My name is Joshua Maina, a born-again Christian and the STEM staff of Garissa Christian Unions. I am a bachelor’s graduate in Communications and Public relations from Karatina University. My first tenure as a STEM was at Daystar and Machakos University. I then went on to pioneer the STEM staff residential ministry at Garissa.
Despite the uncertainty and the challenging environment in Garissa, especially relating to the security of believers, I embraced the unexpected call to join the ministry with the support of my mentors, friends, and family. This journey has transformed me into a radical disciple, shaping my character and faithfulness.
Throughout my STEM year, I have found solace in the Lord through daily scripture reading, gradually developing a deep hunger for God. I have realized how helpless I am without Him and learned contentment through unwavering hope and trust in God. I have had the greatest commitment to reading the Bible this year. Reading Christian literature has further shaped my spiritual life. As I continue to know God more, my desire to know Him intensifies.
Through my apprenticeship, I have gained invaluable skills, enhanced my critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. I’m delighted that I helped establish a working constitution for Garissa University. One-on-one Bible study sessions with Garissa’s students were incredibly motivating, as their desire to know the scriptures was evident. Mentoring students, especially those in relationships, in the STEM house was a rewarding experience.
STEM has provided me with a holistic learning experience and developed my leadership and organizational skills. I have also grown my graphic design and content development skills while creating prayer letters, postcards, and speaking engagements content. Furthermore, I have gotten much better at public speaking through preaching and training.
As a pioneer resident staff in Garissa, I faced numerous challenges and moments of loneliness. Initially, settling in and building relationships proved difficult. The unfamiliarity with my role in the CUs added to my struggles. Additionally, the hot environment and persistent mosquitoes made my experience even more challenging. However, God enabled me to gradually learn and adapt to my surroundings, ultimately finding my place in Garissa.
It’s clear to me that joining this program was not a coincidence; it was part of God’s plan to prepare me for greater responsibilities. I’ve been convinced of my calling to disciple and develop leaders through servant mentorship based on biblical principles. I want to use my knowledge and skills to impact both young and old, pouring out my knowledge and skills to empower others.
I am incredibly grateful for the transformative experience of serving God and the valuable lessons I have learned about Godliness and contentment. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to my dedicated partners, supporters, beloved mum, and team leaders for their unwavering support. Special acknowledgment goes to Dr. Nelly Gitonga and Mr. Aaron Mukiiri, the Garissa University Patrons, whose guidance and encouragement have been invaluable. Their emphasis on prayer as the key to sustaining ministry in Garissa remains etched in my memory.
Ultimately, I have discovered that true ministry impact is not confined to the pulpit. Instead, it t is rooted in the ability to embody Christ’s love and become a friend to those we serve. God’s rewards are not based on success but on faithfulness. Blessings!
My name is Michael Ogutu, a graduate of South Eastern Kenya University with a degree in Geology. I am the outgoing STEM staff in Nyeri CUs.
While interacting with the STEM Staff before me, I admired the remarkable quality of life they had cultivated. Their wisdom and ability to relate Scripture to everyday experiences fascinated me. I admired their consistent practice of Bible study and journaling and desired to join STEM for personal growth and societal impact. When the call to join STEM came through our CMF, I wholeheartedly accepted.
Serving with Nyeri-CUs and in the Mt. Kenya Region has been a transformative experience. I realized the importance of being grounded in the Lord as a ministry worker. Reading the Bible and developing Christian convictions have been crucial for providing sound guidance. STEM provided me with an opportunity to build my own library, read influential books, and develop spiritual disciplines. Through daily devotion, prayer, and studying my spiritual growth has been significant. Facilitating BEST-P sessions has enhanced my public speaking skills and deepened my exploration of the Scriptures.
STEM has fostered an appreciation for family in me, as I had the chance to connect with associates, share meals, and share experiences. I saw the friendship of the spouses, the intentionality of the parents, and their devotion to God. This left a lasting impression and memories that will stay with me.
Working with multiple Christian Unions posed challenges of availability and balancing involvement without leaving any of them feeling neglected. I was constantly aware of the needs of the CU members to interact more with me. To address this, I made sacrifices and prioritized one-on-one interactions with students, realizing that fellowship alone couldn’t provide the same quality time. Additionally, I experienced opposition and rejection from some institutions. Nevertheless, I persevered through consistency, continual lobbying, and being present for meetings and fellowships, as I trusted the Lord to intervene in His perfect timing.
I have developed resilience and the ability to overcome challenges. Through facilitating interactions with students, I have nurtured my public engagement skills. Working with a planner and practicing diligence has improved my decision-making and time-management abilities. Better communication skills and the acquisition of integrity have enabled me to address issues with gentleness and love, without fear. These valuable qualities and experiences will continue to shape my journey beyond STEM.
I am excited about applying the skills I have gained from STEM in the corporate world, particularly in data-driven decision-making, conflict management, and teamwork. I aim to excel in planning and time management, ensuring quality time for both friends and family. STEM has instilled in me a deep love and care for my current and future family and home.
The Lord has been gracious to me. I appreciate my teammates and team leaders at FOCUS for giving me an opportunity to be a student to learn and a leader to lead others. I am thankful for supportive partners has continually prayed for me and supported me financially. Thank you. Always replying to my prayer letter and requests. It’s always encouraging to hear, “I’m praying with you.” Baraka!
In comparison to other world days such as Mother’s Day, World Environment Day 2023 was low-key. It is not a surprise that the biggest international day for the environment led by the United Nations since 1973 went unnoticed, at least in Kenya. It points to the possibility that environmental concerns are yet to capture the mind and hearts of most of the world’s population.
You are Responsible!
This year’s focus by United Nations is plastic pollution under the campaign #BeatPlasticPollution. The goal is to achieve Ecosystem Restoration. That one plastic bottle thrown from a moving car may cause the momentary relief of not carrying it to a dustbin, but it contributes to irreparable damage as the material slowly seeps into our oceans, soil, and forests. It is for this reason that every individual needs to understand the gravity of their actions toward the environment.
Environmental Pollution Kills
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, 2023), only 10% of the 7 billion tonnes of plastic generated globally is recycled. The rest of the plastic is lost to the environment. Besides the estimated annual loss of US$ 80- 120 in the value of plastic packaging waste during sorting and processing, environmental pollution is a major cause of many human health challenges and deaths. Kenya’s environmental analysis report released by the World Bank Group in 2019 shows environmental pollution causes around 60,000 deaths annually and costs Kenya 4.4% of its GDP. 60% of these deaths are linked to unsafe water and sanitation health.
Is it a Christian Concern?
From a Christian perspective, should it bother a believer how humanity treats the environment? Should Christian students and graduates who are aware of the impact of environmental pollution be comfortable with the continued assault on the environment? How should a Christian view creation considering God’s charge to care for the environment? These are questions that need an urgent consideration.
Caring for God’s creation is part of Christian service to Him and an integral role of servant leadership. The discourse about Environmental stewardship is so important to be ignored by Christians. Every serious believer should be concerned in speech and action on how to take care of the environment in a way that protects, sustains, and enhances it to fulfil the purpose God intended for it.
The Stewarding of the environment for Christians provides direct witness opportunities to unbelievers. The unbeliever is able to see the believers put their faith into action and witness the good works of creation that overflow from Christian’s love for God, the creator, and their neighbour .
FOCUS Kenya will be zooming in to Environmental stewardship through an Environmental Stewardship Initiative dubbed ‘mazingira poa, wajibu wangu’ in the next three years starting in 2023. The initiave will involve the mobilization of FOCUS Stakeholders for environmental stewardship as Christians and citizens’ responsibility.
The campaign seeks to:
- Build capacity for stakeholders on identification and response to Environmental stewardship needs
- Influence policy formation and implementation on Environmental stewardship.
- Inspire action on Environmental stewardship
- Increase awareness of the roles of stakeholders in Environmental stewardship
- Build partnerships in support of FOCUS Kenya’s Environmental stewardship initiatives
We are calling on all FOCUS Stakeholders and the public to plug in through the CU, the Associate branches and all FOCUS-organized forums and social media as we secure our mother nature.
Joining the STEM Programme has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Most of my expectations were met throughout the period. Working in FOCUS among students who have committed their lives to Christ and the Staff team has had a dual impact. First, my life has been tested on many Christian values, and secondly, my character and convictions have been sharpened, making me more Christ-like.
I have gained financial management, counseling, concept writing, research, and Graphic design skills. My short-term experience in ministry has had a long-term impact on me. Student ministry has been a call to utter discipline, excellence, and integrity.
I am grateful to God for this opportunity and the Staff team that continues to drive God’s vision and mission for this ministry.As I transit, the immediate future is quite uncertain, but I am certainly walking in a daily commitment to transforming lives and changing nations through the doors God will open.