Swept by the flood
Whether it bothered the people or not when they saw Noah grind cypress wood and pitch, making a shapeless structure, at least according to the Bible life moved on normally in the community; weddings continued to take place. People savored their barbeques served with chilly and grapes wine. Little did they know about the flood that would sweep them. After 150 days, even though Noah and his family had been saved, life was never the same again. (Genesis 5:32-10:1).
Walls came down tumbling
Similarly, the excitement to reach heaven by the people of Shiner would be cut short sooner than later. All they wanted was to make a name for themselves. God did not sweep them away but you needed to have witnessed the confusion that ensued God’s interruption. How painstakingly long would it have taken for a fundi at the top of the building to ask for one brick (which, abruptly had changed the name in line with new instituted languages) in order to continue with the project! God used the language barrier to interrupt the concerted arrogance of man (Genesis 11:1-9).
Unfortunately, for the fellows in Sodom and Gomorrah, they would never live to see the aftermath of their city, now reduced into a heap of ashes, too consumed by the fire of God’s wrath. They did not know their abominable sodomy had exceeded the elastic limit the night they harassed Lot’s visitors. It must have been a whole new experience for Lot who lost his wife in the process (Genesis 19). (more…)
One day, a teenage girl in a little town of Palestine was visited by a stranger in shining clothes. “Do not be afraid,” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” And that encounter, recorded in Matthew and Luke, is forever memorialized in the Nativity stories we see in Christmas Cantatas. More importantly, God entered human history to bring to the world his long-awaited blessing of salvation. Invariably, this story has inspired many works of literature and songs of celebration, not least the timeless Christmas Carol, “Joy to the World.” Written by pastor and hymn writer Isaac Watts in 1719, this cheerful song is a Christological interpretation of God’s final solution to the curse of the fall (Gen. 3:17-18), echoed in Israel’s messianic hope in Psalms 96:11-12 and 98. Understood in light of what God was accomplishing, indeed, the birth of Christ was “good news of great joy for all the people.”
However “kwa ground,” things were very different.
At this time, the people of Israel are living in anticipation of political emancipation from what Zechariah sees as “the hand of all who hate us” (Luke 1:71). The socio-economic inequalities between the poor and hungry commoners, and the rich and mighty elites needed divine intervention (Luke 1:53). Hearing prophetess Anna’s testimony, one could say that the collective longing for the “redemption of Jerusalem” is personified by this long-suffering widow (Luke 2:38). At the end of Luke, we find two disciples retreating to Emmaus, in a conversation reflecting their disillusionment with Jesus, for “[they] had hoped that he was the one to who was going to redeem Israel” (24:21). But soon, this hope is restored after their eyes are opened: the risen Christ and Lord is right before them (24:31). In an ensuing crash course on Old Testament 101, Jesus helps them understand that his incarnation was not merely to achieve a national aspiration of emancipation, important as that was in a time of Roman oppression. No. Jesus had a much bigger, more inclusive mission: to bring the Abrahamic blessing of salvation to “all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 2:30-31). This was truly a cause for rejoicing!
But–not everyone was rejoicing.
While the choirs of heaven praised God with their glorious melodies, the lowly Shepherds marveled and spread the news everywhere, and the Gentile Magi from the east worshipped and paid homage to the new born king, Herod himself “was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matt. 2:7). But why? What was good news for the oppressed was a dangerous subversion, a “plague” of hope that threatened his illegitimate rule over Israel. Everyone knew he was not a true Davidic king; he was an ambitious puppet of Rome, bent on securing his own dynasty. His murderous campaign sought to stamp out any hope inspired by an alternative, rival king and kingdom. Unknown to him, the new born king was not interested in vying for president or governor in the next General Election; he didn’t need to. The time for the ultimate confrontation was not yet. In the meantime, Jesus had a greater mission of liberating the whole world from the grip of the curse of sin and evil, of which Herod’s regime was only a part. And he has invited us to be part of this great mission.
Or shall we rival him with our quest for personal kingdoms?
So, as animals lose their lives to garnish our festivities, let us not forget: Christ was born so he could lay down his life for us; for all people. Like Mary and Joseph, let us accept with courageous and obedient faith the honour of being channels of his blessing to the world. Like the Magi, let us unreservedly bow in worship and allegiance. Like Anna and Simeon, let us find consolation in him, as a foretaste of the ultimate fulfillment our hearts desire. And like the Shepherds, let us with a generous spirit and creativity spread the good news of God’s love everywhere. This is the real joy of Christmas.
Transiting from campus is not very certain for most people these days. As final year students leave schools, they have a mixture of ambitions and anxieties. Interestingly, every person takes a path so different from their counterparts. Some find their way into jobs and internships that are high profile and pick pace swiftly in life. Others find a strong footing in ministry and missions work and have a tremendous impact on the lives of other people. Others find better to pursue further education immediately after graduating to increase their knowledge and become authorities in different fields of research. Lately, a rising number of graduates employ their skills, talents and their endowment to pursue businesses of various natures.
Several fresh graduates have unfortunately been frustrated by the systems. To their dismay, what looked like promises of hope have become sources of discouragements. The experiences range from retrenchment, broken promises, undermining conditions, overwhelming expectations, or many other things that can warrant frustrations. The result has been depressed fresh graduates who are vulnerable to irrational reactions.
The pressure of ‘making it’ has not been evitable for many. Unspoken expectations of the families and friends especially those who were the first to experience university can push one to think they have disappointed them. Some feel ashamed to go back to their community ’empty-handed’. They end up pushing themselves hard, to do some unlikely things to win the approval of the community.
To those whose faith is in the Lord, the experiences that add and remove money from one’s reach don’t define them. There are many stories of people participating in the greater needs of society, regardless of their positions. There have been personal and group initiatives to enrich the society by many fresh graduates like volunteering to teach, leading youth groups, forming Bible study groups and helping them run, helping to create professional groups or offer pro-bono services, and many other things. There are countless opportunities for fresh graduates to participate in the life enrichment of themselves and others.
We all have different narratives because God works in our lives differently. If you managed to secure a job either immediately or after a few months of search, you have enough you need for life at this time, we thank God for this gift. My appeal to you would be to reach out to one who is still tracing their path. You can pray for your friends, share job opportunities, go out of your way and host another or even send airtime to another. Consider having meetups to just find out how another is doing. Like James would say, when a brother or sister is without clothing or lacks enough food for each day, do what is necessary for them at that time. Don’t just tell them to go in peace and that the Lord would bless them.
Finally, whether you have settled in a well-paying job or are still navigating through the hustles of life, we bless the Lord for you because it is He who sustains us. Whether you are paying rent or still living with your parents, we thank God for putting a roof above you. In any situation you are in, take that leap of faith and praise God in the storm. Move-in with a trustable friend or an aunt, take risks and be open to opportunities. Go out and whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your heart and strength as if unto the Lord.
From the FOCUS Kenya family, we pray that you will fight the good fight of faith and take hold of the eternal life to which you were called to.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The Conviction and Call
I can still recall the voice of the Missions Director brother Calisto Odede, during Commission 88. I was the Kenyatta University Christian Union (KUCU) secretary during that year. I remember listening to him being convicted to avail myself to serve the Lord as He sends me. (more…)
Increased cases of suicide cases
According to the World Health Organization in 2000, throughout the world, approximately 1,000,000 people died of suicide. More than 50% of this constitutes the youth who are in higher levels of education; colleges and universities. This translates to a global mortality rate of 16% or one death every 40 seconds. This makes the number of deaths by suicide worldwide higher than the total number of deaths from war and homicide combined. This only means that preventive measures have to be put in place if we will save the current and even future generations.
the number of deaths by suicide worldwide higher than the total number of deaths from war and homicide combined.
In contemporary African society, suicide was viewed as an offense and a sign of bad omen, a belief that could have been the reason why many people shied away from committing suicide. Those who were caught committing the offense faced dire consequences. This, however, is not the case today. Through civilization, modern education and western influence; the narrative has changed. Such exposure among other factors has contributed to the high number of suicidal cases in society. (more…)
Every time I have studied the book of Nehemiah, I have prayed that God would raise a Nehemiah generation in our time. A generation that has not only the burden to see the transformation in the society, but also one that is ready to transform the concerns into tangible actions. For this to be achieved, one must have counted the cost and committed to doing the right thing even if it means that they will be at it alone.
When Nehemiah received news about the condition of the walls of Jerusalem, he was filled with grief and mourned for many days (Nehemiah 1:4). Even though the book of Nehemiah does not explicitly give information of what other people or leaders back in Jerusalem were doing concerning the ruinous walls, there is an indication that they were not concerned as much (Nehemiah 3: 10-16). For this, they needed a Nehemiah who was both concerned and committed to seeing the restoration of Jerusalem; one who could clearly and convincingly communicate the need and rally people to action. This is what every person need for societal transformation. In addition to this, one ought to pay attention to the following principles:
- Awareness and Salience of the issue – someone needs to be aware of the issue at hand and find out whether it matters to them and why?
- Intrinsic motivation – One needs to find out whether they feel the moral responsibility to address the issue?
- Efficacy – Do you think your action will have an impact on the system?
- Capacity for collective action – Will other citizens/people join me? Is there an organization that has the capacity to launch actions on this issue that you can collaborate?
- Cost of Inaction – What is the cost benefit of my participation? Am I afraid to act? What is the cost of not taking an action?
The problem is inaction
It is Good Friday! Humanly speaking, those are four off-days for a regular employee and if that happens to be a teacher/lecturer it’s time to give the students some space. Here in Kenya, a good number of people take these days to sleep, visit each other, and do charity work, catch-up with rest or entertainment. I have a list on a sticky note of a to-go list for this long weekend. However, together with millions of others, we are either creating Easter memes or viewing them as they land on social media.
Setting out to do reflections on the death of the Lord, two interesting observations struck me:
- An incredibly rich account from scriptures of the death of Christ. The records in the gospels suffice as historical, biological and spiritual go-to books. The details there are indisputable and resonate well with archaeological reports.
- The familiarity with the story of a man who died and rose again for men to be saved. The unfortunate part with this is that the most popular parts of this story are those tailored to sound pleasant and appealing, seeker sensitive versions.
By Jacob Mugendi
At some point in campus/college, especially during your final months or semesters, you will need to start planning for life after school. It is a joy to finish and look forward to graduation, but there are also many moving parts involved that can rob you the joy of completing your studies. As you anticipate a life without assignments, CATs and Exams set by the devil himself, you also realize that it will be a life without HELB and possibly the close social gatherings you have enjoyed. By the way, HELB will still be there, but this time round like Santa Claus turned terrorist, asking you to repay your loan. Blessed is the one without HELB, for they will not be haunted! Sorry, I digressed.
What’s next after campus? I faced this question almost six years ago, and with so many uncertainties, I had to decide what to do next and how to shape my life at least in the short term. What makes this a significant decision in life is that a lot of things change, and your life will be altered significantly from how you have lived in the last 20 years. Some of the major changes to expect include:
- The increased cost of living, in terms of housing, food, travel, etc.
- Decreased support from the people you depended on.
- Increased expectations
- Finding a job in a jobless economy.
- Transition to a different town/location, new community, and friends, or a new Church.
- Another 300 challenges which I have no space to mention
One of these challenges is finding a job, and I would want to talk about it in the hope that I will help someone make the right decision. While in school, we work hard in the hope that we will land on a good job and possibly occupy the corner office. Even those who do not venture into employment hope to be successful as entrepreneurs. How can we make this a reality?
The reality of the job environment today
Once upon a time, there was some
Things have changed
Today, your career is probably going to take a lot of twists and turns. You’ll work, change jobs, tarmac, get a side hustle and a main hustle, become an employer, an employee, consultant… etc. With the exception of a few people whose career path will look like the straight path shown below, most of them will have a twisted, convoluted and mixed up career path as shown
With this in mind, how can one ensure that their career kicks off well? Jobs need experience, and experience needs jobs. This cyclic loop can keep you jobless forever. Some people are also not sure which job they want to do, and others are keen on changing their careers altogether. The other problem comes when you send hundreds of CVs and receive neither response nor regret. Other times you attend so many interviews that you start doubting your purpose in life because some do not even bother to send a regret. With such challenges, here are three considerations that will help you get relevant experience to land on the job of your choice in the long run.
Internships are loved and hated at the same time, majorly because you can easily get yourself one, and also because most of them do not pay. However, internships are one of the best ways to gain some experience in a specific field.
Internships give real time experience and exposure and work best if you are targeting to intern in small organizations as opposed to big corporates. This is because, in small firms, you are likely to be given more duties and responsibilities, as opposed to big corporates. In our start-up, an intern will get more experience and exposure in three months as a system administrator than they can get if they worked in the big Kenyan companies for one year. This is because we give you as much work as we give a senior system administrator, and you will have the guidance of the senior admin seated next to you all the time.
For networks, you are likely to get an internship through referral, because many times these opportunities may not be advertised. If you know someone in an organization or business that is doing what you want to do, that will be an ideal place for you. Consider cold applications to any firm you know, and also look out for advertisements.(more…)
It was a few weeks after my wedding. I looked back at the journey I had walked with my fiance, now my husband and all that went through my mind were mixed feelings. Feelings of triumph and joy that the Lord had walked with us to get us to where we had reached (in marriage) and at the same time the feeling that there were places I would have done better. As we started our journey, we had set our minds, painstakingly, above all else, to honor God. And that was our reason number one to walk the path we walked. And as I reflected on the journey that had been, I asked myself the same question, did we honor God in our walk?
Drawing the line
The question of sexual purity and how realistic we can get realizing we are flesh and blood is probably the biggest problem that many campus and high school students grapple with every day. As the valentine’s day is celebrated, many will be led to make decisions they are not proud of, in the name of celebrating love. Many will make decisions that may change the course of their lives drastically and maybe forever. The decisions will affect not only the social life but also the spiritual and all other aspects of life. Others, still through the ongoing mobilization and the efforts to influence people to pursue purity around this time, will heed the call and choose to be chaste. That will be a good decision, and the Lord is able to sustain his people to live sexually pure lives. What however will be the motivation behind the pursuit of purity?
Truth is, I was happy with many of the choices I made in my dating journey. Some though looked awkward fit for the age of the Ramapithecus and utterly unfit for the 21st century. I made them anyway, and if asked, I would make them once more if I were to. There were others that I was not very proud of and at times I do not understand how foolish I could have been. In the eyes of any man they look like sound decisions that any man would make would they be in my position. In my opinion, though, that is the problem of sin. It is deceptive, and many times we try to rationalize it as the only realistic way. Thinking of it though, who really determines how realistic my actions as a Christian are? Looking at these “realistic” decisions against the standards of God in sexual purity I can only say they are ways apart.
The pursuit of purity equally does not necessarily involve do’s and don’ts and that having followed them we are deemed to have overcome. I agree that there is a part we play in. It is our responsibility to walk in holiness as Paul readily reminds the church to flee from immorality and instead pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Peter also instructs the church to be holy just as the Lord is Holy. There are those practical measures we will take so that we guard our hearts against sin. Some of them may need to be radical decisions, but they are worth it in the long run.
The pursuit of purity is not merely a matter of our own personal victory and pride. I realize the Lord did not see us through the entire journey so that we may boast and show off our prowess and holiness as Christians. It is about God, whose heart is grieved by the sexual immorality. If for us it is about victories then the times we fail, we will have no place in our hearts for repentance. We will beat ourselves so hard, be broken and be disappointed in ourselves since we were unable to defeat a particular sin. We have to understand that as W. S Plumer rightly put it “all sin is against God in this sense that it is his law that is broken, his authority that is despised and his government that is set to naught.”
At times we are obsessed about other people’s opinion of us and about our inability to overcome sin when we sin. We stay caged in addictions and immorality and fail to repent and seek help. This should not be our focus in the circumstance that we already are struggling with sexual immorality. Because for God obedience to the call to repentance and fleeing from sexual immorality is more important than our personal pride.
I know there is the joy that comes as a result of overcoming sin, but that should not preoccupy us. It is and should be secondary. It should be primarily about honoring and obeying God’s word.
It never gets easy but with accountability and God’s Grace it is possible, many, by God’s grace have done it; we remained chaste till marriage, you surely can do it.
By a fresh graduate who participated in the 2016 Chastity Campaign