My Convictions; Idiosyncrasies and Other Things About Me
Introduction to Part 5:
This part is about things that define me as a person and which may not fit in a chronological setting which I adopted for most of the things I have talked about this far. Regardless of time and place, certain things remain typical of one’s life.
This is also the part where I intend to conclude my story for this time. I have left out many things about my life and things that I have experienced but I believe that what I have shared with the world is enough to give a comprehensive picture of who I am and how I have reached where I am today.
In this part the reader will meet some things that may be controversial. I don’t allow things I see differently spoil my fellowship with others. I would only part ways with someone if it is a bout a fundamental doctrine of faith.
I LOVE KIDS AND KIDS LOVE ME
The smile of a baby is a medicine to a man’s spirit. It is pure, total and innocent. If you get a smile from a baby, you don’t have to worry about hidden agendas.
President of USW
If kids were to vote someone into some position of recognition like, say, the president of USW (United States of the World) I would vie for the seat and most likely win. I believe there is a way that people communicate without having been acquaintances. You may meet someone for the first time and feel so comfortable in the presence of that person. Sometimes it can go a notch higher, that is, you develop some kind of fondness even though the person remains a stranger.
On the same note, you may see someone and feel some kind of repulsion even before you interact with the person. In some cases we may get it wrong. We may get attracted to someone because of the first impression when the person is not a good person, or we may get repulsed from a person that is not a bad person. But generally, there can be some remote controlled connections that can give the right profile of a person.
I have experienced many occasions where I meet a kid and we become friends even without having “impressed” one another by the way we relate.
I first detected that God had given me a spirit that connects with toddlers when I was about 10. I had gone to a certain home. A baby who had been sitting on the floor playing saw me and immediately crawled to me. He raised his arms to signal that he wanted me to carry him. I picked him up. The little boy cuddled himself on my lap, feeling safe and loved. When it was time to go, the little boy cried when he saw me go. The fact that the boy loved me and the feeling of him cuddling on my laps touched something deep in me. From this day, I realised that generally, kids, whether strangers or acquaintances, are fond of me and I am fond of them.
One day two little girls, Knight and Achi, about 7 and 5 years olds, came visiting. They knocked at the door and when I opened, they told me that they wanted lemon. There was a lemon tree near the house. I climbed and picked some lemons and gave them. They thanked me and went away. A few minutes later, they came back. They again knocked at the door. When I opened, there they were, giggling, saying: “May God bless you!” They then ran away. After a couple of minutes, they were back: “May God give you a good girl to marry!” They said. That surprised me! I was in my mid teens and in secondary school. I wasn’t in the least thinking about marriage but that wasn’t what amused me most. I thought the girls were too young to talk about marriage in any sense; and how they were convinced that it is God who gives people good girls to marry! But I cherished what these little girls told me and when the time came for me to seek a wife, I remember reminding God that if there was a prayer that I know He would grant, it was that which the kids expressed. Because of this, I had always believed that I would marry a wonderful lady—beauty or heart or both.
I thought the girls were too young to talk about marriage in any sense; and how they were convinced that it is God who gives people good girls to marry!
One day I was travelling from Nairobi to the countryside. I entered a bus and took a seat behind a lady who was having a boy of about four. Immediately I sat myself down, the boy took notice of me. He had been eating biscuits. He looked at me, smiled and reached out to the packed, pulled out a biscuit and offered it to me. I encouraged him to eat. The boy, however, knew what he was doing. He meant to give the biscuit to me. I reluctantly took it. After a moment I tried giving him back the biscuit. The boy was offended he started crying, pushing the biscuit towards my mouth. He stopped crying when I ate the biscuit. I thought that would settle it. What I didn’t know was that for the boy, it was: Let the party begins!
He started offering me one biscuit after another. Any time I declined, he would scream as if he had been pinched. He was making a scene in the bus. But how could I just finish the boy’s biscuits? We had to devise a method with the mother so that when he gave me a biscuit, I would pretend that I was eating but pass it to the mother on the other side of the seat. The mother was amazed at how her son had just become fond of a stranger. We became great friends in that bus. I loved the boy. I felt so bad when we had to part, never to see each other again.
Innocent and Adorable
The innocence of kids must be one of the reasons the Lord warned:
And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
After having been abroad for a while, I travelled back to Kenya to find my friend Dama a big girl. Dama is the daughter of my pastor friend, Amollo. The innocence was gone, not in the sense that she had become a bad girl but that because of her age, she could no longer come and sit on my laps. When she was a toddler we were great friends; there was nothing that could keep Dama away from me. I remember one time I had been out preaching. I had covered a distance of about 60 km on a bicycle. I arrived at their house to have a little rest before I could proceed to my house. Immediately Dama saw me, she ran to me and jumped on my laps. The mother who had rightly perceived that I was tired, tried to restrain her so that I could have a little rest. That was trying to do the impossible. Dama was always welcome to sit on my laps. Now that she is a big girl, in fact a young lady, I fondly miss my little Dama.
Then there was Daisy, my friend Kwenda’s daughter. She was such a sweet little girl who used to keep me company after coming from school. Any time I was home, Daisy would always come to my house. She would tell the mother: “I am going to visit brother Ogweno”.
When I first came to Norway, there was this little girl Marlene. The girl taught me a lot of Norwegian. The little girl would be so patient with me as she tried to help me understand what she was saying. As long as I was in my apartment Marlene would be there. She would carry her toys and come and play at my place. The mother tried to restrain her but she gave up when she realised that our friendship with the little girl was genuine and that she had nothing to worry about when the little girl was with me. We were great friends. A girl of about six years I found her extremely funny and sometimes more mature than her age. One day she surprised me when she told me that if she were a big girl she would have married me. She made my day, I really laughed.
And then there was Joy. One day I came to their apartment to find her really giving the mother difficult time. She had refused to eat, both of them were frustrated and Joy was crying. There is this age where the little ones don’t just want to eat. Very confident that I would make her eat, I asked the mother to let me have the spoon and the food.
First I called Joy’s attention and started reasoning with her like she understood what I was saying. I was very sure she didn’t understand much of the things I was telling her but she liked the way I was saying whatever I was saying. She stopped crying. I explained to her what we were going to do—I wasn’t sure how much of this she understood but when the time came for her to do what I asked her to do, she did it. I told her that I was going to be her supporter and will cheer her as she opens her mouth.
I told her that unlike the mother who wanted her to eat; I will only expect her to open her mouth. I told her that I will put the spoon in the mouth; she would then chew whatever she finds in the mouth and then swallow it. Joy didn’t like to hear the word “eat”, so I avoided it at the beginning.
To get her to open her mouth I asked her to say “Ahh!” She said it and in the process opened her mouth. After putting a spoonful of the food in her mouth, I would jump and shout and dance and throw my arms in the air, cheering like someone commentating on a hotly contested football match. In this way, Joy ate until the mother begged us to stop.
When I beheld him, it was like I was seeing a baby for the first time. It was a miracle.
When I moved from Bergen to Skien and my family was still in Bergen, I wasn’t lonely at all. A four-year-old Håkon, son of my landlord, was always around to tell me stories. Håkon was another kid I enjoyed his company. If you came visiting in my place, you’d think that I had a kid in the house. The place was full of toys—Håkon’s toys.
Those are but few examples of my cordiality with kids.
Fill the Earth with Kids
Most of the good things that have ever happened to me have been through a lot of patience. There is one thing, however, that God didn’t put me on a waiting list for—kids. We got Victor, our first born 39 weeks after we got married. This means that God had already put him in place within three weeks of our marriage.
When I beheld him, it was like I was seeing a baby for the first time. It was a miracle. I would hold his little fingers; check his eyes and legs and everything—he was a perfect human being, only a small one for the time being. That was a miracle—a miracle how God formed him. Fascinating! Watching him grow is one of the most fulfilling things.
Then came Jim-Jif. Another one—a miracle, the one whose conception coincided with the enemy scheming to finish us all. And lastly, Baraka. This one! A miracle taken a level higher. Because of our condition, my wife had those women things meant to keep the population of human beings down. God decided to provide away around those things in order to bless us all the same.
It was on 30th June 2004 when my wife brought home the good news. She had gone to see the gynaecologist for some consultation. As she checked her she discovered that she was expecting. When she came home and told me about it, I thought, “I am a man who dreams a lot, this is another good one. A dream of this nature will spoil my day when I wake up to realise that I had only been dreaming”.
I have dreamt countless times that we have a newborn baby. If all these dreams were to materialise, I would have filled the earth with kids. Any time I dreamt that we have a baby, I would tell my wife.
Dreams are like this: When it is a nightmare, it makes your day upon waking up; when it is good, it messes your day upon waking up. This is because when you wake up from a bad dream, you’d be thankful that it was not real but a dream—this will make you happy. But if it was a good one, you’d feel cheated. You wake up to find that you are not, in reality, what you dreamt you are or don’t have what you dreamt you have.
The interesting thing was that around this time when our daughter was conceived, Victor and Jim-Jif kept on asking us why they were only two of them. They kept on saying that it was boring to be only two kids in the family. Where they got the idea we couldn’t tell. The way they put it sounded like kids were at some place where we would just walk to and pick one. They “accused” us of not doing this.
So when we found out that we would have a baby, we told them that the baby they have been talking about was on the way. They were happy. And my wife! She was extremely happy a result of which she did to me something she had never done before and she has never repeated since. This is why I can’t forget 30th June, 2004.
Like the case of our second born, the gynaecologist had tried to convince my wife to abort. This time she thought we would be more vulnerable but on the contrary, we had been fortified. The idea of anything happening to our baby was not coming up at all.
When my wife refused, the gynaecologist thought that she would talk to me. In a rare confidence my wife told her: “Try your luck; I give you the telephone number you call him!” Kristina knew from my wife’s tantalising tone that it couldn’t work with me either. It was the Lord’s miracle that had given us this baby. He will not run short of more miracles to keep her for us. We had not an ounce of fear or doubt over the fact that the baby would be alright.
Baraka, my miracle daughter, and I. Her name is a Kiswahili word for “Blessing”.
Family Planning and Abortion
This may be controversial. I don’t however make it a big problem to drive a wedge between me and my wife, and anybody else for that matter—but I am not pro-family planning. I have the “problem” of taking the Bible literally most of the times. One of such scriptures is Genesis 1:28: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it….’” (NIV. Italics, my emphasis).
If we were to literally fill the earth, it wouldn’t be our problem; it would instead be God’s concern. I have heard people give reasons for family planning but they are not consistent. If the principle reason for family planning is to have the number of children one is able to care for, both materially and socially, then people who can do this are the most ardent family planners. People who struggle and lack resources to cater for the needs—some of which are very basic—of their children are wont to have more children than those who can comfortable care for many kids.
Have you ever wondered why the process that results into the birth of kids is the best pleasure known to man? Think about how many people have been born not because a couple were looking for a kid but because they were in it for purposes of pleasure.
When a dream is a nightmare, it makes your day upon waking up; when it is good, it messes your day upon waking up.
One day in a Fantoft Christian Fellowship meeting (in Bergen), a Ugandan brother in the Lord, Henry, testified about something that touched me. On this day we had decided not to have the regular sharing of the Word but members testifying of something important that God had done to them.
Most of us gave the predictable testimonies but Henry gave a testimony that was special according to how it registered in my spirit. He told us that in their family, he was the ninth and last born. In our modern society of family planning, he maintained, it was a miracle that he was born. If his parents were like most of the parents, he wasn’t even supposed to have been born. They could have stopped long before he came to the queue.
He therefore thanked God for a life that was way below in the list of those to be born yet he got a chance because his parents decided to go against the grain and the popular practice.
Lydia Kapiriri, another Ugandan sister in the Lord, also told me at one time how they have a cousin who was “accidentally” conceived and born. The girl turned out to be the most darling person in their family—she was respectful; beautiful; skilful and helpful. That she had so many virtuous qualities that no one would want to imagine life without her.
Ask people who are many in their family and find out how they view those who were “late-comers”. In many cases, they are very normal people just like any other person and in others, they are very special people in some ways. We may not know who we are planning not to have. Henry is a doctor and a delightful person. It is painful to think that he couldn’t have been here.
Abortion is murder—the modern way of sacrificing children to the devil. And it is one of the worst sins that anyone can ever commit. I intend to exclusively write about this elsewhere, I will therefore reserve it for another day. Meanwhile, thank God that there is forgiveness if one repents from this sin.
NEITHER A CELEBRITY WORSHIPPER NOR A FOLLOWER OF THE CROWD
When majority of people accept something, it doesn’t mean that what they have accepted is necessarily acceptable. The acceptability of things is determined by their affinity to the doctrines of Christ.
An Active Follower
I am not a celebrity worshipper and I don’t defend sin. We offend God when we defend sin. I believe in personal accountability.
A friend of mine decided to baptise his kids. I asked him why he did that. Instead of taking me into the Bible and justifying this from the Scripture, he listed to me names that sounded like 19th and 20th Centuries who was who in the Christian circles who baptised children. I was impressed first by how he had done his research to find out that these supposedly great men of God baptised babies. I wasn’t in a position to verify his claims but even if it was true that the people he named baptised kids, it was a non-starter for me. My basis of believing or doing something doesn’t take bearing from the fact that a celebrity believes or does it.
What I know is that there are many non-starting front-runners out there. The bitter truth is that there are many celebrities—even in the Christian circles—who are not making it anywhere. The apostle Paul himself says that there are possibilities of running and failing to get the crown.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
—1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (NIV).
If Paul, of all the people, was concerned about the fact that he could be in the limelight doing wonderful things and even preach to people who would get their prizes yet he himself be a castaway, it is a dire warning. If I notice conceit, or any manner of malevolence in the life of a servant of God, I don’t have to follow him along that path.
The apostle Paul also says something that is very important: “Follow me as I follow Christ” (See 1 Cor. 11:1). My activity as I follow the leaders is to be sure that they are following Christ. How do I know this? I will not rely solely on them to tell me who Jesus is but I will strive to know Christ myself.
God is the inspector of people’s hearts and not a respecter of their acts. If our motives are not clean from the heart, it doesn’t matter the limelight in which we operate. We have to be extremely keen to discern things that have become popular but which God’s Word doesn’t endorse.
Popularity Is Not Synonymous to Acceptability
Many people allow themselves to be taken off-course because they join in the crowd and surrender their watchfulness to the crowd’s collective psyche. If we are spiritually vigilant, we would always know that popularity of something doesn’t necessarily validate it. That everybody is doing it, should not make us feel safe that it is alright.
God is the inspector of people’s hearts, not a respecter of their acts.
This is the stand that I have adopted: I will only follow a crowd if I have myself checked and realised that whatever the crowd is endorsing or participating in is not contravening God’s Word.
Most people think that the trickiest danger lurks behind the ways, attitudes and counsels of the unbelievers. The truth of the matter is that we are wont to be misled by the religious crowd than by the non-believing crowd. When we are in the religious crowd, we relax our vigilance because we know that we are surrounded by the like-minded. Yet we have to remember that the individuals comprising the crowd have different levels of commitment. The basic interests also vary: some are there for what they will get while others are there for what they can give. If you happen to be the giver, be aware that getters are usually more in any setting. If you follow the crowd in this context, you will be led along the wrong direction.
I have to emphasise: There are things that are popular but they are not acceptable to the Lord.
I always seek God’s face to help me recognise His voice so clear that I may not follow a popular counsel even if it is delivered by a true servant of God. Whenever God places something in my heart and my spirit concurs due to its compatibility with His Spirit and His Word, even an angel cannot talk me from it. This is why even though some of my friends, including my mentors, have taken, for example, the title of “Reverend”, I maintain that reverence belongs to God. There is no office or ministry that Christ left called the office or ministry of Reverence. Some of these titles are signs that the spirit of religion is catching up with us (I spare this for another day).
I am always fascinated by the story of what the Bible calls “the man of God from Judah” in 1 Kings 13. I always stop and ponder about what was happening. In this story, God had sent a man from Judah to Bethel to deliver a message. He had been given specific instructions. King Jeroboam’s attempt to lure him didn’t succeed.
And the king said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward. And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place: For so was it charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest. So he went another way, and returned not by the way that he came to Bethel.
—1 Kings 13:7-10.
No problem! Standing against Jeroboam’s attempt to have him compromised was not where he needed to be extra vigilant. The reason is that we are not as vulnerable to a non-believer, his position notwithstanding, as we are to a believer. The “danger” is formidable when it is someone who subscribes to what we believe. Consider the turn of events as below:
Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father. And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah. And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon,
And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said, I am. Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread. And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place: For it was said to me by the word of the LORD, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.
He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him. So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water. And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came unto the prophet that brought him back:
And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee.
—verses 11-21 (italics, my emphasis).
Wow! Look at that! Look at it again! The story ends that the man of God was devoured by a lion on his way back to Judah. He died because he disobeyed a very clear message. The irony is, the old prophet who deceived him didn’t die.
Most Christians think that the trickiest danger lurks behind the ways, attitudes and counsels of the unbelievers; depending on the environment, the contrary may be the case.
There is so much to learn from this story but for now and for my case, I have leant that I have to remain true to what the Lord has spoken to me and not allow any “old prophet” to talk me away from it even if he claims to have had an angelic visitation. Old prophet here may signify a seasoned and experienced servant of God. I don’t mean to imply the people should rebel against “old prophets” of God, what I am saying is that we need to know the voice of God to the extent that we don’t waver regardless of who tries to deceive us for whatever reason.
I also learnt from this story that even when I am sitting at the foot of someone who identifies with Christ as much as I do, I will not fold my spiritual antenna—I will still need to be connected with heaven, receiving signals and transmitting my responses.
If You Are Materially Challenged, Sit Down and Listen!
Much as we may get carried away by those serving in the limelight, true celebrities with divine blessings may be hidden from the eyes of men. Their books may not appear as best selling; their stories may not even make it to the media; their congregations may not attract any attention; their ministries may not even be known. Sometimes people who ought to listen to them are sitting them down to “teach” them. Some of them are disregarded because they are poor materially. But this is in disregard to the fact that God’s grace is wont to be received and rightly utilised by the poor. Rightful reception and use of God’s grace releases special anointing. The poor materially are rich spiritually. The fact that one is materially challenged doesn’t mean he is equally mentally challenged; neither is he a perpetual spiritual novice.
One mistake that many people make is that they think that God only speaks through Christians with money. Because it has the money, the Western Christianity, for example, believes that they also have the wealth of anointing to teach and train people who are not doing well materially. Anointing doesn’t necessarily follow money. Forget about the sweet-sounding messages, without the anointing by the Holy Spirit, no word can reach the desperately wicked heart of man. Without the anointing the best we can achieve is to inform the head instead of transform the heart.
I heard a man tell how they went to Africa and trained pastors, equipping them to work. The fact of the matter is that some of those people have been trained by the Holy Spirit and are doing wonderful jobs. What they lack is the material muscle. But the Western Church would only provide the material resources if they also assume the spiritual advantage. This spiritual arrogance is blocking many well-meaning servants of God from “learning” from the lowly.
Without the anointing the best we can achieve is inform the head instead of transform the heart.
However much I feel that I am advantaged spiritually, I would always go out to “share”. In this sense, I’d not just go out to give but also to receive; not just to teach but to be taught as well. This is where the materially advantaged lose out. Their attitude is that they can only give (both spiritually and materially) and not being open that they may also need to receive just as they give.
Proceed to Chapters 25-27 (Including Epilogue)