Drawing Near to God
A True Story
on Dec 13, 2022
About two months ago, I read the evergreen diary of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who died at the age of sixteen in 1945 at the height of World War 2. Anne Frank touched on the issue of God and religion in her diary. She wrote that people who have a religion should be glad, for not everyone has the gift of believing in heavenly things.
I couldn't agree with Anne Frank more that not everyone has the gift of believing in God. There are some people who, no matter how hard you reason with them, just don't see the sense of believing in a God they can't see, hear or touch. And some of those unbelievers are good people in that they don't steal, tell lies or kill innocent humans.
Others are so convinced of God's existence that they spend their days telling others about Him. They can often be spotted on the streets and in buses spreading the gospel of Christ with evangelical zeal. And some of them believe in Christ as the Son of God to the extent that when they meet strangers, they first ask them, "Are you saved?"
As for me, I believe in God and in the Bible as His inerrant Word. But I have not always been this way. In 2006 when I was a computer student at Starehe Institute, I began doubting the literary accuracy of the Bible - something I never hid from the church-mates with whom I attended Catholic masses on Sundays. I even suggested to them that Jesus could have been a fictional legend.
It's not until April 2007 after I joined a choir at All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi that I was converted into a believer by choristers who were passionate about the gospel of Christ. They sang spiritually-enriching hymns and gathered for fellowships during which I would be ministered to. One of them had me attend an evangelism course held at the cathedral in 2008.
The teachers and students in the evangelism course welcomed me warmly and treated me with enormous kindness. I enjoyed their company, the Biblical teachings we learnt in the course as well as the tea and buns we partook during the classes. And after about six months of training, I was issued with an evangelism certificate in a graduation ceremony that my father attended.
After I was certified as an evangelist in August 2008, I never bothered to preach to others about what I had learnt in the evangelism course. The closest I came to spreading the Gospel to strangers was in May or June 2011. During that month after I was informed that the evangelism team at All Saints' Cathedral would be travelling to Western Kenya to win souls for Christ, I quickly signed up to be part of the travelling team.
On the days before the evangelism mission to Western Kenya, I was looking forward to the trip, not so much that I could preach the Gospel as to boast to my family that I had travelled. But guess what! When the day of departure reached, a lady in the evangelism team refused to have me travel after I turned up without carrying extra clothes for changing.
Looking back, I am glad that I wasn't permitted to travel to Western Kenya because I don't think I was qualified to preach the Gospel given all the sins I went on to make. Sins such as telling lies, erupting in anger, oversleeping in the morning, running away from home, cracking off-color jokes, plagiarizing other people's stories and putting some of my friends down.
With time, I have come to see more sense in the Bible. It covers all the issues we deal with in life: sex, fear, work, guilt, money, worry, marriage, conflicts, alcohol, bitterness, diseases, corruption, knowledge and friendship. And it also explains the origin of sin and what happens after death - mysteries that Science hasn't unravelled so far.
Because I have come to see more sense in the Bible these days than I did in 2008, I now strive to live by what it says. I strive to love people, to work hard, to be kind, to tell the truth, to say 'no' if need be, to express gratitude, to grow in knowledge, to repent my sins, to think noble thoughts and to forgive those who have wronged me.
Above all, I strive to draw near to God each passing day. I pray a lot, marvel at the creation of His hand and seek His blessing in everything I do. I also sing to Him hymns of praise and thanksgiving. Perhaps most important, I read His Word daily and meditate on what it says. Not an unwise thing for you to do as well, my beloved reader!
RECOMMENDATION If you've enjoyed this story on drawing near to God, you might also enjoy another one on "Lessons From the Bible" that I wrote more than four years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Learning a Foreign Language
A True Story
on Dec 8, 2022
Some years back, I came across an advice given to high school students that they should learn at least one foreign language, at least one musical instrument and at least one ball game. Later on when I mulled over that piece of advice, I felt glad that I knew how to play the piano and volleyball.
Going by that advice, I thought perhaps the only important thing I missed learning during my high school years at Starehe Boys' Centre was how to read, write and speak a foreign language. And Starehe did offer classes in French and German.
I schooled alongside high school classmates who studied German during the lessons I learnt Music. My deskmate Martin Wamoni was one of those German students. But imagine in all my four years with the classmates studying German, the only German words I learnt from them are the greetings "guten morgen" and "guten tag".
Not until 2006 when I was pursuing a diploma in Information Technology in the institute division of Starehe did I make an effort to learn a foreign language. One afternoon that year, I approached an institute classmate who had studied French in high school and requested him to teach me some French. The classmate acceded to my request and sat me down to tutor me but after just one lesson, I gave up learning French.
In 2010 when I was teaching piano at a small music school in downtown Nairobi, there came to the school a young man I remember as Julius who befriended me and enthusiastically narrated to me the benefits of mastering a foreign language. Julius claimed to know Spanish, a language I heard him speak with admirable fluency.
After we became friends, Julius offered to teach me Spanish. He taught me the language on several afternoons for free using a colorful textbook. But after a few lessons, his enthusiasm waned and he eventually ceased coming to the music school. Since then, I have never heard from him.
It seems I am not the only one in my family who has had a burning desire to learn a foreign language. My immediate elder brother Paddy enrolled for a course in French when he was pursuing an undergraduate degree in Medicine & Surgery at the University of Nairobi. A few years later after I asked him whether he had mastered French, he replied that he wasn't that fluent in the language but he was quick to add that you couldn't cheat him in French.
Recently when my eldest brother Joe Kagigite visited us with his family, I was surprised to note that his daughter, a bubbly eleven-year-old girl named Kayla Wanjeri, knows more French than she does Kikuyu, the native language of our ancestors. Kayla could spout off some French words but she had no clue what a trouser is called in Kikuyu.
Come to think of it, maybe the advice I came across some years back - that high school students should learn at least one foreign language - was meant for those British and American students whose native language is English. And because my native language is Kikuyu, I know one foreign language: English! In fact, I speak, write and read English better than I do Kikuyu.
Although I have been fluent in English since my primary school years, I have to admit that I found it difficult to understand the engineering course I pursued at the university for two years. Given how hard I found the course to be when taught in English, I used to wonder how those Kenyans who won scholarships to study in China, Russia and Japan managed to grasp engineering concepts when taught in Chinese, Russian or Japanese - languages they didn't grow up speaking.
My curiosity led me to question a high school housemate of mine called Emmanuel Karanja if he had trouble understanding scientific concepts in Japanese when he was offered a scholarship to study in Japan. Unhappily, I can't remember Karanja's response to my question. The little I recall from my conversation with him was his assertion that the Japanese people are very hard-working.
Having realized that I know one foreign language (English), I will continue honing my mastery of the English language. I will work on building my vocabulary in the language and on pronouncing its words well so that I can write and speak English with accuracy and elegance. And hopefully, I will become an internationally acclaimed writer and speaker. So help me God.
NEW! NEW! NEW! If you missed my social media update two days ago, let me take this opportunity to inform you that I have produced a new hymn which is available in the videos' section of this blog. Just click on the "videos" link on the menu at the top of this blog to access the hymn.