Daniel Mbugua

How do you write about a tall skinny boy who touched your heart and ensured you’d be friends for all of time?

You sit on your desk and fire up your laptop. You think about how you met him. On a normal day when you had decided to take some time off your regular job to go and see how the other side rolls – pupillage!

The first time you meet him, you seat about 2 desks away from him. You say hello. He looks up and distractedly says hello back. Then he looks up again, a wide grin on his face and says “Muchoki, hi.” You wonder how he knows your name. Then you remember you called him by name too. When you go to work for a firm in which two of your close friends already work, you and people you have never met are already on a first name basis. Good times.

From that day, you get to know him. Daniel. He’s funny…no, hilarious. He’s naughty. When the Partners form a committee to assist with the office-move, he forms a shadow committee. Complete with meetings and minutes. After the move, you spend a lot of time in his office. He demands that everyone makes an appointment before coming to his office. As if. You and all the others flock to his office anyway. We all hold ‘meetings’ there so frequently he has to get additional seats. We laugh. We joke. We whine. We work. We pray. We hate. We draft resignation letters. We analyse hugs 🙂 (in Tabby’s immortal words “the hug that earned us a year”). We scheme on how to get Lizzy to like us. We complain. We live.

Six months later, it’s time for you to move on from the firm. As you say goodbye, you look around and realise you have made friends for life. Daniel is one such friend.

That was four years ago.

I have spent the last four years marvelling at the enigma that is Daniel.

The one thing that anyone who has met Daniel will tell you is that he was hilarious! And he was. Read his blog and see for yourself. His perspective on everyday things in life was something to behold. From randomly reading through the KIPI journal and hilariously analysing the trade mark names registered, to always saying he’ll come up with a win-win situation which he can go as far as to say that other win-win situations will be envious of. He had our funny bone.

But beyond all that, Daniel was completely and irrevocably sold out to Jesus. Daniel knew his God.

This last two years were hard. Daniel got leukaemia. He went to India for treatment. After some time he was healed. But the doctor’s didn’t think so. They wanted him to stay. But he had heard the voice of the one who holds reality in His hands. Daniel chose to listen to Him and claimed his healing. He came home. He said that sometimes facts take a bit longer to align themselves with reality. See, Daniel’s reality was based on God’s reality, not the world’s.

I had a crisis of belief. I wanted him to stay in India until the doctors gave the all-clear. My faith was weak. Not Daniel’s. He came home and shouted it from the mountain-tops! He lived life. He praised his God for the healing. He went back to work. He got engaged. He went back to pre-leukaemia Daniel.

Months later, the cancer was back. Relapse. The questions were many and varied. Top on the list being – Why Lord? Didn’t you heal him? What is this about? Won’t people think that he hadn’t heard from you? But Daniel, he asked his questions to the right person. God. He explains it here. God spoke to Daniel. He reminded him that he was in control. That He was able to defend His own glory. He talks of God as the Grand Weaver – only He has the final design.

Even though all his questions were not answered, he said he had peace. That which surpasses all human understanding.

Peace.

In a time when all you feel is pain. When your body just won’t work with you. When even after a transplant has been successful, it still won’t co-operate with you. Peace. Because you realise that this body is a tent. A temporary dwelling place. A means to an end. Something to help you work your way to the other side, where you won’t need it.

Today, we put that body back to the ground.

It wasn’t Daniel. Just his body. Daniel was long gone. Gone to be with the Lord he had served faithfully and through pain.

In the year and a half that Daniel was sick, he represented his Lord like never before. He used his pain, his cancer to give glory to God. To focus everything about him on God. He chose to be a vessel through which we could hear and see Jesus.

Daniel encouraged me so much both before and during the cancer period. He was a rock. I didn’t think it was possible to be that strong, in the midst of such troubles. And it wasn’t, at least not on his own. He had help. Jesus. See, with Jesus on your side so many things lose significance. Like pain. Or suffering. They don’t go away. No. You still suffer. But this time you do it with Him. It begins to transform to something else. A testimony. A victory.

And that is Daniel’s testimony. That in the end, he won over cancer. And over death. Cancer cannot touch him now, and neither can death. Death has no victory or sting over Daniel. Death was just a door. A pass-way to the other side. He won. He stands today in victory. Daniel lives.

I’m not sure I can say rest in peace Daniel, because knowing Daniel, resting is the last thing he’s doing. He’s probably hanging out somewhere with St. Peter raising a storm and entertaining heaven. Probably.

But one thing I’m sure, Daniel is now bowing down to the king of kings. He is now seeing that which the rest of us cannot fathom or imagine. That which no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no human mind has conceived. He is seeing the Lord in all His glory.

Enjoy eternity Daniel, until we meet again.

daniel

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Looking back; About the Future

Written by a young brilliant man – Vic Munala – who is out serving the Lord as a missionary.

Have you lost your hearing?

(From the book, A gentle thunder by Max Lucado.)

 Hearing“Once there was a man who dared God to speak

Burn the bush like you did for Moses, God.

      And I will follow.

Collapse the walls like you did for Joshua, God.

     And I will fight.

                                     Still the waves like you did on Galilee, God.

                                          And I will listen.

And so the man sat by a bush, near a wall, close to the sea and waited for God to speak.

And God heard the man, so God answered.

He sent fire, not to a bush, but for a church.

He brought down a wall, not of brick but of sin.

He stilled a storm, not of the sea but of a soul.

And God waited for the man to respond.

And he waited…

And he waited…

And he waited.

But because the man was looking at bushes, not hearts;

Bricks not lives, seas and not souls,

He decided that God had done nothing.

Finally, he looked to God and asked, Have you lost your power?

And God looked at him and said, Have you lost your hearing?”

 Have YOU lost your hearing?

O Captain, My Captain!

AjeviDeath.

Final. Unforgiving. Uncaring.

Makes you see the sense in what Solomon says – Vanity, it’s all vanity. Like a chasing after the wind.

This past week, my friend Ajevi died. He is no more. One day he was here and the next he wasn’t. No frills, no party. Just like that. Dead.

If you knew Ajevi, you know what sort of person he was. You can’t help but remember him with a smile on your face. He was a bundle of joy… a slow talking bundle of joy :). We always made fun of him and how slowly he spoke on phone. He had a heart of gold though. He loved sincerely. He told us stories… his life was full of stories you want to hear. He had a goofy smile too.

In campus, he made us fried eggs and then used the same sufuria without so much as rinsing it out, to make us ugali… and then boil eggs in it. I will never get over that! When we had exams, he’d lose so much weight and look like the world was perched squarely on his shoulders. He was a sight. He hated exams period. He once refused to tell us his middle name, however much we begged. Then one day, Lenah and I found out what it was… and he spent about a week begging us not to call him that in public. Muyembe. A sturdy manly Luhya name.

Ajevi loved to dance. Boy, could that kid move! In fact, Ajevi was pretty much synonymous with dancing to us. When that boy got on stage, he left his bones off-stage and did things with his body that you didn’t know a body could do. He brought the house down and our spirits up.

And then one day, Ajevi met Jesus! You could have heard the angels sing. Oh glory! It was like flipping a switch. Ajevi’s life changed… remarkably! He was suddenly so full of life. He was now dancing for the Lord. It was even more spectacular. He and Kuyo woke up at the crack of dawn to pray, they danced along the corridors, they were on fire for the Lord. I watched them and thought… now, that’s the kind of born again I want to be.

Years later after university was behind us, Ajevi was still on fire for the Lord. He was still dancing and singing and praising the Lord… day in, day out. He was making music for the Lord. His relationship with Jesus grew in leaps and bounds. He got to that place where he knew Jesus had him. The last couple of years were not too kind to Ajevi, job-wise. He was struggling to situate himself. He had a few ups and downs. A few false starts. The one constant thread through it all… his unwavering faith. He believed that God was in control and that everything would be okay. And it was. Recently, his cards were falling into place. His career was taking off in the direction he wanted.

And even before he could really enjoy it, he’s gone! Why? Why Lord? Why Ajevi? I have struggled with this question. I have given myself the talk. I have tried to be okay with the fact that he’s gone. I didn’t think I would. It’s hard. It’s heart breaking and soul crushing!

On Sunday, I stood in church singing the song “Jesus at the centre” and when I got to the part in the song that says “… it’s all about you, Jesus…” it all came pouring out. Like a switch. The floodgates opened. The waterworks started. And my eyes were opened. I cried because Ajevi was temporarily lost to us. I cried because the good Lord had been kind and opened my eyes and my heart.

He reiterated that the question is not why he took Ajevi, but why he lets any of us live. Because it really is all about Him. Not me, not you and not even Ajevi. Him. Jesus. It’s all about Him. Forget the whys and the why-nots and focus on Him. It is about Him. Ajevi knew this and he was ready. He knew. I like what he posted on his face-book wall one day:

The believer….knows of a place…a beautiful place….with a beautiful King…a place…. where all they do…is *dance*…..with joy in their hearts n a smile on the face….{sigh!!}…when the roll is called up yonder…don look for me…i’ll be sooo there!!…………Jesus is coming

Ajevi knew. He knew that one day, Jesus would come. And He did.

You see friend, between Ajevi and us – Ajevi is the lucky one. He is the one in a good place. He is the one smiling and wondering why God took so long to take him home. He is the one partying with the angels and dancing to no end for his Lord.

See, God is not a malicious God. He did not cut short Ajevi’s life because God is not confined by time as we mere mortals understand it. His books, as one gentleman once said, are still balanced! To him, Ajevi is not dead. He has just walked through a door… a different door than the ones we see. To him, Ajevi already made the decision which ensured that death was not his portion anymore. He chose Christ.

The death of a loved one feels like an amputation done with no anesthesia. It hurts. A lot. Even knowing that it’s about Jesus, it still hurts. But that’s okay, it’s just the flesh hurting. And because we are human, we will cry. It’s how we know to express ourselves. But the spirit within me knows to do a dance because the author of Ajevi’s life has finished the good work He began in him.

I take comfort in that we are only temporarily separated from him. That Ajevi is with Jesus and that is enough.

Ajevi,

O Captain! My Captain!

Your trip is done; your ship has weathered every rack.

The prize you sought is won.

Fare thee well, dear friend until we meet again on the other side of eternity.

Welcome Home Muthoni Kanga

Muthoni, Abdinoor and Martin in Nairobi. Pic courtesy of International Aid Services

On Thursday, 5th June 2014, we got the news that our friend Muthoni Kanga (and her colleagues Martin and Abdinoor) was free!!  After almost 2 years in captivity in Puntland, Somalia, she was free and coming back home!

Muthoni is free! Muthoni is free! Muthoni is coming home! I kept saying this over and over as my Bible Study group talked and chatted and cried on phone to each other. Muthoni is free! She is free!

Today, I spoke to her.

Nothing I say on this page can even come close to expressing the joy that filled my heart at hearing her voice. Joy and happiness in proportions and magnitude before unknown to me. A moment of moments. I wanted to get up and do a dance right there on my desk. Scream and shout with joy. I wanted to stop everyone in the office and tell them I was speaking to Muthoni. But all I did, all I could do, was sit there and bawl my eyes out. I told her how much I missed her and how much I loved her. And I thanked Jesus for bringing her back. For loving her and taking care of her and bringing her back home.

She called me Kate-doll… just like she used to. She sounded the same… like she never left. I know she’s not really the same. There are scars that we will never see or know about. There are things she went through that we will never understand. But she is back. She is still her. Muthoni. In every way that counts. She said how much Jesus had taken care of her and how her relationship with him was sweeter and more amazing than ever. She said “It’s Jesus.”

And indeed it is Jesus.

This amazing God who we serve. He loved Muthoni everyday she was away and loved her back to us. And what can we say or do but fall prostrate before Him and say that His name is to be praised. It’s to be exalted above all others because He has performed miracles in our time. He has restored our fortunes. Our mouths are filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Let it be said among the nations that He has done great things for us, for He has done great things for us. (Ps. 126: 1-3).

Jesus, we say thank you. Thank you. Words seem so inadequate, but they’re all we have. So we use them to ask that you listen to our thanksgiving… from deep down in our hearts.

So listen to our hearts

Hear our spirits sing

A song of praise that flows

For those you have redeemed

And we use the words we know

To tell you what an awesome God you are

But when words are not enough

To tell you of our love

Just listen to our hearts

 

If words could fall like rain

From these lips of mine

And if I had a thousand years

I would still run out of time

So if you listen to my heart

Every beat will say

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

(~Casting Crowns)

Thank you for bringing Muthoni back to us.

Muthoni, I’m so happy that you’re back. I missed you so much and I love you so much my dear.

I am overjoyed that Jesus has brought you back to us in His perfect timing. I look forward to being in your life as the good Lord uses what He took you through for His glory. As he puts back the broken pieces together, with His love. As He eases you back into life… only a richer life than you ever thought possible.

I’m proud of you for holding on. For letting Him hold you. For knowing that the awesome author and finisher of your faith was there with you, every day. I look forward to that front row seat as He restores everything the locusts have devoured. As He takes you from glory to glory.

Know that one day, your eyes will be opened, and you will see this chaos for the masterpiece that it is.

And to each one of you out there who took time to whisper a prayer for Muthoni even just once, thank you from the very bottom of this imperfect human heart of mine. I cannot thank you enough, but I don’t need to. For you, I know just the person to thank you for me – Jesus.

May He reward you because of that moment you spoke to Him about Muthoni. And as I prayed the curses of Deuteronomy 28 on her captors (yes, I hang my head in shame), I pray the blessings of Deuteronomy 28 on each and every one of you. May the good Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.

May you be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. May your work and the fruits of your labour be blessed. May you be blessed when you come in and when you go out. May your enemies be defeated and scattered. May everything you put your hand on be blessed. And most of all, may the good Lord love you with a love that completely baffles you and defies all explanation, logic or science 🙂 .

Today, I finally put off the candle that I had lit for Muthoni on this blog, with a smile on my face; and replace it with “Thank you Jesus”! It is Jesus!

Welcome home Muthoni Kanga.

I call you Friend

So my MG-friend is getting married on Thursday… this Thursday. I’m equal parts excited and terrified.

Excited because… she’s getting married! It’s what we have been praying for. For her to get a husband. A guy who’s totally sold out to Jesus and who will treat her like the amazing person she is. And she has gotten that. I’ve met her husband-to-be and he’s somebody you’d let one of your best friends introduce to her dad 🙂 . You wouldn’t need to put on your Hollywood hat and try everything to make sure she doesn’t. He’s a solid guy. I’m happy she’s marrying a guy who gets her… if you’ve met my MG-friend…you know she needs to be gotten. One day she’ll be under the bed at midnight making decisions! Yeah, you better know what’s going on!

Excited because… God answered our prayers for her, He will answer our prayers for the rest of us. We’re all going through that phase (maybe except my reluctant-model friend) where we’re wondering when it’ll be us getting married. It’s not easy. The pressure!! Biological clocks, three shrieking eggs 🙂 , we’ve really heard it all. The world reminds you six ways to Sunday, as if you could forget! So, it’s exciting to remember that we worship this God who has answered this prayer (and very many others). It reminds you that His report is what you should believe… not the world’s.

Excited because… she’s starting a whole new chapter of her life. Something she’s never done before. It’s like a blank cute notebook and she gets to write whatever she wants on it! She gets to start a new life with someone she’s rationally and irrationally crazy about. I can’t wait to see how this changes her and grows her. I know it’ll be exciting for her and in a small part for me too as I get to be in her life and see her, hubby and Jesus work through this phase.

Excited because… we get to dress up real pretty and stand up with her. We get to be there, right there with her. We get to witness that moment in her life when she says “I do” and hopefully sheds a tear or two. Ok, maybe the groom will shed a tear or two… wouldn’t that be sweet! We get to make this day memorable and fun for her and I can’t wait!

Excitement is good. I like excitement. It lifts the soul and makes you think that everything is right with the world… until it isn’t. Until she becomes a married woman and has married-woman friends who are not you! I’m terrified.

Terrified… that today and tomorrow is the closest we’ll ever be and come Thursday, it’s a sort of good bye. She’ll walk out of that church with her husband and a new life in-front of her and I’ll be part of the past. The old life she’ll be leaving behind.

Terrified that our friendship will never be the same again. That our Thursday prayer sleepovers will be a thing of the past. That we will never run after trains with the Dutch again. That we can’t just wake up one day and go to Karichota to sit in a freezing river as we sing Safaricom ad songs. That we will no longer spend hours scouring the net for lodges we will never afford in this lifetime.

Terrified that Randa Randa will be one of those things she’ll only be able to do once every five years. After we give her five years written and notarised notice. With an itemised itinerary. And pre-approved destinations. And a signed undertaking to get back to Nairobi on the exact day indicated on the itinerary.

Terrified that I will now have only 4 friends! I can’t have 4 friends. I’m old and set in my ways and my ways involve 5 friends! 5 friends!

Yes, I’m excited and I’m terrified.

Okay, so maybe my being scared sounds like too bleak a picture… and it is. I know my MG-friend and she wouldn’t do this to me. To the girls. At least not without a fight. I know she will fight for this friendship…with all 5 of us. She has done it before.

I know our friendship will change. I expect it to. But I also know that we’re the kind of friends that Jesus has put together for the long-haul. That he has given us a beautiful friendship on this side of the Kingdom because it’s a friendship with the Rock of ages as its foundation. I know that He will change the dynamics of our friendship in a way that when we look back, we will see his hands all over it.

I believe, as C.S Lewis wrote:

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”

He chose us for each other (*warm fuzzy feeling*).

So, as you start a new life on Thursday, I wish you nothing but happiness in your marriage and your new life. I look forward with excitement to this new chapter of your life and our friendship because this friendship – MG-girl, reluctant-model, killer-smile, pulpit-girl, biker-girl and I – is for life!

May the Lord keep watch between us when we are away from each other.

Aside

Because Death could not hold him

I love Easter. Not just because i get four days of rest or randa randa with my friends (which by the way are both good enough reasons 🙂 ). No, i love Easter because today, Easter Sunday, is the reason i live and move and have my being.

It is the reason I am who I am. It is the reason i know without a doubt that despite how good this world seems to me… there’s something better after this :)… a glorious day is coming.

I like how Casting Crowns put it.

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
Dwelt among men, my example is He
Word became flesh and the light shined among us
His glory revealed

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now He’s ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my Beloved One, bringing
My Savior, Jesus, is mine

I worship and put my hope in someone that even death could not hold. Someone who loved me to death and to life. Today all I feel is loved.

And I look forward to that glorious day when the Son of Man will come on the clouds of heaven.

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