Friday, April 28, 2006

Mama Njeri

Last week Jecinta passed away. It came as a shock when I received the news from her husband, Paul, that she was in a Nairobi hospital after suffering a stroke. As I write this note her body is still in the morgue and won’t be released until the hospital bill of $8,500 is paid. In Kenya, bodies left in the morgue for long periods of time is not unusual. There was a politician whose body remained in the cooler for over a year until the dispute, between his wives, was resolved on where he would be buried.

Paul Gichuki was one of the first men who became a believer in our ministry in Kenya back in 1977. He became pastor of the church nine months after it was established. A couple of years later he and Jecinta got married. We always called her Mama Njeri, after their first child, Njeri, was born.

Jecinta was not an overly friendly person. While she was always kind to my family, and me, she wasn’t warm. She would sit and laugh and engage in discussion when she did sit down to visit, but it wasn’t natural for her. I think she was always shy around us, maybe a little intimidated.

Paul has been pastor of the Makutano Baptist Church for over 25 years. A bi-vocational pastor, Paul has been a farmer, a merchant, a Bible teacher, all at the same time. He and Jecinta, who are Kikuyu, were forced out of West Pokot District a few years back because of sectarian violence. Though he now lives thirty miles away from his church, several times each week Paul makes the trip to Makutano to lead his flock.

The Gichuki’s and Lewis’s are forever linked. Our children grew up together. Paul and I pioneered the work in West Pokot together. I buried his father in 1979 after Masai cattle raiders killed him. We watched four of his six grow before we left Kenya in 1989. Pastor Paul is one of the most deeply godly men I have ever met, so it does not come as a surprise to me that he has accepted Mama Nejeri’s early home-going as the Sovereignty of God. My prayer goes out to Paul. My thanks to all of you who have helped him financially and for those who are praying for him. Jecinta will be buried May 5th.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:3).