During COVID-19 challenges, lockdowns and directives by the Kenya Government, OneLife Africa found opportunities to continue ministering through community food and medical supplies distributions. Several of our students also joined efforts through other initiatives to creatively and effectively serve in their communities. Calvin Shikuku and Edwin Odhiambo, two of our students, were publicly commended by the Kenyan President, H. E. Uhuru Kenyatta for their service to the residents of Mathare slums in Nairobi, Kenya-an honor that no one was expecting. Calvin and Edwin have been committed to supporting the residents of Mathare slums through youth advocacy, program implementation and community cleanups. Both were born and raised in Mathare slums and have been part of OneLife Africa scholarship and mentoring program.
Calvin and Edwin were team leaders of a global award winning Green Project Innitiative that provides clean, affordable, accessible, and reliable cooking energy to residents of informal settlements by producing briquettes from organic waste, a product that became essential during the Covid-19 pandemic to residence of Mathare slums. OneLife Africa is proud of Calvin, Edwin and all of our students who are providing the much needed help and inspiring eternal hope to communities in need around East Africa. It is encouraging to note that OneLife Africa students remained diligent in their High school and university studies despite the global pandemic. OneLife Africa University Class of 2021 completed and attended virtual graduation ceremonies. As we celebrate Ten years in ministry, we are grateful to God for His faithfulness, even in the midst of global crisis. We have seen God fulfil His promises in many areas, especially in the lives of OneLife Africa class of 2021. We dedicate all our graduates to God as they seek to serve Christ in their communities and vocations. This Newsletter contains three brief stories of Class of 2021 university graduates.
God Fulfills Promises.
In January 2022, OneLife Africa was joined by a team from Redeemer Lutheran Church, Damascus, Maryland for a mission outreach in Kenya. The time in Nairobi was spent visiting students families in Mathare slums. In Nakuru, the team facilitated a one week University student discipleship camp, while in Narok county, we were welcomed by community elders to a Maasai village. We visited, prayed and sang about Jesus our everlasting Hope. Looking at the events that surround us today, we can all agree that our hope is based on nothing less but Jesus Christ. In the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, class of 2021 graduated from various Universities. Zakayo Omusugu (Zak) graduated from Kabarak University in December 2021. He was sponsored and mentored by OneLife Africa in secondary and throughout his university studies; one of the nine boys that attended the first LEAD Program in 2018; while attending classes at Kabarak University, Zak was actively involved in the operations of the OneLife Africa Student Campus.
Zakayo Omusugu Graduation
Zak was featured in the Summer 2018 issue of the OneLife Africa Newsletter. In that article, Zak shared his personal story of how he joined OneLife Africa. As part of a large polygamous family with many children, he and his mother and siblings struggled to find food and security. Psalm 55:22, “Cast all your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.” This scripture has been a source of great encouragement for Zak. With the support of OneLife Africa, Zak’s aspiration to pursue an education has become a reality at a level few in his community have realized.
It is said that nothing happens in a vacuum and Zak’s achievement is no different. Through the fog of distance and culture it can be hard for OneLife Africa supporters to see the far reaching effect of their generosity when combined with persistence and hard work on part of the student. We got but a glimpse of this from recent events subsequent to Zak’s graduation. He shared that on his return home from Camp on January 15th there was a community wide celebration held in honor of his graduation with over 300 people in attendance.
Another of Zak’s favorite scripture quoted in the 2018 Newsletter speaks powerfully into these events; “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (I Peter 5:7)” Who could have imagined such an outpouring of honor! God’s timing is always perfect and his blessings even more than we can imagine. Zak also stated in the 2018 article, “. . .God used OLA to make my way visible, straight and clear. I have discovered the dreams I have for my life and now, with God, I can make them a reality.” Congratulation to Zak and all the recent graduates. All glory to God for His blessing in making their dreams a reality
OneLife Africa Mission Outreach
I can do All things Through Christ who strenghthens me. -Philippians 4:13
The last 10 years I have faced challenges and experienced God’s grace in more ways than I can count. I successfully completed high school, law school, and am currently studying for Bar exams. It took faith, dedication, and encouragement from family and supporters who I may never meet in this life. For that I’m thankful.
I have received transformative education that emphasized critical thinking and character development, which is opening doors for professional progression. My 14-year-old thoughts about the future and the direction my life would take have unfolded a little different than I had imagined, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. God led me to the right people to help me navigate and achieve the unconventional objectives that led me to law school. I have my sights on pursuing a career in technology, Intellectual Property and their intersections with law. I’m currently working in a research capacity at an organization that is aligned with that goal. I am excitedly anxious to explore where this path will lead me. Reflecting back on the decade, I have grown as a person to be more self-aware and confident in my identity in Jesus Christ alone.
Experiences of the last decade and specific individuals have positively impacted my faith journey. I’m blessed to have been surrounded by a community that finds joy in the service of God. These influences have steered me in the right direction and allowed me to grow, reflect and claim faith for myself, not merely because of what others have told me. God has been faithful in the midst of challenges. I have found comfort in God, knowing that he has been, and will always be there for me.
As uncertain as the future may be, I am convinced that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”Phillipians 4:13. I’m grateful to all who have contributed to my success in life, education and discipleship. Thank you OneLife Africa family for walking alongside me and being part of my journey.
Hope for the Unseen
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1
I would like to thank the Almighty God for the gift of good health and life, enabling me to live to this date. Many have gone before me especially in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and many other complications but the Lord has kept me safe. As OneLife Africa mentee, my high school fees were taken care of from the time I joined 9th grade in February 2011 to the time I completed 12th grade in November 2014 at Kanga High School, Migori County. This enabled me to concentrate fully on my studies since there were no disruptions such as being sent home for lack of school fees and it also reduced the pressure of fees payment on my parents. At the end of the four years in high school, I passed the high stakes examinations, scoring A plain (82 points out of 84) which guaranteed me a place at the University of Nairobi to pursue Economics and Statistics. During the quarterly school holiday camps, I was able to join fellow mentees and the One Life Africa team from the United States of America in a week long bible camps. There were many take aways from the camps, including renewal of faith, fellowship and sharing with peers on the different aspects of life.
At the University of Nairobi, I joined University Bible Fellowship, where I continued to learn more about God’s word, the fellowship helped to further get me grounded. I graduated from the university with a Second Class Upper Division in Economics and Statistics and I am currently working as a Programs Officer at NIKO GREEN, a management and consulting firm. I am deeply thankful to OneLife Africa for offering me the opportunity to be part of the Discipleship (LEAD program). Looking forward into the future, I hope to support the programs of OneLife Africa. Also, it is my desire to further my studies by pursuing a Masters in Public Policy. On matters of faith, I continue to trust upon the Lord to lead my path. I rely on Hebrews 11:1 to guide me daily
“My graduation day has arrived and my joy is overwhelming! Ten years ago I would see people in their graduation attires and all I could do was dream that some day that could be me. However God my Father had mercy on me and showed me the cross. This cross came not only with forgiveness and salvation but with hope to affirm my dream of obtaining education to the highest level, a kind only affordable to the other class of society in which I did not belong.
“By the end of my four years in high school, I had a sense of meaning and purpose. This pushed me to pursue exactly what God created me to do, balanced with my hopes to bring myself and my family out of poverty. God began pointing out the things that make my heart ache, and showing me what makes my heart smile. I hated to see children suffering and how women were abused in society, realities such as child abuse, rape, domestic violence, child trafficking, and discrimination against women especially of lower class. For this reason, law was one of the courses I had applied to study after high school and I was devastated to miss the required points. I was instead “matched” to study Library & Information Science, something for which I had no interest or passion. But I had no choice and so I began the admission process all while throwing many questions at God.
“And then a miracle happened. One evening as I walked home with friends from our worship practice, I was stopped by Andrew’s brother Douglas who explained about OneLife Africa and the possibility to be sponsored to study what I really wanted. I felt like God had physically landed on earth to answer my prayer. He alone could turn events in that manner.
“As a scholar of OneLife Africa, I joined the University of Nairobi in September 2011 to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in law. I was able to pay for tuition and board through the help of generous people in OneLife Africa who selflessly gave towards not only my support but that of the entire OLA family in Kenya. I am eternally grateful, God bless your souls. God has seen me through the highs and lows of all the past four years. Graduating among the top students is one thing I cannot take for granted. God enabled me to work hard, and He has blessed the work of my hands.
“Before I can be admitted as an advocate of the High Court of Kenya, I have to complete one year at the Kenya School of Law beginning January 2016, followed by 6 months of pupilage at a law firm or government organization. I still hope to be a human rights lawyer, focusing on women and children. Rather than work for a law firm waiting for a human rights case, I want to be on the front line, preferably working with an organization that addresses these violations and comes up with solutions, sensitization and precautions. I want to see children protected and acquiring education while women are stepping up in their God given abilities to positively impact the world for the glory of God. Though I’m not exactly sure how the next steps will take shape, I am trusting God to guide my path, just like I did back in 2011.
“To Andrew and Stephanie, I lack words to appreciate your support in all ways, you have been parents to me through the four years. God bless you and enlarge your territories. To the entire OneLife Africa team supporting us, Bridge ministries, Hallelujah Toffee team and volunteers, and everyone who prays for and who donates towards OLA, I cannot thank you enough for your selfless sacrifice. May God Almighty make His face shine upon you and keep sustaining you forever. To the OLA students, thank you for allowing me to be a mentor to you in the best way I know how. Meanwhile, I am graduating! A dream come true.
“Surely the Lord lifts the poor from the dust, and sits them with kings. I am reminded of Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o’s words: “No matter where you come from, your dreams are valid.”