“Hey Dad, has the Holy Spirit ever visited you in your life?” I shyly asked in a whisper but without emotions.
The wind was fierce and seemed uncontrollable, without direction. Darkness had set in. Up above, the moon slipped into sight, its glow visible along the rim of high clouds, stars covered by the black sky. We were standing right outside the Jubilee Ministry Centre entrance at CITAM Valley Road. Bordering on, was the parking lot, near the white tents. People were leaving. Flashlights of several cars pierced through the darkness, reflecting against the white tents, one would have thought evening had just set in yet it was just about 8:40 pm. We lingered awaiting my sister (it just had to be her). I was at the third step, my dad at the first step of the stairway. I really thought about this question, my hands now dangling at my sides. My dad was deeply engrossed in his Samsung smartphone, his hands now used to the digital world. I had no sweater. And can’t say I’m innocent either. In my early twenties, a goatee and the firstborn in the family, sweaters was simply asinine for the man that I am. I hold dear the days my mom would make me wear my pullover, smiling whenever I got tangled in the sleeves but guess I’m grown now. I now write this with a cold; sneezing and a running nose. Guess, I’m not that tough after all.
Talking about my mom: She was just a few steps from us, inside the car with my younger brother in all likelihood listening to his grandiose wishes; a dog, Ps4, skateboard, maybe next will be a horse and the next after that, pigs will fly. So it was just me and my dad. Father and son. Mentor and protégé. Friend and friend. Man and man.
Wasn’t certain what his riposte would be.
My dad looked up from the phone, dropped his hand down next to his waist, the other holding the phone at his chest. He looked straight into my eyes. Even with his glasses on, I felt he knew my thoughts, understood my soul. Without a glint in his eyes that showed amusement but with a sagacious expression on his face, he murmured, “Ooh, my son, you’ve forgot I was a pastor.”…
(Hang in there, I’m heading somewhere)
Later that week I had spent it in church. From Tuesday to Saturday, then tomorrow, definitely. There was a convention, ‘Springboard’. Persons from the world over, graced the occasion. From Ethiopia to Malawi, to Rwanda, to Zambia to the United States of America and… Kenya. Okay, maybe not everywhere. From white skin colors to dark and brown. From people with names we’ve never heard before, to sons of the greatest, paid a visit. From Bishops to Reverends, to Elders to Deacons, to Senior Pastors to Pastors, to Teachers to News Anchors, to Young Professionals to Musicians then… to Me.
Let me shed some LifeSages on one of the many that touched… touch?… That had a massive impact on my life. It’s about conscience.
And what is conscience? It’s the answer to which you ask yourself this question, “Who am I?” Yes, that answer. That answer is your conscience.
Truth be told, most of you don’t know the answer to that question and have no idea what you’d answer self. I resonate with you in that I also didn’t. And if you know, it’s jaded. Probably with low self esteem, the environment around you with it’s impossible goals, life experience that left you in fits of pain and disappointment, what others have said about you, your culture, media, education, soap operas and rap music.
Tuesday’s 26th insights were deep. The Devil, father of all lies, comes and alters your conscience (Who am I?), derails your thinking, and once you are a hodgepodge, in disarray, by successfully making you think of yourself other than you ought to or be somebody that you’re not, then he leaves you, departs from you and as a direct result of your own thoughts; you fail, or ruin your life with some bad decisions, filled with regrets or send the years of experience down the drain… by yourself! You drink yourself silly, your hope is snatched, your vision is darkened, your knowledge wings are clipped, you abuse your spouse, you deem yourself unworthy of success or love: only by messing up your conscience (Who am I?). You don’t know who you are.
That led to Solomon noting in the Book of Proverbs (23:7), “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Or the famous, “… but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Other versions put it, “… but let God change the way you think.” Or “… but be reformed in the newness of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
If you’re not religious (I’m also not a religious person. However, I’m a person of enormous faith in God and with the ever-growing relationship, alters my thoughts and actions), I have you sorted.
Napoleon Hill, the author of the famous, ‘Think and Grow Rich’ and who became the advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1933-36 once said, “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
Conscience: Who am I?
On Friday the 29th, at around 6:45 pm, each person either with a shout, a mutter or a yell was talking to their God as the choir who donned in white, black and red color raiment led worship. The words: simple and sweet. Their voices glowed in the dim light, singing their hearts out, and none, at any one point, sounded like a broken record. Some ladies were bejeweled and their hair went down their shoulders gracefully. Men could be seen standing at attention like a line of scouts; others were kneeling, a few sitting down. Hands were raised, faces faced the ceiling of the church, and others bowed as the pianist played the keys. You could see tears on faces, wet-wipes clutched in their left hand, maybe to control the flow of sweat as thousands gave thanks to the Almighty, acknowledging that it isn’t their own efforts that produced the blessings, prosperity or wealth. What a humble scene!
Beside me on each end, on both sides, stood two great young men. On my left was a tall, slender, stooped and well shaven being. On my right, was a short – slightly shorter than me, small but sturdy, big jaws, brown in color and a very intellectual being. The guy to my left lets name him Dennis*. On my right, Ben*. I met Dennis that evening perhaps three hours before. Ben, I knew him, a little. Nonetheless, knew him. (Dig deep into their stories)
I’ll start with Ben. Ben is a Philosopher. He graduated from the University of Nairobi, about 2 years ago, with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology or Sociology. I’m not sure, maybe both. He’s very intellectual and eloquent too. Quoting Aristotle in every sentence. Letting me in on Charles Dickens books that at one point I thought he co-authored them. He was an atheist. First, this is a big deal for me. I’ve never had a ‘friend’ who’s an atheist or was. He’d started writing a book on the non-existence of God and in his own ruthless words, “That’s absolutely absurd!” Apparently, I’ve missed the guy so I’ll give him a call after this.
Dennis was a ‘club’ boy. Partying every week. His eyes are bloodshot. There isn’t any booze he hasn’t drank or spirits. I’ll remove Countryman from the list. He was always high as a kite and drunk as a skunk. Women were plain ABC’s. He asserts he was friends with Eric Omondi, the comedian, way back in Primary School. His lifestyle made him leave school after Form Four.
Me: my story isn’t compelling, not coming even close.
The singing went on, turned to music, the music of living.
… I surrender all to You…
Everything I give to You
… Withholding nothing…
Ben on my right, his hands were above his head, eyes closed, shaking like a faulty engine and singing straight from his heart. With passion and certainty that there is a Being above that ceiling or hovering below who hears him. Who cares for him. And at that point what you said or thought didn’t matter. Maybe he discovered that he didn’t always have to do something; that he didn’t have to remind the sun to set and nudge the moon to rise. That the stars will shine anyway and the rivers will flow.
Now Dennis on the left – mind you it’s a worship song – brought Jamaican Ragga Styles to the floor. His eyes wide-open, facing the pulpit, legs moving in sync with his hands (Right leg-Left hand and vice-versa), back bent was with unbridled energy, limitless enthusiasm. As fast as his problems came as fast as they could leave, he believed. All around the cacophony of voices, you’d still hear him stomp his feet and clap his hands. He’d go on and on and on. He didn’t really know the words of the song but knew where the praise was directed. And if he didn’t know the song, at least he knew one thing, to dance. And boy, did he direct it! This was an honest sentiment. I can distinguish a stagecraft, he is not a huckster. He fellowships at Woodley and plans to join the choir disclosing how he admires them. This September, he enrolls for a degree in Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Nairobi. I wish him well.
Reminds me of what he told me earlier in Swahili, “Evans, outside there (life without Jesus) is darkness. In here (life with Jesus) there is light.” I could sense the pinch of his former blighted years.
I stood right in their midst rubbing shoulders at one point and giving each other high-fives. Now I didn’t move, my hands lifted up over my waist, face tilted upward, smiling with my front teeth and as I repeated the line, “withholding nothing” I knew these two guys really understood their conscience (Who am I?). That they were born to be Kings. That royal blood flowed in their veins and that they didn’t have to do something big to prove themselves.
Whilst they ran – like I do – their lanky limbs pumping wildly, their chest jutting out as if straining for an imaginary tape, to God, with shattered hopes and dreams, with more questions and demanding answers, needing a sign and searching for love, wanting a manual not to waste more years, tears changing their complexion; then God murmurs, “Ooh, my son, you’ve forgot I’m God.”…