Jul 21, 2022 | Church News • Liturgy
My life has always been a contradiction. A gay Christian. A pro-lifer who believes passionately in a woman's right to choose and an ethnic minority in America from an ethnic majority in Kenya. One born poor but for years blamed others for their poverty because I got a chance they didn't. There've been many contradictions in my life, but spirituality, sexuality, and poverty always win. These three are my biggies and significantly influence my life's outlook.
My first contradiction was spirituality. Mom raised us Catholics and named me Moses. My early influencers were Fr. Dominic Kianduma and Fr. Eugene of Montfort Fathers, a missionary to Kenya at the time. The integrity of these priests in acknowledging theological unknowns, passion for the economically disadvantaged, and love for their congregation inspired me to dream of becoming a priest. A dream shattered at age fourteen after being told that I needed to remain celibate to serve as a priest. I liked girls.
My second contradiction was reconciling sexuality with spirituality. In the late 90s, my desire to serve God rekindled after attending Teresia Wairmu's crusade at Uhuru Park, Nairobi. I admired Wairimu's rise above Kenya's patriarchic Pentecostal movement and her courage to speak the truth to power. Influenced by Kenya's flourishing pentecostal movement emphasizing heteronormative family values, I founded the Christ End Time Ambassadors (CETA) Global Ministry in 1998. More than a decade later, at Atlanta Bible College, I could no longer hold the contradictions within me and wrote my coming out letter: I loved boys.
My third contradiction was reconciling my authenticity with the economic impact of my decision. Most friends characterized my coming out in 2011 as doltish. I hadn't been born in a family of means. Mom raised my six siblings and me in a 12ft by 15ft room. Absent our dad's support; mom sold groceries at Kawangware market, similar to the fresh farmers' markets in the US. Skipping meals to meet other basic needs was common or missing school due to my mom's inability to raise tuition costs. My name was a synonym for chronic absenteeism in my last high school year.
In 2001, the Children's Cabinet selected me as their junior vice-president, giving me a chance that many impoverished kids lacked. My star rose steadily after that, serving as youth president of Kenya and Chair of Africa of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Africa Foundation. An avalanche of opportunities became available to me as I became more prominent in Kenya's political and church space. The chief reason friends felt my Coming out limited my career trajectory and subjected my family, at the time financially insecure, to shame and ridicule.
My final contradiction was reconciling with a God that I thought hated me. In 2015 at my rock bottom, I promised God that if I got a second chance, I would give 10 percent of my income to further my calling. God answered. I instituted MLIFE to support academically under-performing gifted, Black children and youth. I desired to create a space for those impacted with substance abuse, the poor and the marginalized, the historically excluded, and gay people like me to be seen, heard, and honored. Importantly, I wanted our place to be a spiritual home for everyone, absent coercion or judgment.
Growing up, I hated myself intensely for "falling to gay sin" instead of serving a God who called me in my mother's womb. I was ashamed of my poverty and wished for death numerous times instead of brevity to overcome adversity. I am glad I experienced these moments because they imbued my passion for dismantling interlocking systems of alienation and exploitation. The things that were once a contradiction empowered me to find Moses, amplify others, leverage my social capital, and become a force of good. Perhaps, a slight contradiction is all we need to see ourselves and our vocation. -m