By CAROLINE BONGO
It was the 4th of October 2012, the day I was was to launch my book “In the arms of a stranger” . It was a date that had been set after deep strategy and lots of consultations. By the time we set the date almost two months in advance, everything had looked perfect, nothing could go wrong?
But everything had gone wrong and yesterday a lady that has been earnestly praying for the event approached me in church and said;
“The day is finally here, its Thursday, isnt it?”
I froze, I had forgotten to inform her plus others that we had invited that the launch had been cancelled!
I looked back and revisited the preparations of what we was to be a very important event in my life.
It was to be branded “THE LAUNCH”
You know like the book launch of the century?!
The stage was set for a successful launch!
” I wanted an event of the highest possible standard and I was choosing a 5 star hotel to go with it (Was I asking for too much? “
The guest speaker Ole Kiyiapi was to grace the event, I had chosen this one man and politician for several reasons: He was a born again Christian, he was an influential leader, but most importantly, behind this not so confident looking man is a story, a story of courage, a story of strong will power. This man who hopes to be Kenya’s next president ( though many may not agree with him) has come from very far, from taking himself to school at 11 straight from a heavily nomadic Kenyan tribe (The Masai) to being a senior government officer and a professor. I truly admire him!
The venue of the event , yes the venue, The Intercontinental hotel; I know! You must be thinking ‘the expense!’ true, but I wanted an event of the highest possible standard and I was choosing a 5 star hotel to go with it (Was I asking for too much?)
IN THE ARMS OF A STRANGER
The Book “In the Arms of a stranger” was inspired by my own life. I went through a very difficult phase of life where everything that could have gone wrong seemed to go wrong. After fighting depression and almost going insane.
I was able to experience Gods grace in my life and I can now mentor others that are still stuck “In the Arms of the stranger (The Devil)”
Advertising and promotions; We had approached various media houses, radio stations, TV stations, print media, all in the name of sourcing affordable advertisement. We had already managed two stations that could support us and a few more media houses that could do it at a reasonable cost. Some proved too expensive, we left those out. We believed that the few we had managed were enough for God to use to reach our target audience.
The date, this launch was supposed to happen a long time ago, but we had never really managed, so finally we had settled for October 4th. This was not too close to elections, but also not too close to fail.
The season; There seemed to be so much favor surrounding this event and the release of this book; first of all the final manuscript was out ready for printing and I liked what had come out; Thanks to the keen eye of my hubby. Dont even start thinking ‘wau!’ we argued like mad when it came to deciding which photos to use, what content to put where etc, but finally I let him be, creativity is his element; and I am glad I did so because it came out better that I had ever anticipated
Secondly, I started getting speaking engagements in a row, just like that; First it was media; hope FM, breath of heaven, Truth Fm, big testimony, Hope FM, Binti. Then there were the churches: House of grace Embakasi, with pastor Mary Achero (We call her mom, the other day my daughter Kaylene cracked me up when she asked with a very serious look on her face; “If pastor Mary is mom to you guys, is she our grandmother, I mean to the Sunday school kids?” )
Then there was House of Grace with Pastor Ronica, Nairobi west, then there was JCC Parklands, Daughters of Zion with Pastor Cathy (I was so scared standing in front of all those ladies; I just acted tough!), and more. I loved sharing and motivating especially single mothers but as much as I tried to get the book out, it didnt work. Over time I started getting really embarassed for promising people a book that was only exisiting in the spiritual realm!
” It doesnt matter how much we plan, but He is the only one that can perfect “
The MC; I remember driving home full of excitement the day Pastor Robert Burare one of the best MCs we have in the country offered to MC the event for free! Just like that! Surely there were very many open doors, the favor of God was clearly going ahead of us. I recall that day as we waited to be released for the final copy of the book to take for printing, this man of God had held hands with us and prayed. But before the prayer he had taken time to speak to us the most interesting revelation I have had this season.
Quoting Ecc 3;11, He makes all things beutiful in its time he made known to us that it actually it meant in ‘its’ own time. All along I had thought the verse talks of Gods own time, but the time reference was actually in regard to a ‘Thing!’. In our case it was the book. He implored us to know the season that God had set for this book. To him (and even to me) it looked like this was the season. He revealed to us that it was very important that we operate in the right season that God had set for this book. That day I left with a deep prayer in my heart “Lord help me to know my seasons,and to operate in them; and most importantly to know what to do so that I can do it in Your time”
Resources; The only hitch we could foresee now remained the finances, but even for these, I could not foresee a serious challenge. For starters, I never, ever rely on my bank account to achieve any idea that God has put into my mind, I always pray and trust and God has always been faith full. My family has severally survived heart attacks when I have taken a plunge into the unknown with no idea where where I will land. Countless times they have sat me down telling me to learn to take ‘calculated risks!’ and to be honest I am person that listens. But lots of times even if I try to calculate using whichever formula, I never seem to get any answer; so 100% of the times, I end up just taking the risk; not knowing whether I will make it but all the same I try!
This time round though, I wasn’t taking much a risk per say, we had money out there that our people owed us that was enough to take care of this launch; putting the date almost two months before would ensure that they would already have paid up and we could pay the venue, advertisments and promotions ,print enough copies of the books and anything else that we would need to give ‘the event’ the pomp it needed. No wonder a month prior the event I had confidently announced to my family “Welcome to the event of the year”
Of course all that did not happen, not at all; that is why the evening of 4th of October 2012 found me sited on my bed putting down my thoughts in paper, a practice I have gotten used to over the years when I am feeling down. Instead of being at intercontinental , I was in my house, in the bedroom; I just wanted to be alone, to think and take a, trip down the memory lane; what did I do wrong this time round, didnt I pray enough, or did I pray amiss, was it as a result of will of God, or the devil?
You can be sure, I were rather I could be greeting my guests as they came in, one by one; looking at my best, in that african dress I took so long to design in my head, taking swift glances at the amazing 30 inch dummy of the book being used for the launch, smilling at all my friends especially those that I havent seen for a long time, seeing my family at the front, excited for me as well as scared for me (The book containes highly embarrasing dosier of my life, and I have had to sit them and kindly ask them to forgive me for what I am going to do!) believers and non believers in me walking into ‘THE EVENT’
I were rather, instead of sitting here feeling like a failure, be unveiling the dream of my life, dancing along with the appointed live band (Kaberia and the clan were our first choice). I have even been flirting with the idea of doing a presentation, ‘’Jua kwa maombi yenu’ by Upendo Nkone; the story of my life, true story and I was there! I can imagine my husband being in his element; this one man believes in me more than I believe in myself. It would have been a great party, if only it would have happened.
This is not the first time though that I have planned for an event that failed, the first launch I ever planned was of my st music album ‘’Mbingu Zamuinamia’ Swahili for heavens bow be fore Him. After Leaving JKUAT, I got a bunch of my friends and we did an 11 song album that according to my brain cells was going to ‘rock the city!’ and it did, for a few weeks! This time round there was not even a chance I could deliberate whether it was the will of God or a battle from hell. It was the latter.
A few months into the target launch date, I had left Nairobi to go look for what they call greener pastures, I found out the pastures were really green! it was a farm right in the middle of nowhere! After graduating with a degree with horticulture the most sober thing to do by a very protective dad was work; it made sense of course, even to me; but I wanted to do other things in life then; ; Like sing and sing and sing for the rest of my life. Going to work wasn’t the problem, it was the fact that I started working I quickly forgot where I had come from, very soon I left the fold of the sheep that I had fed with since age 12 when I gave my life to Christ. I now hooked up with ‘them guys’ and quickly I learnt their ways.
I didnt have much choice of company though, it was right in the village and they were my best shot to not rusting out there. They never drank too much, in fact I never saw them drank, they had funny stories and thats where I could fit in, BUT; they were not born again. Very soon, I stopped going to church, praying, or even having any fellowship of sort with local christians. My very dear bible accumulated layers of dust at the corner of my one roomed house (feels like I am talking about the one eyed, single cell evil dudu in sponge bob square pants!, watching cartoon comes from having a bunch of kids in one house, my daughters!)
Eventually my spirtual man went kaput and before I knew it, I had fallen into temptation, broken a long engagement with a man I looked up to spiritually and my life generally was running downhill. Of course that was the end of the proposed launch and the start of a very miserable life.
Later on I was to face shame and embarrassment when my parents planned for bridal negotiations that never happened. These events were hurriedly prepared to cover the shame I had brought to the family by having a child out of wedlock, it was also from my side to prove that the father of my child was serious after all. They never happened! And neither did the wedding.
Like most people I take failure too heavily. I dont even think the ‘thing’ is what has failed, I tell myself that I am a failure. This has been built from a childhood of being told I was a failure. Its true, I would always do lots of things like a total dunder head! Sometimes I would do something and I would look back and also ask myself in utter disbelief
“How did you manage to pull that!”
I remember one time due to my forgetfulness I devised a way to make sure I would never have to be reminded of something again. So the next time I was sent, instead of writting the stuff on a paper that I would eventually place somewhere and forget, I wrote on my hand, specifically the arm. This was after forth form while waiting for my letter for university admission. My dad had opened a shop at our local trading center so that I could keep busy as well as learn some business acumen as I waited to proceed to the university.
Normally most of the times my mother would give me a list of what she wanted for the evening as I left for the shop to go back in with items in the evening. A lot of the time it was part of our supper. By evening I would remember, remember that I was asked to bring back home something; something I had no idea what it was; For an hour I would keep trying to remember, in vain
“Was it sugar, Tea leaves, Cooking oil?”
And I couldnt remember however much I tried. Eventually I would carry something say cooking fat, only to get home to find mom had asked for sugar, meaning we were having Dubia (Sugarless tea) for breakfast the next day. You do not want to face my mothers wrath for such an error! I would hate myself,
“What is wrong with me”
repeated this question that I had asked myself since I could say ‘Ba Be Bi Bo Bu’
“Are there mentally retarded people in this world that are bright in school?” I would keep wondering, this came from my mom justifiably losing it over the years and she would scream
If you had a daughter like me, you would have called me the same.
Today my 1st born daughter pulls such stunts on me and I can’t believe it, actually when she does that the first thing I want to ask her is if she a fool!
But she can never beat me!
Then I remember how that same word managed to kill my self esteem and confidence over the years, so I hold my tongue before the obvious blurts out!
In class one in order not to lose pencils my father would buy a dozen of pencils for the term, each week he would cut the pencil into 5 pieces, one for each day! And since I could even lose that small piece before the end of the day, he would make a slight cut enought to tie a string and this string would be tied to my school bag!
When I got to high school I would literally lose everything, to be honest, I did not know how! At times my parents didnt know what to do with me any more. They almost had to buy new uniform every term, severally I faced punishments to get me to be responsible, no punishment though was worse than disapointing my mother again, and that I would work hard to avoid; but I never ever quite managed!
So back to this one day that I write on my hand, I go to the shop confident that today is the day, I will bring home everything my mom has asked for! Guess what happened by the end of the day; I forgot I had written on my arm! after still guess picking what my mom had wanted, and going home to a totally frustrated mother, I saw the writtings as I changed clothes admist my teary face!
“How can a normal human being forget such a thing?”
Clearly I wasnt part of the human race.
So you see with me, stuff doesnt just happen, ‘things’ dont fail, I am the one that fails. I sometimes used to think I have perfected the art of failing. Worse still when in my career I had bosses that totally put me down, making me feel I was not going to amount to anything in life. At times today,I feel like calling them and telling them
“See what the Lord has done!”
But I totally understand them, I wasnt perfect by a far chance.
For people that know me personally though, its hard to believe I had to pull out of such a child hood and such serious weaknesses. I didnt know what was wrong with me until I saw a program on family TV on ADD, Attention Defiency Disorder. I remember we were watching this program with my brother and as they started running over the symptoms my brother Dagi said;
“There it is, we finally discover what your problem is!”
The successes in my life superceed by far my failures. God has greatly endowed me with numerous gifts of which I will not talk of here. There are few people that are blessed to excell in more than 5 gifts at the same time. Recently I met a man of God, a prophet from Congo and he said to me, if I had only one gift of the gifts the Lord has given to you; I would conquer the world!
I thought, a prophet saying that?!
So as I sat on my bed, it took me two straight hours, the time that ‘THE EVENT’ would have taken. Writing what was thinking and feeling; the Lord started reminding me that the earth and all that is in it are His, Its not that He had been unable to provide for the event, He owns all the silver and Gold in the world, 1000 cattle on the hill are His, He does not depend on the Bank of Baroda to supply my needs, but He will supply my needs according to His riches in Glory: These riches shall fall out of the gates of heaven, and they will be so much, any account I have will not be able to hold them!
He continued that He that started a good work in me, shall bring it to completion, I will not make it by my own power or might, but by His spirit, the physical me may be weak and not able to accomplish anything, but I can totally depend on Him, for he never fails. And then if the Bible tells me He never fails, and I have nicely asked Him for the launch, does it mean He has failed for the first time, NO; Just Like Pastor Burare said to me, In ITS time ; ‘In the arms of a stranger’ will be launched. its a blessed assurance that I am His and He is mine, He says to me even if I could forget my own adorable darling Damitta who is still breastfeeding, He will never forget me, I am the apple of his own eye, He will stand with me till the end of time, in my weaknesses, He will be made strong, Where I fail, He shall be exalted, When the enemy places a block on my way, He shall use it as my stepping stone,when the enemy raises the flood, He shall raise my standard (I love that!) He is a just Lord, A Lord of Mercy, always compassionate in love, He has walked this earth, and He knows what it means to be in the human coat, He knows temptations, He knows exhaustion, He knows stress, He is an expert in anger management, He knows distress, He knows its hard down here.
It doesnt matter how much we plan, but He is the only one that can perfect.
So I decided to wait, as I prayed more in expectation, for I know my Lord cometh and on this same blog, I shall testify of the goodness of the Lord!
Just as I was finishing writing, I had George Calling me up
“Sweetie” He called using his pet name for me
“Someone called Alex says he is listening to our testimony on truth FM”
“What?” I asked perplexed “Is this the 3rd or 4th time?” I wondered Aloud
I was amazed, truly amazed. Not because my voice was being heard again over the airwaves, but because it was a sign, my sign that God was in charge.
Like Job said to God in Job 42;1,
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
Something very special happened that same night; I was able to listen to myself for the first time, and reminded of how far He has brought me, if He was able to take me out of a life that I lived with no hope for a future, what about such a small thing as this, surely he had a better plan than mine! As I have continued receiving calls, mails and messages this week from people seeking help over various issues, and as I fervently continued seeking God about the event and more, I am now clear about one thing: we will not be launching any book, whatsoeverl; We will be launching a ministry; a ministry to RESTORE HOPE, by the grace of God!