When the typical American wakes up at 3 AM with a sense of impending peril, more often than not it is related to an evening of overindulgence the night before. When Miriam Mutinda awoke early one January morning in 2008 in the tiny town of Kericho in western Kenya, it was something entirely different. A few weeks earlier, incumbent Mwai Kibaki had been declared the winner of Kenya’s presidential elections. Supporters of Kibaki’s opponent, Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement, alleged electoral manipulation, which was widely confirmed by international observers. This set off a wave of intense tribal violence across Kenya, particularly in the Rift Valley where Kericho sits. Deep seated tribal prejudices have kept the valley in turmoil for years.
Miriam is a member of the Kikuya tribe, which also happens to be the tribe of President Kibaki. Her husband Amos is a Kalenjin, the predominant tribe in Kericho. For years, members of the Kikuya tribe would migrate to the Rift Valley to work on one of the enormous tea plantations that cover the hillsides outside Kericho, often displacing
local workers. It was with this backdrop that Miriam had moved to Kericho as a young single woman in 1999 to minister to the Kalenjin, Luo and Luyha people. She endured many hungry, cold nights curled up on a blanket on the floor of her spartan hut. But she knew God had called her to Kericho and as she persevered, He blessed her efforts. Little by little she began to receive invitations from schools and churches and soon she caused people to forget that she was a single Kikuya woman in a Kalenjin town.
In March of 2000 a man named Ben Bahati and his wife Mary held a rally in the town. Ben is the founder of Global Field Evangelism and would become a very important figure in Miriam’s life. Ben and Mary met with Miriam and encouraged her in her work. Over the next few years as Miriam worked to expand her ministry, she faced all manner of demonic attacks. Several times through those years she would spend an entire night praying in her hut as she heard threatening footsteps outside. She would silently plead the blood of Jesus until the unseen forces left. It is not for no reason that Africa is known as the Dark Continent.
As Miriam was working in Kericho, God was preparing a young man named Amos to be her partner in ministry. Amos had his own difficult past and that included homelessness, wrongful imprisonment and demonic oppression. God had radically saved him in 1992 and he had been steadily preaching, teaching and making disciples while enduring some of the same hardships. God brought Amos and Miriam’s paths together in 2002 and after a couple of years of courtship they were married in 2005. In 2006, under the authority of Global Field Evangelism and Ben Bahati, aka Bishop Ben, they started a church in Kericho. In the two years before the election violence, Amos and Miriam’s church began to grow and thrive.
The night the election results were announced, the spirit of tribalism rose and the Kalenjin community in Kericho began seeking out Kikuya. Shouts of ‘the only good Kikuya is a dead Kikuya’ rang out as crowds gathered. Amos and Miriam now had a 1 year old son named Larry and they realized how dangerous their situation was. They reached out to Bishop Ben and his US based partner, Mike Curry of Light Ministries. Ben and Mike provided emergency funds to provide safe lodging in Nairobi, but they had to get there on their own. After 5 days of hiding in a hotel on the outskirts of town, Miriam awoke with what she now says was a warning from God to escape as quickly as possible. Through a series of events that could only be described as orchestrated by the Father, Amos and Miriam escaped, with Miriam and Larry hiding in the back of a UN transport truck. As they approached the different towns, Amos and Miriam would switch places depending on which tribe was in control.
Today Amos and Miriam are safe and have started a church in the Kasarani neighborhood of Nairobi. Larry is growing strong and loves to play football(soccer). He has a new little sister named Susan who was born in June of 2011.
Miriam has started a chicken business to supplement the support they receive from Light Ministries. They are but one of the over 30 pastors and their wives that have started their ministry under Ben Bahati and Global Field Evangelism. Each of those 30 pastors has an equally compelling
story. Light Ministries, founded by Mike Curry, raises funds to provide funding for all 30 pastors as well as for 4 feeding stations and 3 orphanages. After over thirty years of family focused ministry in the U.S., Mike has become a “missionary-at-large” partnering with indigenous ministries around the world. In future posts you will find out how we got involved with Mike’s ministry and were given the opportunity to meet this incredible couple.