James Mureithi, UPI Fellow, shares his story and his vision for UrbanPromise Kenya. James is currently a part of UPI's school of leadership and will be returning to Kenya in just a few months to launch his ministry. Inspiring words from an incredible leader! 

Who would have thought a boy in a small village in Kenya, walking barefoot to school, with an avocado or a piece of sugarcane for lunch, would one day step through the doors of Eastern University? Talking about myself now can be a bit embarrassing and may sound like blowing one's own trumpet. I can't help but believe that everything that has helped shape me is on this page. Poverty would not stop me. Neither would the lack of school fees or having nothing to eat. Not even domestic violence and abusive relationships were enough to stop me. I was determined to work hard to secure my place at a public university. I knew I could do it-going to college was all that I wanted and I believed in the brighter future that would come afterward.

At times, the temptation to quit and try my luck somewhere else was intense. The odds were against me. The scourge of a polygamist family was following me.

My call to ministry came at a turbulent time in my life. My mom had just run away from her troubled marriage as the third wife. I had just graduated with my first degree, and was hoping to get a job to support my mom and educate my sister. I hesitated at first to be a church minister since I was surrounded by many troubles, but after one year, God’s call was unequivocal. I accepted it and over time became an associate pastor in my local church in Kenya.

I have been involved with developing and managing a village youth group for about a decade now. Part of what my friends and I have focused on is helping orphaned children. One highlight has been our annual Christmas party. We provide snacks and play games, pray with them and offer each child school materials and Christmas gifts. The joy we see on their faces upon discovering that someone cares for them is indescribable. I want to see more of that joy and want to be able to do more as God helps transform my dream into reality. I want to create more opportunities for those children. They can be like any other children in other parts of the country and world.

Imagine going through elementary and high school without touching a computer keyboard.
That’s the challenge most aspiring scholars have to overcome in Embu, Kenya. I acquired my own laptop at age 32. Currently less than 21% of Africans have access to the internet. In a global economy, that puts children in Embu in danger of being left behind in a rapidly changing world. I want to change that by establishing a nonprofit - Youth Promise Kenya. Through a partnership with UrbanPromise International, I will launch a new affiliate site based on their youth ministry model. With a focus on digital literacy and information access, my vision is to transform the lives of children & youth in the community through education, information technology & spiritual growth.

I often draw inspiration from the Bible and James 1:27 states “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

I’ll be returning to Kenya in just a few months. I can't wait to be reunited with my wife in the near future and to continue serving alongside her. My eyes are open now. Now I see that the hardships I went through were God’s tools to prepare me for this future ministry, which I am now embracing wholeheartedly.
Whenever I remember my experience walking 4 miles every day to high school, it makes me want to support vulnerable kids so that they can access high school education. I believe in giving young people opportunities to become change agents in their families and communities.

When Jesus told children to come to him in Matthew 19:14, he knew they were needed for His kingdom. Today, what are we hoping for our kids? What are we doing for them? Whatever good thing we do comes back to us and to our generation many times over.