Kenya’s Second-Largest Newspaper Interviews John Njoroge on His Powerful Story
Posted by J.M. Njoroge on March 16, 2017
RZIM Africa’s John Njoroge was recently interviewed by The Standard Newspaper–Kenya’s second-largest newspaper–on his remarkable story and the strangers who would shape his life. According to the paper, The Standard’s main readership is a younger audience, making up more than 60% of the readers. Read the article below or click here to read the original article published March 14 by Jacqueline Mahugu:
The Angels of Mercy:
How John Njoroge’s Life was Turned Around by Strangers
“He leans back in his seat and draws his legs out. He is a picture of sophisticated elegance as he trains his eyes on me. There is a discernible humility in his mannerism, in the polite way he answers my queries and humours my relentless prodding.
45-year-old John Njoroge is a learned man, with three Master’s degrees to his name and currently pursuing a PhD from USA’s University of Georgia.
He has lived in America for 24 years and has just moved back permanently to Kenya with his wife and two children. We are seated in his orphanage, a home to 29 children. In between our conversation, he indulges the little children who wander off in our direction in easy chitchat.
John is also an acclaimed Christian apologist and after attending a live session, I got the sense that it matters not if he is speaking to one or 10,000 people, he speaks with an unmistakable fervour – soft-spoken yet firm, leaving the audience intrigued by the wisdom that resides in his mind and the clarity with which he speaks.
John Njoroge speaks at The Saturday PM, a Christian church in Nairobi, Kenya.
Looking at him now, you can hardly believe that many years ago, he was languishing in poverty, doing all he could to survive –to help out his mother and siblings. He has definitely come a long way. And this, he credits to Roy and Judy Entwistle, a missionary couple that took him from the trenches and helped him be the man he is now.
“I was born in Gilgil, the third of eight children. When I was born my mum and dad were doing really well. We were a very happy family,” begins John.
Things however took a dark turn when his father started drinking heavily and sleeping around.
“My mother bundled all of us back to Molo to my grand mum’s place but she eventually worked things out with dad. When we went back to his house, I found that instead of the person that I had grown to love as a child, he had turned into an angry, insatiable tyrant; a time bomb that would explode any minute without warning,” he says.
His father had become very violent not only towards John’s mother and the children, and for an inexplicable reason, especially to John. Eventually their father left, and his mother did all she could to take care of her sons. Unfortunately, her health was failing.
The first time John met Judy, he was a famished 13-year-old boy, hoping to get some food for himself and his seven siblings, one of whom is mentally handicapped. Their mother had been hospitalised and their dad had long abandoned the family. They hadn’t had a meal in three days. This was what prompted the little boy to go out in search of sustenance for his siblings.
“I knocked on the door of the first house I saw not knowing who lived there. When Judy opened the door I was overcome by despair and broke down.”
Filled with compassion, Judy wiped his tears, took his hand and invited him in. She led him to her kitchen table and gave him some tea and biscuits. She then told him stories about herself and about America where she was from, to get him to calm down.
“Now, what did you want to tell me?” she asked him when he had stopped sobbing. Roy, Judy’s husband had joined them.
In a phone conversation, Roy, now back in the States explains what the hunger-stricken little boy had said to them.
“He explained that his mother was in the hospital, that he had no father and he was alone at home with his brothers and sisters. He was in charge and they had nothing to eat,” says Roy.
He asked them for a job but requested them to pay him first with the promise that he would be back to work for them until he had paid back all the money.
Really moved, Judy went to her refrigerator and put everything edible in a bag, gave him some money and told him that he did not have to pay him back and to keep coming back until his mother was out of the hospital.
“I went with him to see where he was living,” says Roy. “To my surprise, he lived just about 300 yards from us, in a little hut just next to the railroad tracks. There was one single bed for the whole family of five children, and it was the cold season in Kijabe; very damp and very cold.
John Njoroge and his family.
The hut had places where air could come through. There were only two blankets. We immediately got them food and blankets and tried to take care of them as quickly as we could.”
At the time, Roy Entwistle was the principal at Rift Valley Academy. The school and the African Inland Church in Kijabe set up a three-roomed house for the family. “Staying in a real house with electricity was a miracle!” says John.
His mother eventually left the hospital and got a job working in the kitchen at Kijabe hospital. The Entwistles also hired someone to take care of the mentally challenged child, a duty they took on until she passed away in September 2001.
The Entwistles maintained close contact with the family through the years. John was now back in school and when the KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education) results came out, John tied with another student at the top position in Kijabe Primary School, with 68 out of 72 points.
Another missionary couple from the UK paid for his high school education in Kyome Secondary School in Kitui. After high school, John went to Kibera to work with street children for one year.
Happy and grateful for the role the Entwistles had played in his family’s well-being, John would often visit them. One day, seated at the same kitchen table they had used many years before when he first knocked on their door, Roy passed him a stack of papers to sign.
“He said that he was trying to get me to go to school in America. It is hard to describe the feeling I had then. If he had said to me that he wanted to find me a better place to work in Nairobi, that would have been enough for me. America was not something people of my background would dare dream of,” he says.
He got the fully paid scholarship to study pre-med at Saint Lawrence University in New York, USA. There was an interim period in which John attended the Philadelphia College of Bible (now Cairn University) in Pennsylvania, intending to stay for one semester as he waited to start his degree in medicine.
He however realised that he was more passionate about ministry and decided to stay on a work-study scholarship instead. He asked the University of St. Lawrence to give the scholarship to another deserving candidate.
“So he gave up his all-expenses paid, four-year scholarship at St Lawrence University, which at the time was worth over US$ 100, 000,” says Roy. Roy gave his full blessing when John explained his decision.
John would eventually stay in America for 24 years, working in Christian Apologetics. The work entailed defending the Christian faith to sceptics and people of other religions, which he has done all over the world as a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.
He and his wife moved back to Kenya in 2016 to focus on ministry here and also to run their orphanage, Valley Light Home, in Maai Mahiu, which they founded in 2009. John’s siblings are all doing well too, a feat that John credits to the Entwistles’ compassionate nature.
“Unfortunately, mum passed away in 2012 at 62 years. She lived in America for a year before insisting on coming back home because she didn’t like that she couldn’t rear chickens or talk to the neighbours.” He explains with a smile.
The Entwistles are now in their 80s and moved back to the US in 1998. Today, they are full of praise for John.
They however do not take credit for the way John’s life turned out and say that if they had not been there back then, God would have simply used someone else. But they are blessed to have been chosen.
“I look up to him and highly respect him but mainly, all I have is love for him. My wife and I spent 36 years in Kenya and we can say that if we did nothing else but help John, it was worth it,” says Roy.
Roy and Judy Entwistle, the strangers who helped the young boy whose future looked bleak can hardly believe how well things turned out. “He is wonderful. He is a giant ahead of me in so many ways. That man is so humble and so brilliant at the same time, it’s truly amazing,” says Roy. “If you ever get the chance to go hear him at one of his seminars, go hear him. He is highly respected wherever he goes.”