Reverend Joseph Kamau Mwangi is a vicar with the Anglican Church of Kenya in Thika Diocese. Born 38 years ago in Gathaithi in Murang’a County, Rev Mwangi joined ACK as an evangelist in 1993, soon after completing his secondary school education. He pursued a diploma course in 1996 and was ordained pastor in 2000. His unquenchable thirst for education saw him enrol for a degree course in Theology at St. Paul’s University in Limuru. He is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Leadership at the Pan African Christian University (PACU) in Nairobi. Mwangi has been married to Freshiah Wanjiku for 15 years and they have three children – Joy Mwangi who is in standard eight, Glory Mwangi in standard six, and Baraka Ng’ang’a in nursery school.
ENJOYING QUIET TIME…
On Thursday, October 13, 2011, Rev Mwangi honoured an invitation to Kabare Theological College in Kirinyaga County to facilitate a three-day programme dubbed Quiet Time (QT).
“We had a very refreshing moment in the presence of God. However, I had to leave on Saturday morning for Kanjuku High School in Thika County to lead Form four examination candidates in prayers for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams, which were due to start in a week.
“We had an intense session of prayer, worship and thanksgiving with the students. As I bid the principal farewell, some Form three students approached me with a request to lead them in prayers the following year. I thought it was far-fetched but nonetheless I could not say no but promised them I will if God preserved my life up to that time,” he recalls.
A DREADFUL ENCOUNTER…
Mwangi left the school for Murang’a to attend his sister’s dowry negotiations scheduled for that afternoon. They had a good ceremony and at 6pm, he left with his family and a neighbour for home. Little did he know what lay ahead, as he narrates in his own words.
“We arrived in Thika town at 8pm. My church treasurer called me seeking my assistance to help solve a dispute between a couple. I dropped my family at home in Ruiru and left immediately to the treasurer’s house. To get to the treasurer’s home, I had to drive on an estate road before joining the Thika Super highway.
While driving through the estate, I saw two cars ahead of me with their doors wide open. They had blocked the way and I thought they were people who knew each other and had stopped to talk. I hooted and flashed my car lights at them to give way. In an instant, six armed gangsters crowded my vehicle and I lifted my hands up in surrender.
In the nick of time, one of them got into the vehicle and ransacked my pockets. He took my wallet, which had Ksh10000, my phone and anything else deemed important. He then took control of the vehicle and commanded the rest of the gang into the car. One of them ordered me to get into the boot of my car, while hitting me with a pistol on the head. I started bleeding. I obeyed and hurdled myself in the boot.
The new driver sped off to Thika Highway and headed to Kasarani, Nairobi.
They made a stop over to fuel the car, and drove towards Lumumba Road. One gangster took my documents from my wallet and threw them at me in the boot. While at it, he saw my bank ATM card and asked for my Personal Identification Number (PIN).
I told them that I could not remember the PIN number as I had taken the card only a few days ago and they threatened to shoot me. Acting on impulse, I asked them if they could allow me to call my wife to ask for the PIN number.
They dialled her number, put the phone on loudspeaker and gave it to me. However, her phone had been switched off. Disappointed, they asked if I had money in my Mpesa account. They demanded that I transfer the Ksh22, 000
in my Mpesa to another number, which I did. They ordered me to call my relatives and ask them to send Kshs100, 000 or they would kill me. I assured them that I would get the money within no time. The gangsters would ask for a number, dial it and then put the phone on loudspeaker before giving me instructions on what to say.
I called my church treasurer, stating that I had hit a motorbike owner injuring him seriously and the police officers were demanding for Kshs 50,000 or I risked spending the night in a police cell. I lied as instructed. Shocked, the treasurer asked, ‘Pastor, where can we get that kind of money at this hour?’ He had Kshs 500 in his Mpesa account, which he sent and promised to look for the rest.
Being at the mercy of the gangsters, I asked if I could try my luck on someone else. They dialled my neighbour’s number repeated the same lie only this time I said I had hit a Pajero. My neighbour wondered how I expected him to get Ksh100, 000 at night. He however said that he would try his best.
After soul searching, my neighbour decided to call the church treasurer, whom he knew, to request for the money.
As he was explaining to him, the treasurer told him that I had called him too, but I had told him that I had hit a motorbike and not a pajero. This contradicting information opened their eyes to the fact that I was somewhere in deep trouble. They alerted as many people as they could and told them to pray for me earnestly. They also informed the police.
Meanwhile, the gangsters kept driving and I could not tell where we were going. I called the treasurer to check on the progress after consulting with them. ‘I have the money, where are you?’ the treasurer asked. I told him I had consulted with the ‘police’ and we agreed to meet at Ruiru. The gangsters were very happy with my efficiency. One of them wiped the blood off my head, and another moved to the car boot and I was allowed to sit on the back seat.
When we got near Ruiru I called the treasurer but his phone was off. The gangsters were furious and threatened to kill me. I later learnt that he had been recording a statement at the police station and he had been told to switch off his phone as he was being distracted by many calls from our church members. The gangsters
were infuriated by his unavailability on phone. To prove my innocence I called his wife who told me that he had left the house a while ago for Ruiru. They relaxed on hearing that.
As we drove towards Ruiru, we saw a car following us at a safe distance but the gangsters did not care much about it. The car had some members of our church. They had informed the police who had gone ahead in a Land Rover. In the meantime, the gangsters teased me, ‘Pastor, we have no problem with you. In your preaching,
you say that Jesus will come like a thief. When He was crucified at the cross, we were with Him and He will also come back like us (thieves). We love God and we are in this job because of poverty. We do not enjoy life in crime but there are no decent jobs. Always remember us in prayer – pray for us to get better jobs. This job is very risky.’ I promised to pray for them.
A CLOSE SHAVE…
We passed the police Land Rover confidently. They did not question or seem afraid of the police. The car with
the church members stopped near the policemen and alerted them that the gangsters were in our car. The policemen followed us in hot pursuit. They started shooting at us. Realising the looming danger, the gangsters started shooting back while the driver sped off at a dangerous speed.
I raised a prayer loudly, ‘Oh God preserve us all. I have been with these armed men since 8.30pm and they have
not harmed me, please spare us God.’ I prayed loudly so that they could hear that I cared about their safety. It was around 2.30 am and we were at Clay Works on the Thika Highway. The shoot out intensified. The police shot and injured the driver and the rest managed to open the car doors and ran for their lives. The officers did not pursue them as it was very dark and they were armed.
The injured driver who was bleeding profusely continued driving dangerously towards Membley Estate in Ruiru with the police in hot pursuit. Exhausted from the bleeding, he stopped the car, opened the door in surrender saying, “The pastor is safe.” The police continued shooting.
I was scared stiff. When all fire died, the carjacker lay dead.I still don’t know how I survived all those bullets. One hit close to the door where I was and ricocheted. I believe it is the power of prayer that prevented any bullet from hitting me. The policemen lifted me out of the car. One of them hugged me saying, ‘Your God is the true God.’ They were amazed at God’s deliverance in my life. I later recorded a statement at the police station at around 3.30am. I am still amazed at the love of God and all the people who said a prayer for me including my Bishop,” Mwangi concludes his frightening experience.