201202-it-happenedMary Kimani, a born-again Christian in her thirties, has been to hell and back. Born to Pastor Peter and Esther Kimani of Dominion Assembly International, Nyahururu, Mary’s life has had its highs and lows as is common to all human beings. However, it’s the recurring thoughts of the bad and ugly days that brought her feelings of hopelessness, triggering suicidal thoughts that continue to torment her. Her dreadful experiences, ranging from bouts of ill health, to being attacked by gangsters and going through not-so-pleasant spiritual experiences, almost tore her soul to the core. Mary, a cosmetologist at Josey Hair Care based at the Re-Insurance plaza, shares her poignant story in her own words with FAITH MATHENGE-MURIGU, clearly stating that she is no longer a victim of circumstances but a victor.

“I was born in Kiambu County but while still young, my family relocated to Kinangop in Nyandarua County. My life and that of my five siblings took off on a very challenging note as we tried to adjust to our new lives. However, with time, I made friends and soon embarked on adventures in the beautiful Nyandarua countryside. One day, we went to fetch firewood with my new neighbours. It was a fun-filled escapade as we played along the way and enjoyed each other’s company, but on our way back home, I felt dizzy and fainted. Little did I know that this was the genesis of my struggle with ill health. I had recurrent fainting spells, which prompted my parents to take me to the Aga Khan hospital in Nairobi for check ups.

I was put on medication, which I took for close to a decade. I went through Electroencephalographic (EEG) tests as recommended by the doctors, but they could not trace any problem. My classmates often ridiculed me because of the many fainting spells I experienced and this took a toll on my confidence. I was frustrated, my soul was tormented and I wished for death. At around my tenth birthday, the fainting spells ceased but I was still on medication until I turned 13.

I was a happy girl when I joined high school. Although I never got sick while in school, the belief that the fainting spells would recur held my thoughts hostage. I sank into depression. The upswings and downswings of this depression made me lose hope in life and I was driven to the edge of contemplating suicide. I was frustrated with life and one Friday evening, I wrote a note to my best friend stating how hopeless my life had become and the fact that no one could help me out. I had tablets in the dormitory, which I planned to take to fulfil my mission.

It is often said that God works in miraculous ways and that His thoughts are always good towards us, as stated in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to give you a hope and a future.” His good plan over my life was evident that evening when my soul was really trouble. There was a Christian Union Weekend Challenge meeting, taking place in our school’s main hall. I felt a persuasion to go there and instead of going to the dormitory and committing suicide as I had planned, I walked into the hall where a life transforming experience happened to me. I re-dedicated my life to God. An unexplainable peace and joy filled my heart from that moment.

After high school, I proceeded to college where I studied a full secretarial course and computer packages. My life was moving in the right direction and I was glad. After college, I got a job with Kenya Shell Limited as a data entry clerk, while pursuing a course in cosmetology in the evenings – a career I was passionate about. I was happy with the progress and even thought of going abroad to seek greener pastures.

A friend who lived in the US sent me on-line documents of requirements for applying to schools in the US and also getting a travel visa. I planned to download the documents the following day. That particular day, I woke up unusually early and went to the city centre. I downloaded the documents and headed to work. It was a rather splendid day; another of my dreams was almost coming true.

Our offices were in Ruaraka on Thika Road. I left work at around 9pm with my colleagues. When we got to the road, they took a different route as they were going to the shop to buy snacks for supper. While crossing the road at the exit of a petrol station, three men emerged from nowhere and attacked me. Apparently they were hiding in a nearby trench. One snatched my bag while the other two started pulling me towards a nearby bushy area, but I struggled to free myself and even attempted to scream. When they sensed danger, one of them stabbed me on the head with a knife. Realising he intended to kill me, I feigned unconsciousness. In the melee that ensued, his knife fell. I scampered for safety, screaming as loudly as I could. I was bleeding profusely although I did not experience pain.

My workmates who had not gone far noticed the commotion and came over. Some guards manning the Kenya School of Monetary Studies College also came to my rescue and they managed to arrest one of the attackers and took him to Muthaiga Police Station. My colleagues expressed their concern that I had been hurt and needed to go to hospital without delay. I was taken to Guru Nanak hospital in Ngara, Nairobi.

On arrival, I had an x-ray to determine the depth of the cut. My very long and beautiful hair, the crowning glory of a woman, as the Bible says, had to be shaved to give room for stitching of the wound. I was treated and discharged. The recovery process was long and painful. That ordeal lingered in my mind for a long time and it birthed fear within me. I developed a phobia of walking alone. The young men who attacked me were later arrested although I chose to forgive and forget about the incidence, reasoning that they were being used by the devil to harm me. I did not go to court to testify against them and they were set free after sometime.

When I got well, I resumed work and was determined to make up for lost time. To my horror, my attackers started stalking me. It was evident they were on a revenge mission because of what they underwent in the hands of the police. I also learnt that the man who had stabbed me was a serial rapist who lured and molested unsuspecting schoolgirls. To add salt to injury, his gang members were drug addicts.

Despite all these tribulations, my star was still rising and I landed another job at a somewhat controversial Asian-owned company with poor working conditions and pay. I worked for several months without pay and with constant terrible verbal abuse from my employer. It was a risky job and I quit months later without collecting my dues. Without a job, I lost many of my friends and depression set in. But thank God, I got another job with a newspaper publication firm as an administrative secretary, although it was short-lived because there was no pay and when it came, it was very little. I quit the job.

With all those experiences, I needed spiritual uplifting and decided to go to Jubilee Christian Centre, Nairobi for an evening service where a visiting pastor, Albert Odulele from London, was set to minister. Through a word of knowledge, the guest minister made an altar call describing ‘someone’ whose experiences I thought were so similar to mine. When no one took to the podium, I felt a conviction that he was referring to me. I moved to where he was and he spelled my specific conditions and cancelled the decrees of death that had been declared over my life by people I did not know. After prayer, the depression was lifted and I felt at peace like a dove.

To my astonishment, when I left the service, I found a close friend outside the sanctuary. She quarrelled me for having answered the altar call. She asked me why I did not consult her first. This was weird and I told her boldly that I was the one who had been suffering. She never called me after that and I have never seen her again.

A few months after that encounter, I opened a salon, Josey Hair Care that I have been operating since and it is rewarding. Through the study of God’s word, I have been able to drop the victim mentality and develop a victor’s mindset. My resolution to live life and trust God at all times has not been a walk in the park as I have had to deal with two other incidences of attack by gangsters.

One occurred during an overnight worship service (kesha) when thieves attacked us at gunpoint before the service began and stole our phones, money and other valuables. They also stole from the church. The other incidence was more recent and it happened in a matatu, as I was going home from work. All the passengers were taken hostage and our valuables stolen at gunpoint.

In spite of all I have gone through, I am more focused, more confident and with a winner’s attitude. I have learnt to trust God more each day. I have shared my testimony in a book titled ‘Slave To The Dark World’, which talks more about my spiritual battles with an intention to reach out to others and show them that there is hope in God. I believe that it is never over until God says so!

The book is available at Wakestar, Scripture Union and Wells bookshops and at Nakumatt Lifestyle. You can reach Mary Kimani on 0720-679696

Published in February 2012