GATHERING HELD ON THURSDAY 21ST JULY 2022 FROM 6-7PM EAST AFRICA TIME.
The Online Young Small Christian Community gathering was held on Thursday 21st July 2022 from 6-7 pm East Africa Time. It began with a word of prayer from the team from Pakistan led by one of the girls. Members had a brief introduction to familiarize themselves with our guest speaker for the day.
The session incorporated questions from members followed by a very rich sharing from Irene on her spiritual journey. Irene Kariuki is a born-again Christian living in Nairobi, Kenya. A fourth born in a family of 6, four brothers and a sister. She fellowships at a church called The Living Word Gospel Church. Her father is a Staunch Catholic while her mother became a Catholic by virtue of marriage. She was baptized while still young and given the name Irene. She attended catechesis classes and was enriched with the Catholic doctrines learning more about the Catholic faith enabled her to grow up being an obedient child yearning to learn more about God and follow His teachings.
Something striking that she recalls was when she was about to undertake her catechesis exams when the priest asked her the difference between the sacrament of Eucharist and ugali (corn flour meal- a staple food in Kenya) to test whether she was ready to be given the sacrament of Eucharist or not, and innocently since she didn’t know the difference she said, “Ugali is cooked but the Eucharist is baked by the religious sisters’ because that’s what she used to hear.” But after she told her mum the question she was asked the mum told her that’s not the case but it is because ugali is just food for the physical body while the Eucharist is food for the spiritual body.
Another question that the priest asked her was, “what if she gets to a place and she neglects the sacrament of the Eucharist what would happen? she told him that she never thought she would ever do that because she knew the only thing that can separate her from the sacrament of the Eucharist is maybe sin and staying from going for the sacrament of confession. She was certain that she wouldn’t neglect the sacrament of Eucharist.
She received the sacrament of confirmation while in high school and was named Adeline but after leaving the catholic church her friends were curious to know whether she would abandon her confirmation name, but the answer was no because she still holds the name very dearly to herself and it’s part of who she is.
She has been a staunch Catholic for the better part of her life for instance; in high school; she was a leader of the Catholic action group, a member of Young Catholic Students, a choir member, and a mass server. This laid a good foundation for her journey of faith. Later, she got admitted to Kenyatta University where she joined the acolyte group that assist the priest during mass in her first week, after some time she joined another group called guidance and counseling where she served as the parish representative for the group and St. Perpetual and Felicity Small Christian Community. These were moments when she was very active in the catholic church, learning a lot thus enabling her to discover herself better.
Now to the elephant in the room, the reason as to why she decided to leave the catholic church and joined another denomination was spearheaded by the transitions in her life. There are a lot of things that happened in her life that informed her decision since 2019 to 2021 but in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic when many people were living in isolation, she got an opportunity to meditate on her life and it’s during this time she made up her mind to shift from the Catholic Church to another denomination.
In 2018 she got an opportunity to become the vice Chairperson of the Kenyatta University Catholic Church, but she declined the position because she felt inadequate and had a premonition that a time will come when she would leave the church. She started feeling the thirst and an urge to get closer to God to the extent of going for confession within two weeks whenever she felt she had done something inadequate. She could attend daily masses that gave her an opportunity to meditate especially after receiving the Holy Eucharist because that’s the only time she could speak to God but that time wasn’t adequate. Remaining behind after the final blessing was still an option but she couldn’t take long because her friends were awaiting her outside.
The environment in the church was so tranquil but the time she could spend there was minimal. She loves praising and worshipping and she missed such moments because even attending the Small Christian Community meetings, time was really minimal for such activities. She was thirsty for the word of God, and she felt like the time scheduled for bible reading and reflection could not allow her to preach which is something she felt she was capable of doing bearing in mind that she could visualize herself being a pastor at some point.
In her earlier life, she discerned to be a religious sister but in 2020 losing her aunt, a nun, who journeyed with her in shaping her spiritual life really made her question if that’s what she wanted, and later she decided not to. It got to a point when she could prefer to attend Christian Union fellowship for protestants rather than attending holy mass due to their attractive nature that enabled her to praise, worship, and listen to the word of God making her feel fulfilled. She also got a platform to preach and a space to proclaim her faith. She ascertained that her decision to change denomination was independent and it came after discernment and seeking inside and outside help.
Her presentation answered the question that the members had and the curiosity to understand how someone may wake up and decide to change denomination. It was an encouraging moment for the members and what stood out was the essence of learning the catholic doctrines, the power to yearn for an understanding of the scriptures, and the essence of accompaniment in our lives.
The gathering ended with a word of prayer from the Pakistanian team
Our next session will be on 4th August, 2022.