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Church is our second home

Kelvin Munyao started a church comprising his wife, Jackline Mukeria, his daughter and himself. Today, Jesus Celebrations Church, Thika, has grown in leaps and bounds. His wife shares about their struggles, challenges and many more 

Milliam Murigi @millymur1

How is it being a pastor’s wife?

Actually, when I married him, he was not a pastor. I have watched him transition from a sound technician, a praise and worship team leader to a pastor and I have supported him all the way. But Kelvin is my best friend and is always there for me. I’m proud to have a supportive, visionary and loving man by my side.

So, he was not a pastor when you met him…

We met in 2008. I was working at Mathaai Supermarket, Thika as a teller. He had relocated to Thika from Homa Bay after post-election violence. He was a sound technician at Redeemed Gospel Church, where his brother was a pastor.

One day I attended the lunch hour service and I spotted a new face, but I was not bothered. He followed me after the service and since he didn’t know my name and I was wearing a Nivea branded T-shirt, I heard someone calling me from behind, “Nivea”. We became friends and the rest is history. We dated for a year and here we are as a husband and a wife.

How did he establish his own church?

He had a calling to serve God, which he ignored for a while. But one day, our pastor told him to preach during the main service. The service turned out well, and this encouraged him to start a church. We left to start Breakthrough Tabernacles Ministries in 2013, which later rebranded to Jesus Celebration Centre (JCC).

How did you gain followers?

Kevin Munyao rose from being a sound technician, a praise and worship leader to a pastor. Photo/Matthew Ndung’u

For the first three weeks, the church comprised my husband, our daughter and I.

We rented a hall at Coconut Grill, Thika, where we attracted more believers.

But after five weeks, we were told to vacate. We rented another hall at Maxs Plaza, Thika. By then we had a congregation of 120 people.

While there, we spotted a place where we could have a semi-permanent church at Muiruri, Kabaru and after talking to the owners we were granted permission.

However, when moving only 50 people moved with us. But God is good, the church has grown in leaps and bounds over the past years and currently we have more than 1,000 members.

What are some of the struggles the family went through to make JCC be what it is now?

It has not been easy. There is a time we almost went without food, we couldn’t afford to hire a house manager and had to sweet talk the caretaker so as not to evict us. It reached a time when we contemplated leaving God’s work. But God is good, we didn’t.

Surprisingly, there is a day we received Sh100,000 and we invested it all in the church not because we were living a good life, but because God had directed us to do so.

Being a pastor’s wife comes with its fair share of challenges with people expecting you to have a perfect family? Tell us more.

Yes, it is not easy because church members and society have a lot of expectations from pastors. You are not supposed to make mistakes, your children should not misbehave—you are supposed to be a perfect example. You are supposed to put a happy face all the time, not be angry or upset.

But we are human, and therefore, can’t be perfect. The worst thing is that as a pastor’s wife, people expect me to accompany him wherever he goes, considering I’m a wife and a mother. My biggest fear as a pastor’s wife is to disappoint anyone.

 How do you support your husband’s commitment to pastoring?

 I am in charge of praise and worship team and I am the youth patron. Also, I lead Daughters of Favour docket, a meeting that attracts hundreds of women every month.

What boundaries have you established in order to protect your marriage and family life?

We understand without families there’s no church. So, we have to strive to build a strong family. We always spare some family time in the evenings and when we are not busy. Actually, when I have no meetings at church, I spend time with our three children.

What is the most memorable moment in your marriage?

During my 27th birthday. I was expectant and in the morning, he didn’t wish me a happy birthday. I was so mad and I decided to punish him by preparing his worst meal—ugali and vegetables. To my surprise, that evening he had organised a party for me!

What has been the best and worst part of your life together?

Becoming his wife was the best part. The worst was when he suggested we get baby number three. We had planned for two children. But we had a sitting and solved the issue.

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