Written by A. Valentine Lamar and Marion Mithamo

The Nairobi Christian church held its 15th edition of the annual Women’s Day on Sunday October 30. For the first time it was held at the new church sanctuary with the theme, “Completely Loved!”
dsc00788 dsc00948A couple of weeks earlier, Lily Musonye, one of the Women Ministry leaders had stood before the entire church with a special announcement’ All of us as women, have a void within us…a void that only God can fill completely… This year, our theme for the women’s day is ‘’Completely Loved; we will learn about this love… ’.
In her words lay a promise of an experience like no other-the feeling of being completely loved by God, a promise that if you were there, on that material day, would know it was fully kept.
The aura of anticipation and pageantry that usually surrounds the women’s day was both unmistakable and uncommon on this day. The mood and atmosphere were electric with excitement.
The splendid parade of women resplendent in fashionable dresses depicting how special the Women’s day was in their lives was a beautiful sight to behold. They were not only clad in their best outfits, but also dressed with open hearts ready to receive and experience the deep unconditional love of God.
Special and Unique
Jane Kilaha the Womens leader for Kenya and the wider International Churches of Christ East Africa delivered the key message home with a short yet very convicting class on the theme ‘Completely Loved’. She shared deeply from her life, as well as from the Bible. (Genesis 1:31).  In her insightful, inspirational, and challenging sermon, she acknowledged the topic of love as widely misunderstood the world over, but whose delicate nuances easily provided fodder for the media and entertainment industries. “Many of our TV and radio programs, movies, music and books all seem to talk about love.” She stressed that because humans possess an inherent need for love, it is important “not to seek real love from the wrong places but from God alone.” Speaking from Scripture and personal experience, Jane helped the congregation to understand that we all are special and unique in the sight of God, who created our inmost being and fashioned us in our mothers’ wombs in order that we might be equipped to accomplish the plan He set out for us even before birth (Psalm 139:13-16).  She added, “because God is love (1 John 4:8), it is essentially his nature to do us good even in the midst of challenges.” She reassured her eager listeners that they can all find security in God who promises to be with us in our sorrows and afflictions (Isaiah 43:1-4).  “God wants us to remain faithful and be devoted wholeheartedly to him, so if you want to be completely loved, go to the Creator!” she concluded.
Experiencing God’s Love in Adversity
The three speakers Sonia Rees, Irene Mwangangi, Janet Akolo provided ample examples from their lives of how God really loves us in the midst of adversity and the sharing from the depths of their hearts moved their audience to the core as they nodded while a few had to shed a tear. It was an emotional yet refreshing experience, getting to hear how God has used difficult and unusual circumstances to manifest His love in these women’s lives.
Sonia Kichoncho Rees, a member of the church in Kampala Uganda, witnessed the murder of her father in their home at the age of 16, was kidnapped at gunpoint at 18, and lost her husband to pancreatic cancer before age 30. However, when all appeared to be lost she took comfort from God’s word in Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised… I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”
“When I met my husband, I was so excited and was looking forward to a wonderful future with him. His death thus elicited many angry questions at God about why He was allowing all the male figures in my life to die. Feeling hopeless, I too wanted to die,” Sonia shared. She spoke about how God in his love brought forth many friends to comfort and encourage her to persevere in adversity and is deeply grateful to the church for showing her tremendous support. Now four years after the death of her husband, Sonia leads the singles’ ministry in the church and her job allows her ample time to raise her two young sons as well as build robust relationships at church. “I can walk around with my head held high because God loves me!” she said with a gleam in her eyes.
Irene Mwangangi stated, “When I got pregnant the second time, I was happiest. Later I gave birth to a baby boy and named him Kaylan.  Kaylan, however, was born with Down’s Syndrome (DS) much to my disappointment.”  DS is a condition in which extra genetic material causes delays a child’s development, both mentally and physically.  The medical issues associated with DS can vary widely from child to child, and some children need a lot of medical attention to treat congenital heart defects, respiratory problems and other ailments.dsc00882 dsc00917
Irene shared about Kaylan’s bladder issues and operations which began when he was 4 days old. She became embarrassed, confused and angry at God, and wondered if Kaylan’s condition was her fault. “Society stigmatized me and my child, but God gave me the best nanny, who even moved into my home to help care for the child,” she said. While reading from Isaiah 49:14, 15 to illustrate God’s unfailing love, Irene pointed out that her duty as a mother was to love Kaylan for who he is.  She challenged her listeners to show love to all children and refrain from stigmatizing special-needs children.
Janet Akolo, too, has experienced God’s compassion in the midst of her grief.  She drew parallels with the Apostle Paul who God gave a thorn in his flesh and on three occasions even pleaded with the Lord to take it away, but God said no, and instead, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Janet, who has been a Christian for two-and-a-half years, suffers from two types of anxiety disorders – Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) for which she takes medication and practices behavioral therapy for reprieve. She shared about her fainting episodes and other pains of living with the mental disorders. She conceded that God brought grief into her life for her good and has not abandoned her to bear the thorn in her flesh alone. “My husband has been supportive of me, even my 4 year old daughter understands enough to care. I greatly appreciate the encouragement of disciples and neighbors.  George and Ann Irungu at the time of the diagnosis two years ago were very supportive and they have continued to be there for us.” Janet declared, “I thank God for everything that has happened to me because I’m experiencing his complete love!”
Anyima Okundi and Alice Gitonga, the event’s MCs, oversaw the observance and enjoyment of lively performances and beautiful compositions of song, dance, poetry and drama which interspersed the classes. The choir kept everyone alert with their mellow voices and at some point a bit of comic zest to their presentations.  Two teens made a special presentation with a song about friendship, and it was truly inspiring to see how God draws people to Himself at all stages of life.
It was a day with a difference
As the day drew close to an end, the heavens crowned the women’s day with torrents of rain. But even as the hall thundered with the sound of rain, you could tell that the hearts of the ladies in the hall were not plundered from the talk ‘A healthy lifestyle’ by Margaret Onyaga. The rain settled down in good time, for everyone to get their serving of well-done food by the caterers.
The 2011 Women’s Day was indeed special and different. It was for the very first time held at the Umoja church grounds. Prior to this, the women’s day has been held at different venues hired for the purpose. This year the women’s calendar brought together women and ladies from various ministries within the church, as compared to previous years where the norm has been to hold it differently. It was a highlight of the women’s ministry and a consummate culmination of months of much prayer and preparation

In the end, the 2011 Women’s Day was a special day full of impacting lessons, mirth, entertainment and food. One could not help but admire and appreciate the organization that had gone into making the whole event a reality. The participants went home inspired, challenged and refreshed. Pauline Muniu, one of the visitors in attendance expressed later that she was truly impacted by the events of the day, and was looking forward to many such days in the future. One middle aged woman said the event was inspiring and regretted having not invited her many nieces back in the village “who don’t really go to church.” Another said, “It was fantastic and I learned a lot. I came in feeling discouraged by personal problems, but I leave encouraged by the knowledge of God’s love and challenged to view problems positively.” “I didn’t know about God’s unconditional love and got challenged to seek him personally,” shared a college student attending the Women’s Day event for the first time.
Judy Monda in conclusion asserted that it was an answered prayer; and surely with 1,406 adults in attendance this sentiment was worth putting down. God expressed His love to His daughters on the 2011 women’s day.

CategoryKenya, Nairobi
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