“Shine like stars in the universe.” Philippians 2:15

December 7, 2011 was a great day for two disciples in the Nairobi Christian Church after they were honored during the Kenya Footballer of the Year awards gala, an annual ceremony that recognizes the best performers in Kenyan soccer.
Gilbert Wandera was voted the best print journalist while Charles Okwemba was named runner-up in two prestigious categories, namely the overall footballer of the year (equivalent to MVP) and midfielder of the year.

Charles Okwemba

Charles Okwemba

Charles is captain of AFC Leopards, which is one of Kenya’s most historic, decorated and widely supported soccer teams. He guided his club to a fifth-place finish in the 2011 Kenyan Premier League season, and two weeks before the national awards ceremony had been named the midfielder-of-the-year by AFC, as the team is more popularly known.

Charles also helped AFC win the Peace Cup, which very much resonates with him as it was more than just a sporting contest but was part of an initiative to promote and raise the awareness of peace in Kenya in light of the post-2007 general election ethnic violence which led to bloodshed and displacement of many people across Kenya.

Given a glowing tribute during the award ceremony (right) for his contribution to AFC’s performance, Charles remained humble in his acceptance of the twin recognition and gave praise to God for enabling him make this achievement. “It is just God. It has been a great year where he has allowed me to do well on the field, and I remain grateful for his grace. I am inspired to do even better next season,” he said.

Charles had previously been with AFC, and re-joined them in July this year after six months at one of the league’s other teams, Rangers, whom he helped to finish at the top of the standings at the end of the first leg of the league.

For Charles, the abbreviation AFC may also stand for other things. He is All For Christ. He has used his profile to volunteer with HOPE worldwide Kenya and engage local youth in health talks.

Charles and his wife, Maureen, faced the painful setback of miscarriages several years ago and subsequent challenges in their goal to become parents. At one point during this period Charles had to join a team in the distant Middle Eastern country of Oman, thus living far away from Maureen, in order to make ends meet.

But as Charles held to his Avowed Faith in Christ, God opened the door for him to return to soccer in Kenya. God blessed Charles and Maureen with two boys (future AFC captains, perhaps?), and today he is the toast of Kenyan football.

We extend our Applause For Charles.

The words “By Gilbert Wandera” have graced many a high caliber sports story in the Kenyan press in 2011. For Gilbert, winning the award for best journalist was a pleasant surprise and a great gift from God after a brilliant year in which God allowed him to travel to various countries to cover different sporting events.

“Last year I was runner-up and I feel great that God elevated me to a higher level. This is a great encouragement and inspires me to do even better next year. It shows that you can be a great disciple and also do well in your profession,” he said.

Gilbert has not only used his talents at his work place but also writes regularly voluntarily for the East Africa church website.

Gilbert Wandera

Gilbert Wandera

Ironically Gilbert received his award (right) from the Kenya Assistant Minister for Sports, who while student leader at University of Nairobi years ago was reached out to by two of Gilberts uncles-in-law who are disciples.

The Print-Journalist-of-the Year award comes with a substantial cash reward, and Gilbert adds, “After having collected a considerable amount of money in the recent church fundraiser, I feel that God has repaid me for my faithfulness. It only shows that we can never out-give God.”

Interestingly in the line of the two brothers’ work, as each has taken a path to prominence, Gilbert has frequently interviewed and written about Charles in the national media.

As God has raised up Gilbert and Charles to celebrity before men, they have stood out for their humility before Him. In keeping with 1 Corinthians 12:26, when one part of the body celebrates, All the Family Congratulates. Well done, brothers.

CategoryKenya, Nairobi
  1. October 6, 2014


    • October 6, 2014

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