By Timothy Machuka
It was a sad moment for the Malaba Church of Christ and the entire North Rift Churches in Kenya as they gathered in the little town of Ukwala in Ugenya Constituency, Siaya County on the 21st of September to bade farewell to a brother who had dedicated his life to Christ, and in the process founded the Malaba Church of Christ.
Born in Siaya District in 1964, William Odhiambo Otieno’s childhood was a clear indication that he was determined to break through any limitations thrown his way. During his early years he had a health condition that led to the frequent breaking of his limbs. This happened on numerous occasions and not only kept him out of school but also substantially contributed to his reduced height.
William took this in stride and remained open-minded. His hope could never be deterred.
He moved to Nairobi like any other young man in search of greener pastures and with unyielding determination, he fought for his place in a busy city to earn a living as a cobbler. During this time, he was reached out to through public preaching. One fine day in 1992, at the end of the preaching, Oscar Ondatto announced that those who wanted to study the Bible some more were welcome to stay on. William was the only one who remained standing. He got baptized a few days later and grew to become a great leader in the Kariobangi-Baba Dogo ministry.
In 1998 William opted to try out life away from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi. He had set his heart on Uganda. He alighted at Malaba border for a stretch, during which he met a gentleman who had previously been a member of the church. His missionary instincts kicked in and he quickly chose to cut his journey to Uganda short and stay in Malaba which is one of the border posts between Kenya and Uganda. Moved by how marvelous it would be moving hearts to Christ in Malaba, the two agreed to start holding bible talks. As a result of William’s welcoming nature and his determination to live as a disciple, even when he was on his own he came to be known to many at Malaba border as pastor. He studied the Bible with and baptized some disciples and held on to the faith until he succumbed to death due to heart and liver complications on 6th September 2019, leaving behind three children Mike 17, Brigit 15, and Judith 12. He also leaves behind a church made up of three sisters and one brother.
“The late William’s optimism, determination, and love for God and others stand out in the 55 years that God graciously gave him. He showed this in the way he battled illness till the last minute, not giving up, said Edwin Mahiga – leader of Eldoret Church of Christ that oversees the North Rift churches made up of Eldoret, Bungoma and Malaba Church of Christ.
William will be missed by his family, friends, the Malaba Church and the entire east Africa churches of Christ at large. All who speak of William at his funeral wax lyrical of how heavenly golden his heart was.
Revelation 14:13: And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labours, for their deeds follow them!”