A Brutal Life Transformed by Jesus
“Jesus Christ has changed me.” Those are the straightforward words of Geoffrey Okwanyi. And to those who know him, the words carry power. That’s because they knew the cruel, sordid, criminal life Geoffrey led—one that could only be changed by God’s power.
Geoffrey grew up in a Christian home, and after finishing class-eight studies, he went to live with his brother in Central Kenya. But his brother was an alcoholic, and he soon followed his example drinking every day. Soon he was soliciting prostitutes and committing petty crimes. Over time, he grew cruel and people began to fear him. “Nobody would dare come into my life,” he says. “I was wild.”
Though he worked as a gym instructor and part-time bouncer at local clubs, he posed as a policeman to extort money from innocent people. His life took darker and darker turns each day, and soon he was taking money to beat up people. Then, in 2002, Geoffrey was hired by a woman to kill her husband so she could inherit his property. He consented to commit the act. When he greeted the man at his compound, suddenly his courage failed. Instead of killing him, Geoffrey confessed his intent. The man screamed, and neighbors ran to his rescue overpowering and taking him to the police. He was charged with conspiracy to murder and spent 8 months in prison.
Upon his release, Geoffrey returned to his village and started farming. He married a woman and began a stable family life. But when the couple had a son, the boy died after a short illness. Deep in grief, he was provoked at the funeral by his in-laws, and he snapped, beating them up. He was arrested again. Due to this, his wife left him after only a year and a half of marriage.
Broken and bewildered, Geoffrey moved to Nairobi’s Soweto slum. He sank back into his former lifestyle of drinking, doing drugs and defrauding people. He got a job as a machine operator at a maize flour company, where he met and married his second wife, Laura. Laura was a Muslim and tried to convert Geoffrey to Islam, but he had no interest.
While at home, something curious happened to Geoffrey, he heard the sound of worship, coming from a church nearby. Geoffrey was strangely drawn to enter the doors of New Hope Church. There he met Pastor Edward, and without prompting, Geoffrey surrendered his life to God.
The Soweto congregation and Pastor Edward, who has been trained by WPS, openly received Geoffrey and prayed for him. Yet Geoffrey’s new beginning in Christ was not stable. He would disappear from the church for a while and then resurface; he was struggling to give up his dark life. Still, Pastor Edward and the church kept seeking him out and praying for him. Their persistence bore fruit: Geoffrey came back to church steadily and was baptized last year.
Pastor Edward continues to disciple Geoffrey and walks with him through life. “Right now, I am a happy person,” Geoffrey says. “The feeling is unexplainable.” He no longer drinks, has stopped stealing and enjoys a whole new life in Christ. “People celebrated when I got born again,” he says. “Jesus has changed my life.” Today, he attends Bible school, where he soon will participate in WPS Community Health Evangelism training. Through this training he will be able to share his newfound faith and help his community find solutions to the many health and social issues that surrounds them.
Laura had gone to church with Geoffrey once, dressed in Muslim attire and was unmoved by the people and message. After she and Geoffrey had a baby girl, the loving compassion of the church women stirred her heart. She went to church with Geoffrey again, and this time she gave her life to Jesus. She was baptized last March.
Geoffrey and Laura now testify to everyone that Jesus saves and changes lives. They were once mired in darkness, but now have come into his marvelous light—transformed completely by God’s powerful love.