“The fact that I can read today is a miracle. But the fact that I am a teacher is an even greater miracle.” This is the testimony of George Olwanda, missionary in Lamu, Kenya. This small island in the Indian Ocean is a Muslim-dominated tourist hot-spot.
George and his wife Doris first went to Lamu in 2010, leaving a successful business in Nairobi in order to obey the call they sensed from God. Starting from “nowhere” so to speak, today they provide tuition to over 70 children and adults in many different subjects. The highest demand is for English tuition. Their impact on the island is now being felt, as students are scoring higher marks and parents confide in them and even asks for prayers.
Their progress has not come without a cost. Their first-born was a baby when they moved to Lamu. With the change of climate and harsh conditions, she succumbed to illness at one year of age. Their second daughter, born in Lamu, lived only six months and passed away due to illness also. Such harsh sacrifice would understandably have driven most people out of the mission field and back to a safer environment. But not for George and Doris! They persevered.
Doris gave birth again last year. Their son, Chanan, is healthy and growing well.
The miracle in George’s story is that he did not do well in school, and left Standard 8 without even being able to read. He had little hope for success in life. But God changed all that when George gave his life to Christ at age 21.
One day, George opened the Bible and read a verse. Just like that. Thinking it was an illusion, he closed the Bible. But he repeated the verse to himself over and over, committing it to memory. The next day, he opened the Bible in another spot and read one more verse. He memorized it also.
It was hard for George to believe that he was reading, so he checked out repeatedly whether the words he had memorized were actually the ones written on the pages of the Bible. It was true. From there, he started reading the Bible, in English, from beginning to end. God had supernaturally taught him to read.
The Olwanda’s deepest desire is that as they develop relationships in the community, and as people trust them more and more, that the people of Lamu will also come to trust and believe in the God that they serve.
George and Doris are members of Generation Safi, DOVE Nairobi region.
By Diane Omondi