Marilyn Uhl will be the first to tell you that establishing and running Living Hope High School in Bungoma Kenya could not happen without God. She will also tell you that the longer she’s in Africa, the stronger her faith grows. Marilyn has seen God work things out in strange and powerful ways, even when she didn’t believe he would. “I don’t know why we don’t have total faith because He never lets us down.” she reminds us. “He might not answer us the way we want or when we want, but He always has our good in mind.” The Living Hope journey continues with these true stories of the miraculous ways God is working in the lives of Marilyn and her students.
Murunga’s Story: The Drug Deal
Murunga had one dream: to go to High School. He’d worked hard every year in primary school and graduated from 8th Grade with top honors. Despite all he had accomplished; his family was not able to meet the costs for him to attend 9th grade. His mother had passed away and his father had sold all their property to support his drinking habit. Having families and problems of their own, his brothers were also unable to furnish the money he needed.
The yearning Murunga had to go to high school did not diminish. He not only longed to attend; he knew he needed to attend to live the successful life he dreamed of. If money was what was standing between Murunga and school, then he would find a way to get the money.
With 8th grade graduation behind him and the goal of attending high school in front of him, Murunga became a “Boda Boda” ….a motorcycle taxi driver. Because he kept his bike clean and in good shape and he never ran out of gas, Murunga built a regular customer base. He worked long hours for little pay. On the rare occasion that he was given a little extra money for the ride, he bought one thing he knew he’d need for school: a pencil, a notebook, a small can of shoe polish. Each precious item was put in his “faith box” hidden beneath his bed.
Despite Murunga’s hard work and belief that he would one day be a high school student, two years passed. Discouragement began to set in and waiting became almost more than he could bear. One day, a man from the village approached Murunga and offered him the job of being the transporter in a drug deal. It sounded easy. All he had to do was carry a box of drugs, worth more money than Murunga could imagine, from point A to point B. He knew it was wrong, but it was the only way he could see to get the money he needed for school. He decided to take the risk and do it.
In preparation for the transport, he drove his motorcycle down to the filling station. As he gassed up, Pastor Martin, a teacher at Living Hope High School, pulled in to the pump right next to Murunga. Both were from the same area so Pastor Martin was well aware of Murunga’s family situation. He struck up a conversation with him and as they talked, Pastor Martin told Murunga about Living Hope and that there was one spot left open in the Freshman class. The words rang in Murunga’s ears and his chest felt tight. After what seemed like an eternity to Murunga, Pastor Martin said the words he longed to hear. He asked him if he’d be interested in filling that spot and become a Freshman at Living Hope High School. Without realizing it, Murunga had been holding his breath. As air escaped between his lips, he remembered that the drug deal was to take place in less than two hours. Once the delivery was completed, he’d be paid a large sum of money: more than he could have ever hoped for!
The promise of money did not compare with the desire Murunga had to attend high school. He’d waited so long for this moment to come and so, without hesitation, he accepted. Before they headed off to Living Hope, Murunga had one stop to make. Pastor Martin followed him home.
Yes, God works in strange ways. Murunga would have risked everything, even his life, had he completed the drug deal. He hadn’t seen any other way until in the eleventh hour God stepped in and saved him. The waiting was over. With hands shaking in excitement, he pulled the cardboard box from under his bed. For two years he’d faithfully collected supplies he knew he’d someday use at school. Once the cargo was loaded on the back of Murunga’s motorcycle, the two, teacher and student, began the journey down the road to a brighter future.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya
For more information on Living Hope High School, go to www.livinghopehighschool.org or call Marilyn’s sister, Helen Markwell at 304-567-2254