How could a father treat his own children that way? I wondered in disbelief. As a mother, shock (and anger) rushed through me as I listened to Jackson Muthoni tell me his story as we stood on the sidelines of a soccer field in Wamuini, Kenya.
Last year I told you about an entire Kenyan soccer team that turned to Christ after their troublemaking captain, Manu, was transformed by the gospel. That miracle was the result of the ministry of an evangelist named Herbert, who was able to reach the soccer team’s village on a bicycle provided by Heaven’s Family. Jackson is a member of that soccer team, and he, too, experienced the transforming power of the gospel.
After watching Manu, Jackson, and the rest of their team run soccer drills, the team took a break. That’s when Jackson came over to talk with me. This is his story…
When Jackson was just 7 years old, his father remarried. His new stepmother didn’t want anything to do with him or his 3-year-old sister, Jane. Her demands prevailed, and their father locked them in an abandoned house, then left. Thankfully, their aunt rescued them. After she pleaded with their father, he reluctantly agreed to let his children live in a mud, dung, and stick shack at the corner of his property—but totally on their own. At age 7, Jackson took care of himself and 3-year-old Jane as best he could.
When he was 10, Jackson began playing soccer with other boys in the village. By the time he reached 22 years of age, he was on Manu’s team—and under his criminal influence as well. Jackson was passionate about soccer, but inwardly, after years of rejection, he hated his father with an equal passion.
Then the Holy Spirit came to town…on two wheels, inside an evangelist named Herbert. Manu’s conversion and subsequent transformation amazed Jackson. Soon he, along with the rest of the team, wanted what Manu had. They made Jesus Lord of their lives and were all baptized!
I couldn’t help notice the mile-wide smile on Jackson’s face at that point, and I thought he had finished telling me his story. How could the story get any better? It did.
Jackson told me that the hatred in his heart for his father was gone, and his father noticed the change.
God’s love shown so brightly through Jackson that it reached into the depths of his father’s heart. Soon, he asked Jackson if he and other believers would pray for him, and not long after that a church was born in the very home that Jackson and his sister were forced to leave 15 years earlier.
Jackson has his own bicycle now, thanks to contributions to the Mobilize a Minister Fund. So far, he has used it to start five house churches and a small business to support himself. Although Jackson still enjoys playing soccer, his passion now is to ride his bicycle as far as he can to tell others about the love and reconciliation he has found through Jesus.