Lucy Wangunjiri was barely 15 when her father chased her away, with no where else to go to, she got a job as a domestic worker. She speaks to us on rebuilding her relationship with her dad and finding her true purpose.
Her life is a collage of the good, the ugly, the mundane and the bad. That does not so much frighten her as it does put a smile on her face. “I was born an eagle and not a chicken,” she says, then reiterates countless times.
She was born Lucy Mburu, in Muthigi, Murang’a, into a poor and struggling family.
“Our lives, my siblings and I, were full of challenges and upheavals. It was not any easier every time our father engaged us in constant battles in the name of reprimanding us. His beatings complicated life further,” she says.
After she was done with her KCSE exams – which she could only sit for while taking shelter at a neighbor’s homestead – Lucy was both weary and stretched out of patience with her father. The next beating she was slated to receive would be her last.
“Anything, even the slightest of mistakes, ticked him off. He would beat the lights out of his children. That is what he did to me – when a boy directed his overtures towards me,” Lucy recounts. Miffed and visibly shaken, Lucy told her father, in rather unflattering terms, “you will never beat me again.”
The old man responded by banishing her from his homestead, cursing as he chased after her with a machete in hand, “Move out and go become a prostitute!”
She was barely 15 when she left home, with nothing more than the clothes she had on. Instead of becoming a prostitute, Lucy was hired as a house maid, by a woman who had hired her mother to pick and arrange eggs for selling.
Her employer, Mama Ciru, moved with her to her Buru-Buru residence in Nairobi. Lucy was grateful for the opportunity. But down below she felt empty; an emptiness that hollowed from her soul.
Nonetheless she resolved to make the best out of it. “I told myself that I will do a good job for my employer; that I will watch over her baby and attend to her needs just like she required me to. And I will also pray for her,” she recalls.
Prayer was her fundamental weapon, she says. She had been a born-again Christian from a nascent age of six. House chores. Prayer. Watching over the baby. These three punctuated her daily existence.
The day her boss told her, “Look for a college and I will pay your fees,” is the day Lucy believes she started to experience hope. Lucy places it down on God. “I was only a good employee. There is nothing drastic I did to deserve my boss’s kindness. God was using her to get me to where he wanted to see me,” she says.
A year later, Lucy got her diploma in sales and marketing. Her first job was at Nation Media Group where she sold newspaper space. She would meet someone and get married in 1995, despite a covenant she had with herself, that she would never get married after her frightful experience with a vociferous father. The man, Ngunjiri, gave Lucy her new identity – from Lucy Mburu to Lucy Wangunjiri.
Between the years 1995 and 2000, Lucy’s life swung like a pendulum between abundance and squalor. Her husband lost his job. She delivered their first child. She also relinquished her position curtailed by motherhood and hawked mitumba clothes to make ends meet.
At the turn of the millennium, she went back to the media, this time round, at a newly established FM station, where she would be assigned sales targets that she easily surpassed.
“That I achieved my targets worked to my advantage,” she says. “But I wanted to be part of a Gospel show – In Search of God – that aired every Sunday. I talked to the host and expressed my love for the show. I told her I wanted to host with her and she asked me to join her in the studio to learn the ropes.”
She did. Auspiciously, one Sunday morning, the host didn’t show up and Lucy was by herself on the show. She confesses to butterflies and heebie jeebies.
But when she was done and she emerged from the studio door she was met by an ecstatic boss and workmates. In her words, she had exceeded everyone’s expectations.
“I have hosted the show for 16 years now,” she says. As her listenership grew so did her fan base. She would call for prayer meetings on the show. She enrolled at Pan African University to study Bible and Theology and was ordained the same week she graduated.
In 2006, feeling convicted, she formed Prayer Beyond Boundaries Ministries (PBB), a church which remained nondescript until a recent fiasco that put her at the centre of political battle between Jubilee and Cord, the two main political coalitions at the moment.
Lucy, now an evangelist, was in the headlines (whether it was for wrong or right reasons is for you to judge) fighting for the right to host a prayer meeting at Uhuru Park on Madaraka day last year.
Like a storm in a tea cup, the lull happened quickly, and her life went on unfazed. When we meet Lucy at her church offices inside City Primary, she is in a pensive mood.
A phone call seemed not to have yielded to her expectations. But she quickly sheds off the ashen face and replaces it with a smile – in a way that only a preacher can. “Nothing is worth frowning over,” is all she says.
Lucy’s journey as a Christian has seen her take in 102 children into a children’s home. “I believe that God, like he has done for me, is using me to impact their lives. I got these children from Eldoret at the height of post-election violence in 2008. They now use my family name as their surname,” she says.
Before 2005, buoyant with God’s favour and goodness, Lucy asked for forgiveness from her father. Not that she had wronged him the same way he did to her.
It was her way of reaching out and forgiving him for the tumultuous childhood she suffered in his hands.
In 2005, she got a loan from a bank and booked the two of them for a flight to Britain and the United States. “It was my treat for him; I wanted him to know that I had forgiven him,” she says.
Mid-flight, her father sank his face in his palm and uttered the words she had always wanted to hear from him: “Forgive me my daughter for all the wrongs I have done to you.”
The daughter he had chased from home to be a prostitute had evaded the maladies of a lurid life and was instead in a stable loving marriage and hosted a gospel show on radio.
Lucy has captured her story in a memoir, Prayers Beyond Boundaries, which she says is a riveting ensemble of her life: the journey she has made in life with God’s faithfulness.