Hope Spotlight: Pastor Collins Ochieng, Mathare Valley
Nairobi, Kenya — Pastor Collins Ochieng came to the Mathare Valley slum of Nairobi, Kenya in 1991. He and his brother moved there because of the lack of money they had to live elsewhere. He made a living fixing shoes, but he felt his purpose was never fulfilled. He saw his friends killed, succumb to alcoholism and drugs, and fall off the grid. “Life in Mathare is hard,” he said. “To live, you need to live with your own power and no one else – or so I thought.”
In 1997, he was walking through the slum and met another local pastor from Mathare who preached the Good News of Jesus Christ to him. Pastor Ochieng told him, “I am not ready to be saved.” But the pastor didn’t give up on him. He tracked him down a few weeks later – and that day, Pastor Ochieng gave his life to Christ. “I was ready to move on with salvation!” he rejoiced. He knew this was from God and asked the pastor to teach him more about Christ.
When he matured in his faith, he knew he wanted to teach others the Gospel. In 1997, he joined Outreach Community Church (OCC), Bright Hope’s partner church in Mathare Valley. He was mentored and given the opportunity to attend Bible School. After two years, he earned his certificate. He then studied for four more years and earned his diploma in Biblical Studies. In 2008, he was ordained as a pastor. “I was such a happy man,” he said. “It was time to move ahead. Thank God for saving my life!”
As the current administrative pastor at OCC, Pastor Ochieng serves by running church logistics, music, offerings, and leading the ushers. But life as a pastor in Mathare is challenging. He said, “As pastors, we need to give up a lot. We need to give to others and not ourselves. We must work hard spiritually and physically.” But amongst the poverty and challenges in Mathare, Pastor Ochieng has Hope. His vision for his church is to “teach God’s Word and grow our people to become respectable people in our community. Someone once reached out to me and I saw the light. I want to do the same for the undone.”
Pastor Ochieng had a message for Bright Hope and our allies supporting OCC and Mathare Valley. “Thank you for praying for us and with us. You are a good friend to us. God can open doors for us to preach more to our community, and we thank you. I believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ! God bless all of you.”