Jonathan Agunda — Standing Tall

Compassion International: Now in his sophomore year at Nairobi University, Leadership Development Program (LDP) student Jonathan Agunda grew up in one of the world's most notoriously impoverished communities. Though only 21, Jonathan is already a living example of how God's love lifts us up and enables us to stand tall.

Jonathan Agunda — Standing Tall

  |   Posted: August 30, 2004

Leadership Development Program student Jonathan Agunda (right) is proving to others in his desperately poor community  including his niece Brigit  that God can turn despair into hope.

At 21 years old, Leadership Development Program (LDP) student Jonathan Agunda is a small guy accomplishing big things with God's help.

Although Jonathan is only five feet, five inches tall, he is unable to stand fully upright inside his home in Nairobi's Mathare Valley. Not unlike the other homes in this impoverished squatter's community, the one Jonathan shares with his mother and older sister is a small, one-room structure with mud walls, a dirt floor and a corrugated tin roof. There is no running water, electricity or bathroom.

Kenya's Mathare Valley is not a place that inspires great accomplishments. It is where Nairobi's poorest congregate and slowly waste away from disease, starvation and lack of hope. But even in this desperate place, God can be found  Jonathan is proof.

A Spark of Hope

"Compassion really gave me and my family hope for a better life," says Jonathan, who was enrolled in a local church-based project when he was 10 years old. Specifically, it was project worker Isaac Okinyi who instilled in Jonathan the confidence and desire to become all he could be in Christ. "Mr. Okinyi recognized my potential and immediately became involved in my academic life by encouraging me to do my best."

Jonathan's best, as it turned out, was impressive. He was first in his class throughout his elementary and secondary school years. An outgoing boy, he also excelled at soccer and as a Sunday school teacher at the Redeemed Gospel Church. It was obvious that he had natural leadership ability and the potential to succeed in Compassion's Leadership Development Program.

Currently a second-year LDP student, Jonathan is succeeding, majoring in finance at Nairobi University and, at the same time, honing his Christian leadership skills.

The Confidence to Look Ahead

Looking ahead is not something the residents of Mathare Valley like to do. For too many of them, bowed under the weight of poverty, the future holds only despair. But in one Mathare home, a young college student stands tall, looking forward to a better life, one in which he can help ease the burdens of others and share with them the light and life of Christ. 

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