An interview with James Ogutu.Wachira John
This week, I present a person who in my thinking is very wise, knowledgeable and God inspired. It was an honor to have interviewed him. I first knew him as the CU chairman in the JKUAT christian union. Without further words, join me as I explore Ogutu’s world…
Who are you?
My name is James Ogutu. I’m a Christian. Basically that simplifies everything about me because all about me is defined by the fact that I’m a believer. The direction my life takes is based on that fact. I believe that the value system of anybody needs to be anchored somewhere and it’s very important for it to be anchored in Christ.
What’s a normal day like to you?
I wake up at 5AM, do normal preparations and then I’m in the bus by 6. Interestingly, I do devotion while I’m travelling to the office.
Doesn’t the loud music distract you?
I’m very strategic about that, I use the Kenya Mpya bus; they are not loud in the morning. If I don’t, it’s the first thing I do when I get to the office. Also, the way I do devotion is a bit different from the conventional way. I study scripture and then ponder about it for the remaining part of the day. I get quality time to pray when I come back to my room after I’ve given the scripture I’ve read some thought.
How do you do your devotion?
I read the bible from Genesis to Revelation in that order. Personally, I focus more on the content rather than the program. I’m the kind of person who isn’t so strict on the program. Its good practice to cultivate a culture of having a program. However, I’m more disciplined in ensuring that I get the content. While focusing on the content, I realized that I read the Bible all the more because as I ponder about what I’d read, I get curious about something and go back to scripture. It works for me.
What motivates you to rise up in the morning?
I believe that my life has value. That’s the major principle I use anywhere I find myself. I have something to add to people and to the various environments I find myself in. Every single day is an opportunity to add value to anything I lay my hands on. I usually ask myself, what is the best thing I can do to this person, to this situation et cetera. If God gives me the privilege to live until my hair turns grey, I’d like to turn back and see that I each day I lived was a life of value.
What are you currently doing?
I’m currently employed, as a traffic engineer with NAS international and partly a student at JKUAT.
How do you juggle work and study?
It is difficult. That’s the reality. Both of them are demanding. I do try to balance them out, for instance, since I don’t work all the time in the office, whenever I have free time I read and when I’m held up in school, I can do office work and send it.
Since you recently completed campus, how would you describe your campus experience?
In a word, active. It went very fast. I’ve held highly tasking positions in the Christian union all the way through till I finished.
You will agree that it’s not everybody who’s had the opportunity to have the position’s you held during your time in campus. Why do you think those positions were entrusted to you?
One of the reasons I believe is commitment. I’ve come to realize that commitment is something that’s difficult. Sometimes, it leads you to live a very risky life. For instance, when you are the CU chairman almost everyone backs out because there are exams but you still have to be there to make sure everything runs as it should. When people see the commitment and passion you have for something, they feel that certain responsibilities are safer in your hands and they’ll be available to back you up.
What course did you do and what is it about?
Electronics and Computer Engineering (ECE). In Electrical engineering, there is heavy power and low power or light current. Basically we deal with consumption of electricity. Electronics helps us learn the principles of design of electronics systems. We learn about the underlying principles behind electronics gadgets so that hopefully, we come up with something new.
Your job, Traffic Engineering. What does it involve?
It involves studying road traffic situations. It also involves signalized junctions; where we have programmed traffic lights to control traffic situations. There’s the bit of programming the controllers, doing the actual electrical wiring and connection and also learning how to solve the problem of traffic and basically the movement of vehicles.
Traffic Engineering; I believe you’re focusing on Nairobi, How is the situation?
Yes, it’s Nairobi. The situation is chaotic. But it certainly can be improved. It’s far better than some other cities of the world. It’s just that the right measures have not been taken to curb the problem.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about adding value. My key philosophies include building two families, one, building the family of God and building my own family.
Is there anything you see around you that would like to change right now or in the future?
The church should find a way of getting into the world and find a way of changing the world. As long as believers are by themselves and the non-believers alike, we are not going to see transformation. I’ve come to realize that the greatest form of evangelism is being where the non-believers are and meeting their world view at that point and not waiting for them to meet us where we are and our world views. What I am looking forward to is a church that has found its space in the world and infects the world with kingdom values. We cannot expect the world to change if we don’t go there.
Are there practical ways to get there you have or thought of?
Many of the serious Christian students are urged to join Christian organizations or what is called ministry. Those who are not so strong in the faith join the corporate world. Whilst there, they find the worldly values stronger than their own convictions and they get diluted and eventually conform to worldly standards. I don’t have a problem with people joining ministry, but I also think there should be more practicing believers entering into corporate positions. At that point, the way they stand for kingdom values wherever they work will be enough to cause transformation.
What do you do in your free time?
When indoors, I listen to music and also watch a movie. Outdoors, I go swimming. I’m also learning a new language, French.
If this was the US and the gay marriages have been legalized by the law of the land, what would be your stance?
From the word go, it’s important to note that gay marriage is unbiblical. God’s design for marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s just wrong for it to get to a level that Christians are being coerced to accept it because it is the law of the land. The same laws allow for freedom of expression in terms of religion. Nobody should be forced to accept that which is against their religious belief. The laws of the land are made to suit the people who live in that land. The less Christians we have on that land, the more we expect the laws made to be less Christian.
How should a Christian relate with people who are gay?
Even if there was no law, I think it’s in a believer that sinners should find the highest level of acceptance in them. Jesus lived his life that way and was called friend of sinners. No one wants to be labeled a sinner. In a more practical scenario, if I had a friend, a neighbor, or a relative who was gay, my approach to such a person would need to be one which practices unconditional love. The kind that assures the other person that despite the choices they have made and the state they are in, I love them. That kind of love will cause me to pray to God for transformation in their lives other than being judgmental. If they see an eye of mercy, they will run to the church for protection, not the other way round. We need to love them enough to come close and let them know a better way to live life.
What do you dislike?
I don’t hold friends who take me for granted. I like to be around people who believe in my potential. Those who don’t bring along negative energy.
What food do you like?
I think I like all kinds of food. But well fried Tilapia is a favorite.
What are your thoughts on Christian courtship?
One, it has standards and an objective. It must have an agenda right from the very beginning. The bible requires absolute purity in Christian courtship. In the one year eleven months I’ve been in courtship, I’ve known purity is not easy. It requires decisiveness to know what the bible expects of you and practical things you can put to make sure you achieve that objective. Mentorship is also very important in courtship. It doesn’t matter how much you know about relationships. Mentorship translates theory to practice. What you know is right, but seeing how the mentors walk the talk and the results in their life makes it easier for you. It is easy to practice what you’re convinced is going to work other than theories you have.
What is the role of a man in a courtship? Especially in terms of leading the lady spiritually?
For the man, it’s a period of learning. How to take care of a woman, how to respond to her emotions, how to be visionary and be the leader in that relationship. It’s important for the man to be very clear in letting the lady know where he intends to lead her.
(On the question of leading her spiritually…)
It’s not easy to preach to your girlfriend. Actually, you are not required to preach to her in scripture. However, on the question of leading her spiritually, it begins with how convicted you are about your own faith and how that extends to what you practice. What you practice must be influenced by scripture. You do not have to know everything. But the much you know, practice it. Ladies easily know if you are doing things because scripture has informed you. It is a blessing to know that your lady knows that the decisions you make and the actions you take are scripture oriented. The importance of that is, though you may not preach to her, when she sees how her man takes scripture seriously and he’s her leader, then she will know that’s the way to go.
Being a spiritual leader means being at the forefront in practicing scripture both in your life and your relationship.
Who’s Ogutu in five years?
I expect to be established in career; I look forward to have been registered as an engineer. I also look forward to be a family man. I also want to participate in mentorship programs and also evangelical ministry to gather people to Christ.
What’s your favorite bible verse?
Hebrews 11:1. The bible says that Faith is the substance of things hoped for. I think that’s the game changer in a believer’s life. It means that a Christian can produce evidence of what does not exist. It means that you can ignore physical realities and function in the spiritual realities so that things that would drown people cannot drown you. I think that’s the key to living extraordinary lives. That’s what we see with Moses while parting the Red sea and the woman with the issue of blood.
Two categories, for believers, when we allow the word of God to shape our perspective, life becomes more meaningful and we look forward to tomorrow. For non-believers, it’s important to understand that there is a higher life. You may be living a good life and experience a sense of freedom but there is a higher life that can be experienced by having a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is only then that you have access to God and once you have access to God, things change. Your life changes, your perspective changes and you have hope beyond the grave.