An interview with the Mutinda’s (Antoninah & Mike)Wachira John
Guess what? Another interview! This interview is the first of its kind on this blog. Its of a couple, whose story I think is quite phenomenal. In as much as I did the interview, I did learn tonnes from them. It is really an honor to have had the opportunity to interview them. Anto and Mike, asante! Ardent readers, I will say no more, read it for yourself.
Who are you?
Antoninah & Mike: We are the Mutindas (Michael and Antoninah). God has blessed us with two children; Deborah 7 and Ezra 4, turning 5 this November. We are involved in a ministry called Daystar Institute of Biblical Theology and Leadership Development / Africa or in short Daystar Institute Africa (DI / A). It focuses on grounding believers into the word of God and training them into practical Christianity.
How did you meet?
Antoninah: One thing that is a characteristic marker of us is that we love Jesus passionately. He is at the center of everything we do. He is the reason we came together and we are very deliberate at following Him. Everything that we share with you in this interview is a story of how Jesus can seek out a young man and woman, develop a story with each of them and bring them together.
I grew up in an estate that was mostly known for bad reasons. Seldom would you have girls go through high school without dropping out because of teenage pregnancy or early marriage. My mum began a Bible club for teenagers, as I listen to her now; I realize she did it to protect me from those vices. We used to meet at our house. Over time, the numbers grew really big, majority of the group members were boys. My mom felt the need to have more space and that was when she approached Mike’s Church where she was given a room. That is how I ended up meeting Mike.
Mike: We met in 1997 while serving God. I was a youth leader at A. I. C Ziwani. Guys were more active than ladies. It was a prayer item in our fellowship that more ladies would come up and serve God. During that time, we wanted to interact with the neighborhood of our church. It was then that I was informed that there was a group of young people that met in our church for Bible Study (BS). I was interested to meet the group so that we could work together. One day I waited to see the group after their BS. I noticed that they were about 7 of them and most of them were guys however, in their midst, there was a lady. I then proceeded to ask who the group leader was. I was informed that it was Antoninah. I was astounded that while we had a deficiency of passionate ladies for Christ, across was this group from the church’s neighborhood that had a leader who was a lady. I seized the opportunity and desired to poach the group leader into our fellowship (Laughter). And so that is how our journey of friendship began.
Tell me about your early days.
Antoninah: I was excited after meeting Mike. He was a leader, I was a leader too but then just after two weeks, he says to me that he sees in me the kind of lady he would like to end up in marriage with. I turned him down because I felt we needed to know each other first. Hence we bonded through the youth initiatives that were going on at the time. We had the opportunity to socialize a lot. After 2 years, he proposed again. I was like eish, this guy is intense. He wasn’t like other guys I’d met who beat around the bush. I am a pastor’s kid so it took some level of courage to approach me in that dimension. Looking back right now, I still wasn’t ready because I needed to grow; I needed to appreciate meaningful friendships; male friendships and the dynamics that come along with them. Then, he came from a different church from mine so I thought it would have been nice to get someone from our church so that I won’t have to move churches. But right from the start it was clear that he was a guy like no other. He was diligent in pursuing and serving God. When we went out for a snack, he would insist on praying. Most people are afraid to pray in public. Not Michael (amazing isn’t it?) So after he proposed again after 2 years, I still wasn’t sure I wanted to be in a relationship. Sure we had a strong friendship but I wasn’t ready so I requested that we shelf that matter to later. Later would come after 4 years.
Having such a long period of friendship, how were you able to maintain your friendship and not be entangled?
Mike: I was very forthright from the beginning. Within two weeks, it was settled for me that she had the qualities of a person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Over the course of our friendship, I got to like more of what I saw in her in terms of character. I developed a principle which has three circles when dealing with ladies. The inner circle had my special lady who had to be only one. The middle circle comprised of ladies that I mostly served with in fellowship or friends who I worked with. The outer circle comprised of acquaintances. That principle of categorizing friendships helped me in being very official. For her, I knew where we were going, I did not take it just like any other friendship, the fact that it was special helped paint a picture of the potential it had.
Antoninah: I do not think that being entangled is Christian. I grew up being taught that let your yes be yes and your no, no. When he proposed and I knew I wasn’t ready for it, I told him no. I needed to know him more. So during the two years, it was very clear that we were not in a relationship with Michael. We however did spend time with each other whether by going to missions or doing activities together. He and I knew that we were not in a relationship but we were friends and we got to bond on that level of friendship. The ties caused by entanglements leave you vulnerable and cause undue pressure which the devil can use against a couple.
What caused you to say yes? (After 6 years)
Antoninah: I have had the opportunity to interact with a lot of people. The Lord took me through a journey of being able to discern character so that I’m not very keen on what you say as much as who you are. During that period of growing up, the Lord helped me understand my gifts; that helped me know who I was as a person. When Michael first proposed, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I was a minister of the gospel. For me, it had to be more than TDH (Tall Dark Handsome); I had to know the person’s value system, their perspectives on different matters for instance women and ministry, would they be intimidated by women who are ministers? Such kind of things. I was also looking for a leader, a man who had a personal relationship with Jesus so that I wouldn’t be the one pulling them up. For the man I would spend my life with, I needed him to have a strong deliberate relationship with God. I realized that God does not have a problem with the person he will bring into your life. He has a problem with us not wanting to be conformed into Christlikeness so that we are the best possible spouses to relate with.
Is there anything such as knowing she is the one?
Mike: I think the best way to answer that question is not to answer it at all. Do not get bothered by wanting to know whether he/she is the person for me because that is not the issue. The issue should be, how I’m I growing in the Lord, how is my spiritual life, how much of JC I’m I becoming day by day. The focus should not be how to know so and so, it should be how can I be known by whoever God has created for me. God is more interested in a young man and woman coming together than we are. Since it is his working, he will bring these two people together. When young people focus on God, He has a way of bringing them together. In essence, fall asleep, focus on serving God, He will sort out the other things just like he did for Adam.
Antoninah: What Mike has shared is so foundational in that God is and should be the focus. Not marriage, not even this other person. What most people do not realize is God is the greatest stakeholder in a relationship. Like he said, God is so much interested in keeping a young man and woman together for his glorious name. When you appreciate that, you cease to relate out of pressure or desperation. When you are given to God, the Holy Spirit will lead you to the right person.
What are your thoughts on Purity? Drawing from your own story.
Antoninah: Michael was very straightforward in his approach. He proposed to me in October 2004 and he told me that by this time the next year, he would want us to have gotten married. So we courted for one year. I think it is important to set an upper limit to when you are supposed to get to married. It serves as an encouragement and helps you know how to conduct yourself in that period. It is also important to be honest about your feelings and identify trigger factors that would lead to compromising situations so that you know how to avoid them. While we were courting, he said to me that he will want to look into my eyes and be sure that we both made it. When he said that to me, I knew that I had to play my part to ensure that what he desires to see, he sees. I’m sharing that to say that there is the place of the man in setting the pace of the relationship. Men are strong contrary to the talk out there that men are weak. The Holy Spirit is there to enable young men to say no to unrighteousness.
Mike: In matters of purity, men should step up because they are called to be providers, protectors and priests. When a man says, I love you; it is different from when a lady says those same words. From a lady, it means she has submitted. She goes to the extent of submitting her body. To the man, he is simply conveying his feelings and showing that he would want to spend the rest of his life with that lady. It doesn’t hit men that one of the responsibilities they have is to safeguard their girlfriend’s virginity. For the ladies, one of the greatest markers of telling whether the man you have loves you is if he is willing and acting in a way that preserves your virginity. If he acts in that way intentionally, know that he loves you; with Godly love, unlike earthly love which seeks to take a woman’s innocence. In matters of purity, a lot lies with the man. Since he is the head, he has a responsibility to ensure the relationship remains pure.
We desired to be counted as one of those who’d made it and partake of God’s blessing on our wedding day. It was not easy; focusing on Christ helped us a lot. We’ve seen and heard from couples who’ve not made it in the area of purity and from their experiences, we’ve realized that that has a way of sucking out the life or rather the trust element from their relationship . You will find that there is a question on the back of the couple’s minds that goes something like; “If he/she could not keep themselves from me, can I really trust him/her from other men/ladies?” If you do not earn that trust in courtship because you were not pure, it has a way of affecting your marriage in future. It sucks out a huge section of your foundation in your relationship. Purity is worthwhile. We are enjoying our marriage right now, because we stayed committed to one another and obeyed the word of God. The benefits far outweigh the challenges.
How has your marriage progressed over the years?
Antoninah & Mike: Our first few years had a lot of passion as well as fighting (not the physical fights, but disagreements) because of our different personalities, or we thought differently on a particular issue. I remember him sharing at some point that the issue is that we aren’t on different sides fighting each other, but rather we are on the same side looking at a situation differently. So we sat down and came up with our own set of principles that governed how we did things as a family. One other thing that made our journey become a lot easier was that we joined a couples group one year after we got married. The interesting thing was that we realized that we weren’t the only ones going through struggles. The things that we used to argue about became laughable.
How are your roles cut out?
Mike: One principle you get from the Bible concerning family is the principle of two becoming one. It has helped us merge our roles so that they are divided in accordance to someone’s gifting. Those principles have helped us in some of the contentious areas like finances. We approach them as one. We see it as our money, we plan and distribute it together and even if each of us handles separate things, we come from a foundation of oneness. She is actually me in a different package and I’m her in a different package. So that you find even when we disagree, we have to make peace because I cannot disagree with myself. So we have to work as a unit.
What is the most important lesson you want your kids to learn.
Antoninah & Mike: The fear of God brought about by knowing Him because it is that knowledge that stirs up the reverence of God. We do pray for them, their future partners, we pray that the Lord grants them wisdom and discernment to not only know God but also know His will in their lives. The other super critical lesson is modeling. We want our kids to see and learn from us what it means to be a godly man and woman. Not to say that we are perfect, but what they need to see that while mom and dad may not be perfect, they are pursuing Jesus. And Jesus is faithful enough to forgive them and strengthen them in their weaknesses. We are also are very deliberate in making sure that they develop relational skills by allowing them to go out and play with other kids.
The Institute you mentioned that you work for, what is the main thing it does?
Antoninah & Mike: The main thing it entails is discipleship focused on theology for practical living/Christianity. What that means is we seek to increase the knowledge of believers in the word of God so that their lives are dictated by scripture. Our goal is that believers should not conform to their normal way of thinking but should apply the mind of Jesus Christ in their daily lives. The statistic in our country shows that Christians are 80% of the population, but you find that the Christian influence is not being felt and that means that there are Christians in name only or Christians who do not really understand what it means to be a Christian. Our ministry focuses on how one can be an effective Christian so that they are the salt and light of the society.
What challenges have you faced in ministry?
Antoninah: The general and greatest challenge is that Christians are disinterested in getting more knowledge about the Bible and God. There is a general knowledge people have and a feeling that that is enough. People are very keen on pursuing careers but when it comes to the knowledge of God and of studying the Bible, there is a general disinterest.
Mike: The other challenge that most Christians have is self-deception. They have a set for themselves a standard of relating with God and they think that’s the truth. They forget that God has his own standards and most Christians do not want to find out that standard. It is therefore very important for a Christian to know the standards of God and realize that one day they will give an account of their lives.
What legacy would you want to leave?
Antoninah & Mike: We want to leave a legacy of a couple that did exploits for God. A couple that was God centered, a couple that stepped up in faith, and did wonders for the kingdom of God. We do not want to limit ourselves but actually want to push the limits because God has no limits. We want it to be known that there lived a couple that brought about Godly influence. So that the society is more Godly because we existed at a particular point in time.
Antoninah: It is important that everyone realizes that life on earth is very temporary. So every waking moment that God allows you to have breath, put a smile on his face. Be it in how you think, how you speak or how you interact with people…and for you to know that, seek to know His will. His will is found in Scripture. So make it your daily meal, study and seek to do it, because when this fleeting life is over, you will stand before Him and you will want Him to call you good and faithful servant.
Mike: Genesis 1:26 and 27, we are created in Gods image and likeness. That part of scripture answers the question of purpose; and the purpose of humans is to reflect the image and likeness of God. So the question is how much of that is real in your life. For you to reflect the likeness of Christ, you need to have the mindset of Christ, and you do that by studying Scripture. If you have any challenge in studying scripture, join us. We’ll help you, show you how to study scripture and enable you to showcase the way of Jesus Christ and the apostles so that at the end of the day you can reflect God’s image and likeness.