Abraham and Isaac: Sons of God and Professors of the Earth
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.Hebrews 11:8-10 NIV
It was a sunny day in Gatura, Kenya, and a young boy named Abraham Ndungu was collecting water for his family. The neighbors started mocking him because he was doing a girl’s chore. Abraham ignored the taunts and headed back to join his eight siblings. When they got home Abraham told his family how he was being teased by the community. Naomi, his mother, said, “You shall not be ashamed to do any job that helps out your family.”
Abraham’s family was very poor financially and his father, Michael, had to travel a long way for his job. Everyone in the household had to pitch in to survive. One year Abraham and his siblings were prevented from attending grade school because they couldn’t afford to pay the fees. They did their chores and traveled around with their bare feet, because shoes were too expensive. Many days eating wasn’t an option and yet Naomi told her children to trust in the Lord and God would provide.
When Abraham was able to return to school, he started going to fellowship classes, and his teachers encouraged him to study hard. Even though Abraham had attended church his whole life, he felt pulled one day to commit himself completely to the Lord. After that moment, Abraham had a new sense of focus and momentum that helped him succeed in his academics. He learned of a concept called “college” but found out that only 10 percent of Kenyans were able to attend.
Abraham did well on the national test and was accepted to attend college at the University of Nairobi. He went on to get his master’s degree and chose a doctorate program in China where he hoped to witness and expand God’s kingdom.
By 1996 Abraham was a professor at Kenyatta University. He loved teaching, but his strongest passion was ministry. On a whim, he applied for a green card to come to the United States. When he received word that he had been granted permanent residency, he took it as a sign from God to move forward in ministry. Abraham’s wife and three children had never been to America, but wanted to support him and see what God had in store for them.
The Ndungu family landed in Columbus, Ohio. While they were getting settled in, Abraham decided to take a restaurant job at Der Dutchman while he waited to get into an education career. He was shocked when after a few days off his coworkers greeted him in the morning by giving him a list of what needed to be done. “Hey stop! We haven’t met for three days. You need to say hello first,” Abraham told them. His coworker laughed and told him, “In America, it’s business first.”
Soon Ohio Christian University, Ohio State University and Rosedale Bible College hired Abraham to work as an adjunct instructor. He was thrilled for the opportunity to teach in the US, but didn’t forget why he came. Ashland University offered him a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in ministry. Abraham hopes the knowledge he gains will help him to train more mission workers in Africa to spread the good word of God.
At OCU, Abraham teaches science courses in the College of Adult and Graduate Studies. “I want students to look at earth science from a perspective where they can appreciate God as the creator, to try to get them to see the relationship between what is in Scripture and what we see out there in nature.”
Meanwhile in Kamoiywa, Kenya, a twelve year old boy named Isaac Songok was devastated because his sister, Ester, left the family homestead. She was pregnant, but the baby’s father was a man from a different tribe. This caused a lot of family tension, and Silvano, Isaac’s father, didn’t approve. Still, Isaac worried for his sister, “Who will take care of her?” Isaac decided to run away from home to watch over her.
Silvano was not happy that his son had gone to be with Ester, but he continued to pay his school fees. Isaac felt alone at boarding school and had no visitors for four years. He did well enough on the Kenya national exam to get into college, but felt a little lost until he met a friend named Samuel who helped Isaac strengthen his Christian faith. Samuel had recently lost his mother and urged Isaac to reconnect with his parents.
On one trip home to visit his family, Isaac encountered a pregnant woman who was very ill and throwing up blood. They were miles away from anything or anyone, and Isaac didn’t have a car, a cellphone or even water to offer the woman. She died in his arms. Isaac never found out what caused this woman’s death because in Kenya autopsies are rarely performed. After this tragedy, he dreamed of having the resources one day to set up a women’s clinic.
Spending more time in prayer with Samuel helped Isaac with his studies. He graduated from Kenyatta University with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences.
After graduation Isaac’s best option for work was being a taxi driver. Isaac worked for two years before one day he picked up a gentleman in his taxi that took interest in him. He asked Isaac to drive him the next day as well. On that next trip, he inquired about Isaac’s life, asking Isaac what he dreamt of doing. Isaac told him he would like to get his master’s degree. The gentleman asked for his email address and the next day Isaac was sent a message from Dr. Vibert Cambridge, an associate professor at Ohio University’s School of Telecommunication. Dr. Cambridge asked Isaac if he would be interested in furthering his studies at Ohio University.
Isaac’s dad sold a piece of his land to pay for his son’s flight over to Ohio, and the whole community had a party for him to celebrate his future in the United States.
At Ohio University, Isaac did well in his studies with over a 3.5 GPA. However, he experienced a lot of culture differences. One day on campus he passed a group of women who were immodestly dressed. He had never seen something like that, so he panicked and ran away. Eventually people like Dr. Michele Morrone, Director of the Department of Environmental Studies, introduced him to other Kenyans who helped him adjust to his new surroundings.
Isaac graduated with a Master’s in Environmental Science and started to teach at Miami-Jacobs Career College and Ohio Christian University.
At an orientation for new faculty in the College of Adult and Graduate Studies, Isaac was talking to Heidi Frederick, the Assistant Vice President and Dean, about his life in Kenya and his plans to teach Earth Science. Heidi realized that Isaac must meet Abraham.
After receiving an email from Heidi, Abraham called Isaac and joked, “How are you, my son?” referencing their name relationship in the Bible. They start chatting in Swahili, their native language, and soon figured out that Isaac was a student at Kenyatta University, at the same time and in the same department where Abraham was a professor. Their paths had crossed many times before meeting officially at OCU.
Abraham feels a sense of pride, “That we were able in Kenya to train someone who would be accepted in the United States was very exciting. It is really great that he came here for his master’s and now teaches for a university.”
Thousands of miles and God has brought us together here to this area,” Isaac says.
People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.Hebrews 11:14-16