You might have seen her along Waiyaki Way, just after the UNCHR offices in Westlands, praying for people under a shrub. Naomi Jendeka, aka Mama Westlands, is her name.
Born in Emanda village, Vihiga county, Jendeka, who is the Mama Region of Bethsaida ADC branch in Kangemi, Nairobi, got saved at the age of 13. Since then, she has devoted herself to spreading God’s word.
Jendeka went to Vihiga Primary School but dropped out and never completed her studies. She joined ADC church in 1963 and got baptised in 1964.
Soon after she started preaching across East Africa under the then Bishop James Chabuga. In 1971, under Archbishop John Lilege Saiya, she and retired Region Joash Tiego set up ADC church in Kisumu, an undertaking that faced many challenges.
“Through our church, we managed to change the lives of many and to this day now, I feel good for being among the pioneers who started ADC church in Kisumu county,” she says. In 1976, she moved to Nairobi, where she worked with various ADC branches before securing her current ‘office’.
“One day, when I was sick, I dreamt that I had been sent to the wilderness, where there was no grass or people. I was shocked. ‘What kind of dream is this?’ I asked myself. ‘I cannot go to such a place’.” she says
“Later when I came to Nairobi I would pray for people at this place near Church Road. Many people from different races used to come for prayers and most got saved.”
Jendeka was however forced out of the place at the instigation of people jealous of her and at a point, she was even threatened by the landlord.
“I remembered there was a time I had dreamt that I was praying for people in the bush. I was evicted one morning while praying for people, [and] that’s how I landed here,” she says.
Throughout Christian history God’s people have endured numerous hardships and Jendeka is no exception. She says she too has seen it all.
“There was a time I would [get drenched in the rain] daily. [I was] insulted and called a false prophetess, threatened with slaughter, looked down upon, bewitched, witch doctors put up posters near my ‘shrine’. To the witchdoctors [I would say] I’m not shaken because I know I serve a living God (Acts 19 ).”
Many people she worked with, such as Elisha Mmemi and Kidagala, have passed away, but Jendeka finds her strength in the Lord, she says. Jendeka works from 9am to 5pm daily except Sundays. During the interview, her clients kept calling while others came for prayers, interrupting our conversation.
One of the clients, who sought anonymity, said, “I have been coming here for prayers for quite a while, especially when things aren’t going well in my life.
“Mama Westlands redefined my strength in God and, unlike flashy city pastors who ask for millions from congregants, she is humble and accepts any kind of offering.”
Jendeka says she prays and God does the miracles. “Sometime back, a woman visited me crying for help. She asked me to pray for her husband, who was suffering from a heart disease.
“We prayed together and when she went back to hospital, he was healed and discharged. All I tell my clients is to have faith and leave the rest to God. I have prayed for many people, some have even relocated abroad. All I say is ‘God’s work’,” she says
HOPES TO BUILD CHURCH
“I love the Lord and I’m urging Kenyans to love each other and spread the gospel so they can get saved and serve the Lord. We should shun tribalism because we are all God’s children. Having different religions is just like having many children and calling them different names.”
Kenya, or rather the capital Nairobi, has been overrun by high-end churches and flashy pastors who live like royalty, a lifestyle Jendeka avoids.
“I’m not rich. I’m a humble woman of God who has decided to serve Him. All I’m currently praying for is for God and good Samaritans to help me build a church where people can come and worship. But if I pray for cars, I might become arrogant and forget to serve him. Jesus rode on a donkey so why should I lead a lavish lifestyle?”
She admits to accepting any form of gifts from her clients as appreciation for praying for them. The mother of one advises Kenyans and religious leaders to unite and let peace prevail.
“I call upon my fellow preachers to continue spreading the word of God so that we can save the lost souls and our nation. Tuwe na umoja na tufanye nchi yetu iwe salama na upendo ( 1 John) [Let’s stay united and make our country safe and filled with love,” Jendeka says.
As a parting shot she urges believers to read and meditate upon Luke 17:13, Mathew 10:15 and Mathew 24:1.
“Without God I am nothing. Even today at my age, I still cry to God for help and strength to enable me to finish the journey I started well.”