Everyone loves a story, especially the ones that move us and touch our heartstrings because they are based on true events. We love “rags to riches” stories in which a commoner becomes a king, a chorus girl becomes a leading lady, or a plough horse becomes a champion. We enjoy stories about individuals who have overcome obstacles to achieve fame and fortune. Sometimes, however, the most inspirational stories of all are those which are never told, because the hero of the plot didn’t make headlines. The servant became a hero by remaining a servant. The life story of Joshua Kadenge is one of these.
Joshua was born in a grass hut in rural Kenya. His father was blind and had to beg in order to support his family. As the oldest child, Joshua moved into a grass hut near his family and lived alone when he was just ten years old. He would travel with his mother and exchange work for food for the family. During times of drought, he and his mother often had to travel for miles in search of work.
Although the day and year of his birth are unknown, Joshua entered primary school around the age of 13. His walk to and from school took over two and a half hours each way. He attended class for nearly 10 hours every day.
When Joshua reached the Standard 6 grade level, Joshua’s mother told him that she could no longer afford to help him pay for school. Joshua was determined to complete his education, however, and took whatever jobs he could find. Thirty days of work would generally allow him to attend school for two months. Joshua eventually completed primary school and received a Kenya Certificate of Primary Education, earning a score of 82%.
The community began to appreciate both the magnitude of Joshua’s struggles and his determination. A compassionate teacher rallied the community to help him finance his secondary school education. Together, they raised enough money to send him to his first year at Malindi High School in Malindi, Kenya. He was around 21 years of age at that time. During his first year of high school, Joshua’s church raised enough funds to send him back for a second year. Before his second year of high school was completed, he was robbed of everything he owned.
He was unable to finish the second year and decided to return home, a walk of nearly 50 miles from Malindi. Eventually, Joshua was able to return to high school, and his hard work, persistence and determination led him to be selected for a scholarship that allowed him to finish the last two years.
After graduation, Joshua yearned to find God’s plan for his life. His heart’s desire was to become a teacher, but he had no opportunity to attend college. His self-esteem began to deteriorate and a sense of hopelessness began to consume him. In 1995, Joshua moved from Malindi to Mombasa. He took various jobs to support himself, including work as a herdsman, gardener, and builder. In a state of desperation, he set aside a week to fast and pray and wait on God for an answer. On the last day of his fast, Joshua had a dream in which he was told to leave Mombasa and go to Shanzu.
Moving to Shanzu did not immediately solve Joshua’s problems or provide a clear answer to his future. He worked odd jobs while he waited on the Lord. He built a small shelter out of thatch, but one night in 1997, it burned to the ground. The fire destroyed all of his belongings and left him alone in the middle of the night during a heavy rainstorm. The following day, he went to church. A man stood and announced that he was resigning his teaching post at Mikoroshoni Primary School in Shanzu. Miraculously, Joshua was given the position. The Lord had opened a door.
For Joshua, teaching was not only an answer to prayer, it was a dream come true. Joshua loved teaching. Having no place to call home, Joshua slept in his classroom for two years, and took his baths in the school washroom.
The dream that came true led to the fulfilment of other dreams as well. Joshua met his wife, Esther, in 1999 and they married in 2001. He obtained a Teaching Certificate and began working for a Diploma in Early Childhood Education. During these years, he often slept just two hours a night. When he graduated from the program in 2007, he was given the position as the Head Teacher at Mikoroshoni Primary School.
Joshua started a church in 2002, the Zion Celebration Centre, which he still leads as pastor. When members of the UK Staffordshire Girl Guides visited the church in 2005, they were inspired to raise the funds necessary to buy a piece of land and build a new church, where the congregation continues to meet today. Friends in the UK, the Brookers, offered to sponsor Joshua through university, making Joshua the first member of his extended family to ever see the inside of a university classroom.
Since 2005, Joshua has continued to teach and pastor while also earning Second Class Honors in his degree in Early Childhood and Primary Education from Moi University in 2015.
The Lord has greatly blessed Joshua, and in turn, Joshua continues to bless Mikoroshoni Primary School and his community. His passion for serving, which grew out of a childhood marked by innumerable challenges and hardships, has only grown stronger.