I have always been a cynic whenever it comes to churches and ministries, especially these new age/pentecostal churches that seem to revolve more around signs, wonders, certain doctrines and the individuals who head the church as opposed to the Bible.
I had the good fortune or should I say misfortune of working for one run by a Dutchman.I am sure those of you who were in Kenya in late 2004 onwards heard of a church that was mainly ministering to prostitutes and street people in Nairobi.
The church used to meet at the Grand Regency and then moved to the 680 hotel for its weekly meetings that were held every Saturday night.Saturday nights were chosen as they were convienient for the girls, they could get ministered to and then continue with their whoring uninterrupted.
Well the head honcho of the company hired me and some other people to set up a portal.The idea that he had sounded very good on paper and he even went to the States where he got an endorsement from Jesse Duplantiss that you can see here and From Pastor Lai (the guy in Mombasa who has the very large church) see here.But the problem was that he seemed to had bitten off more then he could chew.
The whole concept would be like lets say MSN but much larger and the content of the articles would be family oriented/christian.Yes that sounds good, so writers were hired and were expected to do 6 articles a day.I kid you not!6 articles per day!I am sure we have seen how writers who churn out on article per week ie Oyunga Pala often have writers block and these people were expecting 6 articles per day!Of course some people tried to write them but in the end resorted to cut copy and paste!
I was part of the web design and graphic department.Our job was to do the different websites that would fall under the main site.The worst thing about this job is that the head honcho would not listen to the opinions of the designers and the html people (me and my colleagues).To add insult to injury we used to be made to re-do and scrap work so many times!A website would often have a life span of two or three days after you tweak it due to changes being recommended by the head honcho and his yes men.And then at the end of the day he would see something interesting on the net and that would mean the end of that and something new!
And of course a design had to be approved before we had the pleasure of turning it into html.So after having enough free time to delete spam from my email address and to chat to all my pals on yahoo msgr/msn, rack up over 100 posts on some forums or the required number so that I became a guru or was allowed to change avatars (yes I used to be that bored!) and that is when I began blogging.Imagine going to work and having to think of ways to keep busy as the higher ups will not give you any extra work (well I did want more work so I could be paid more!).As a result of having to sit 6-8 hours in front of a comp doing jack, my attention span was shot to hell.So the only way I keep busy nowadays is by doing two things at the same time.It is still apparent nowadays, this weekend I went to visit a pal and she asked me, "do you always do 2 things at the same time?"This is because I was using the laptop and watching tv at the same time!If I am only using the comp I usually have like 10 windows open!Anyway enough about my ADD!
Then the worst thing is come 5pm when the staff bus was coming to pick us, is when one of the yes men would run in with a design to be turned into a web page!Aaaaaaaargh!And then we would be taken home at midnight or later!But on the plus during the earlier days when suckers' money was flowing we used to be bought food from village market.The Thai food from Village Market rocks and so do the pizzas!One of those medium sized pizzas could feed you for 3 days and they tasted great, not like the flavoured pieces of cardboard sold here!
Oh did I fail to mention that we worked in Runda?Good thing there was a staff bus as the house we worked in was miles away from the main gate.But on the plus that ride gave me something to aspire to.You need to see the houses in Runda!My Lord!Veritable Castles and Villas!Runda is a good sight to motivate you to work or steal hard!Then again so is Muthaiga but that is a story for another day!
We used to work in this big ass house that had the insulation of a box.So it used to be strange to come from the heat of nai to freeze in a big empty ass house!Then these cheap Dutch folk did not provide lunch or a microwave to heat your packed lunch.But they did used to provide Britannia biscuits, milk powder, coffee and tea leaves.The first few days we being the enterprising young folk we were, many would not have breakfast at home as you had to be in town by 7.30am for the bus and would fall upon the bikkies first thing we got to the office.A box would be emptied at arrival and another by lunchtime.But the thing is that the taste of biscuits gets real old, real fast so the same people who used to eat 2 handfuls of brittanias were now eating 5 per day.But lucky for us, the money man who was also dutch had a personal assistant who would be sent on errands and we used to send her for fries (sarah ebu holla at a boy umepotea huko UK sana!), but her return times were erratic so you could find yourself eating fries and sausage from Kenchic (damn those greasy fries were good!) at 11 am or 3 pm!Then to counter the cold in the office Aco borrowed one of his mother's shawls that he would wrap around his legs to counter the heat (Shawls rock!).
Oh I have almost forgot, there were chics who were hired to do fashion designs.Their target was 20 fashions each by the end of the day.All they had to do was draw pictures.They were told that materials and the rest of what they needed would be bought for them from India so they could start work. When we were talking this over with one of them, I made the observation that a design is nothing without a pattern and fabric samples (but what did those girls know?They were just designers!).
The strangest thing was that of the 8 or so dutch folk (The big man, his wife, brother in law + wife,his second in command + wife, his money man + wife, his dutch worship leader) is that they used to live and breathe their work and the church meetings!The furthest they used to go was Village Market and of course the once a week meetings at the 680. Other then that they never used to bother to travel or even know more about Nairobi or even bother to meet the other Dutch people in Nairobi!
One of the big Man's new ideas was to get a group of prostitutes, take them off the street, house them and their children and turn them into a singing group that would be flown around Europe to raise money for the battered women's shelter they were planning on putting up and other ministry activities.So a group of girls was chosen and the mansion across the road that shared the compound with the one we worked in was rented for them to live in.
These girls were given a small allowance and given singing lessons and bible study.That reminds me, there was this girl who was hired to write songs and record them with their funding.Well they took their time arranging for her to record so she was made to be writer (despite the fact that wasn't her field of expertise!). And then the shameless people that they are a few months later they asked her if she could be staying back to teach the girls how to sing!They wanted her to be doing that double work instead of just having her teach them from the oneset.
Working with these folk also did away with the oft held belief that white folk are more organised then us.These were the most disorganised people I have ever met!Every Saturday meeting was an excercise in chaos!The personal assistant to the money man used to tell them it would be easier if they started organising such things in advance but you know what the big man told her?"You africans dont know how to think fast that is why you have to start organising early" or something like that, it isnt verbatim.
Ah, that reminds me one more time of how during the launch things were do disorganised that the big Man didnt have the proper shoes and some had to be bought at the neigbouring Bata.They hired this guy who used to organise events to be doing their events under the understanding that this was to be a full time job and after him doing two events they fired him.To make things worse he had gone on hiatus from his own business as this job was well paying.He was having none of this and brought his lawyer and they managed to come to an amicable arrangement.It was heart warming to see his story a few weeks back in the Nation, as his business seemed to be doing really well and he had even managed to put a 6 figure capital in it and it was paying good dividends at the time of the story's publication.Same thing happened to the chic who was the head of our department.She used to call things like they were and used to knock heads with the Big Man's second in command who used to veto many of her decisions, so push came to shove and she was shown the door; I too used to think she was hard headed but she used to be fair so I think that decision was uncalled for.She went into business for herself and last I heard she was doing really well.One of the workers in the IT section got a job offer that seemed more concrete (he was to be a lecturer at Daystar University), when he told them he was leaving they offered to double his pay, he refused so they offered to triple it but he did the wise thing and walked away.In hindsight it was a very very wise move on his part!
The way the employees were treated was really pathetic and those are not the only examples, that was when we knew that things were not as they seemed with this ministry.
Part 2 - Things fall apart....