Dennis Kiprop Kurgat: A catalyst for positive change
My Background Story
I grew up in Eldoret, close to the Ilula Training Center in Kenya. I come from a family of six kids: three boys, three girls, and I am the firstborn. The first 15 years of my life were relatively stable with steady income from the family farm. My Dad had a good job too. I didn’t know what it meant to be poor materially. My life took a dramatic turn in the year 2000 when I lost my dad to alcohol and diabetes at age 46. We as a family not only suffered the terrible loss of our father but also of income.
The family farm was impossible to maintain. At the time, I was at a boarding school high school about 30 miles from home (boarding school is very common in Kenya). My mom could no longer afford transportation to and from school so I walked the 30 mile trek. I often pondered along the way why life had to be so hard on me. I grew up as a self-described “half-Christian.” My mom brought me to Sunday school but my Dad didn’t go to church at all. I learned about God but my personal relationship with Jesus was a foreign, underdeveloped concept. I was plagued by a lot of fear.
In September of 2003, my last year of High school, I heard a sermon on the “Transformation of the Mind” from Romans 12. At that point, the message helped me to understand God more and how God calls us to offer our body as a living sacrifice. This shift in perspective led me to make a personal decision to fully accept Jesus into my life on September 26, 2003. The journey of growing in relationship with Jesus began. I admit it wasn’t easy!
Next year after high school, I ask my mom to help me repair an old bike to start a boda-boda (bicycle taxi) business. Perhaps God utilized the 30 mile walks to prepare my legs for the boda-boda stint! I would ride about 40 miles per day ferrying clients to town, making about 300- 400 shillings ($3.50-$4.50).
Dennis finds joy in meeting with entrepreneurs like Grace, talking about her farm and business plan. He loves to drink chai everywhere he goes!
A few months later at age 19, I heard about construction for a new Children’s Home in Ilula. I tried to get a job but was turned down because they thought I was “just a kid.” I had been waiting over a year to get a permanent ID card proving I was eligible to work. I didn’t give up. I came back the next day and convinced the guys to let me work for a few hours. The few hours turned into three and half days that week. Each morning there was a devotional from Don Rogers or Samuel Teimuge or a visitor. I was inspired by their teaching and ached to learn more. Eventually, Empowering Lives International hired me for a six-month period to help make the roofs on the Children’s Home (pictured right).
One day I was on top of chimney working on the roof when Ezekiel, the construction foreman, said, “Hey Dennis! Can I talk with you?” The voice of fear echoed in my mind, “Oh no! What did I do? Are they going to fire me? Am I in trouble?” Ezekiel said, “I want you to help with inventory.” Even though I had no skill in this area, I readily agreed.
God used this time in my life to introduce me to my mentor, Samuel Teimuge. With daily devotions I started growing spiritually. My fear was replaced with Faith. Do you know how many times “do not fear” appears in the bible? 365 times! That’s the revelation I got. I realized God gives me an opportunity every single day to fight fear with strength, courage, and hope from God’s word.
A Catalyst for Positive Change
I began saving money through various entrepreneurial efforts for my college education. I attended the Kenya Institute of Management (a junior college) for three years to study management. I graduated with baccalaureate degree December of 2007. September 2009, I began my undergraduate studies at Moi University Business School. I officially graduated in 2014! Currently I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Strategic Management at the same school.
In 2008, I was introduced to Spirit in Action (SIA) by Samuel. I have witnessed families being transformed by the grants they receive from SIA. Small businesses have started and families are able to have three meals a day, which wasn’t true before. I have been a SIA Small Business Fund Coordinator since, and last year I was invited to be on the SIA African Advisory Board.
(Dennis is pictured above with Tanya and Canaan from Malawi.)
I owe a lot to all SIA team, our founder Del, Tanya, Samuel, Our Beloved Barbara, and the African Board. They’ve all consistently encouraged and cultivated a spirit of gratitude and networking.
I am inspired to be a catalyst for positive change. It’s so beautiful when you see social and economic justice prevail in the world and you are part of it.
My drive is discipline and determination are to finish the course I am called to. God has called us to a higher agenda. Now I am willing to share my knowledge to empower others. God is my foundation, and I make a daily commitment to share my experience, strength, and hope with others for holistic transformation.
….is to see every struggling home in Kenya live a sustainable life that honor God.