Anthony Ng'ang'a, the Kenyan-born pastor in US army
It may sound odd to mention bibles and bullets in the same breath. But for Kenyan-born Anthony Ng’ang’a, a full-time pastor and part-time American soldier, it’s all in a day’s work.
As a soldier, Anthony is assigned to the Equipment Record Parts Specialist (ERPS) segment, but the Army Reserves has the right to place an M16 rifle in his hand and send him into battle.
He tells the Sunday Nation in a phone interview that his is a story of hope and resilience.
In March 2020, when Covid-19 hit most parts of the US hard, Anthony, the presiding pastor of a thriving congregation at Uwezo Gospel Church in Plano, Texas, took an unexpected decision.
His move was unimaginable for a man of the cloth as he enrolled in the US army. He got a pastor to cover for him and set sail on a daring voyage.
“I knew that there was no looking back once the training began because in case you back down, you could face a jail term. I knew it was a risk I was taking, but I braved it all. I was passionate and focused and I wasn’t ready to drop my pastoral tag. I still preach every weekend in different states, and have now visited over 16 states,” he says.
“I almost gave up at some point, but a jail term was the last thing I’d want. The training is so tough, it breaks you to make you. I managed to run two miles in 12 minutes against the expected 21 minutes. I was also very good with the M16 rifle as well as being able to throw two live grenades, among many other tasks. I passed them all and here I am,” says Anthony.
Born and brought up in Komothai, Kiambu County, Anthony recalls how his dream took form after his family sold some property for him to make his maiden trip to the US to further his studies at Beulah Heights University.
“I didn’t have sponsorship nor someone to host me, so I had the hardest time in the US. I ended up in a shelter for the homeless and had to ride a bicycle to and from school. I also landed a job at a gas station, which enabled me to foot my bills and pay school fees,” he says.
It’s during this time that Anthony ventured into writing – he has authored nine books. He graduated with honours and high praise years later.
Other achievements he had while at the university were member of Beta Eta Beta Kappa honour society for outstanding character and high scholastic achievement. He was also elected as the International Student Representative for the Student Government Association from 2014 to 2015.
In addition, he was awarded the Transformational Leader and Community Developer Award for outstanding community service both in Kenya and the US.
Despite these great milestones he had to juggle between menial jobs and taking a masters in divinity. Eventually, he couldn’t keep up and had to fly back to Kenya.
“Here I was in 2018 after an accident caused by overworking myself, then missing three flights back home. I was totally broken but I knew I had to pick myself up. I got myself an affordable place at Ruai where I opened a cyber café and also managed to buy a motorbike that I’d operate as a boda boda rider from 4am to 7am. I would then open the cyber café for the rest of the day,. This went on for two years until I landed a Green Card in December 2018 and my American dream was revived,” he recalls.
His passion for the pulpit still lay somewhere in his heart and after his ordination in 2019 at PCEA Baraka, together with like-minded believers, they split to set up Uwezo Gospel Church where he was a pastor until Covid-19 hit.
His passion for the collar has not been outweighed by the uniform, so he continues to skilfully juggle both.
“My dream is to be an army chaplain. I’m currently enrolled for a master’s in divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to make this dream a reality,” says Anthony.