Here are some excerpts from an interview with Fred Outa, Kenyan member of parliament [for the Biola University Magazine—hence the promotional angle]. Outa earned an MA from Biola University in 2002, and originally returned to his native Kenya in order to do missionary work, church ministry, and agricultural service back in Africa, but eventually decided to run for elected office at the urging of his community (2007).:
. . . When my father died, I was out on the street just like the “street kids.” Life was hard. Food was scarce. I learned the hardship of poverty, the need for education and the struggle to keep warm and to eat. I made it a vow to rise above this and one day come back and serve these kids. That hope led me to the U.S., with the loving help of an American couple, to Biola, and now back here in Kenya serving with my own foundation (www.fredoutafoundation.org), serving the people of my nation, and serving the Lord. My memory of my father reminds me everyday to help the poor, to open the doors of my home – which my wife and I have done for many orphaned children – and to keep Christ above culture.
Why the switch from missionary to parliament? What did God do that brought you here to this parliament building?
Mark, it’s people, it’s people, it’s people and it’s people. I had no clue at all that I would be in politics. I never thought about it; all my life I had prepared to be a missionary, just a simple missionary – a servant who was reaching out to a community. And yet one thing I learned at Biola was entrepreneurship: how important micro-finance is to every community, to reach out to a community to empower them to eradicate poverty so they will have the opportunity to hear the gospel. Those components of training were very real and people were in need. They needed to be given the opportunity to do something to improve their lives. So when I came here, my people approached me, my community in Kisumu. And they said, “Hey, since now you are coming from the U.S., why don’t you help us with rice production, which is being mismanaged by the government?”
I had no clue how to help, except for the micro-financing Biola taught me. We started a rice project on a very small scale. After one year, I had seen God’s hand on the little money we had earned, and things began to multiply – from 100 acres to 500 acres and the next year from 500 to 2,000 acres of production. As the rice production expanded in the area, it was touching individual lives by putting food on the table for families, and also bringing money to families to send their kids to school. That is where God helped me see the connection between leadership and politics, because the community had experienced bad leadership. They wanted someone to lead them that they could trust, and by living and serving among the people, they came to me. Not just a few, but the whole community came to me and shouted, “Send him to parliament!” . . .
[Details of running for parliament and responding to the initial violence] . . . Once, I was a missionary; now I was once again building peace in my own nation.