Grace Wanjiku has had more struggles in her 38 years than many people will encounter in a lifetime. Experiencing family separation at an early age and rape as a young adult, Wanjiku had multiple reasons to turn away from God. Instead, she ran toward Him.
The parents of the native Kenyan split up, forcing her to live with extended family at the age of 5. A few years later, Grace and her two younger sisters moved into separate households.
Rearing duties fell mainly to Wanjiku’s grandmother, who, though a Christian, didn’t model a daily walk with Jesus for the girl. She found the Christian faith to be mostly about obeying rules.
“I didn’t know what it is actually until I gave my life to Christ,” she says.
When she was 24, Wanjiku’s father died in the midst of political upheaval. Four years later, her then-boyfriend raped her.
She experienced a tremendous amount of shame following the assault. Wanjiku sank into depression with suicidal thoughts.
“Following the assault, my abuser started stalking me, sending threatening messages, and showing up at my place of work,” Wanjiku recalls.
Fearing that her family members, due to cultural norms, would not accept the evil done to her as sexual assault, Wanjiku just shared what happened with a close friend named Triza, who prayed for her on a regular basis. Only recently, a decade after the attack, has she begun to share her story with anyone else.
Triza encouraged her not to stay isolated and often invited Wanjiku to stay with her. Wanjiku says such contact with friends is an important aspect of the healing process for victims of sexual assault.
“I didn’t have a purpose, neither did I see a reason to live,” Wanjiku says. “I thank God for community and family.”
Triza invited her to church, and at the age of 30, Wanjiku gave her life to Christ. Hearing accounts of other women who had gone through similar traumas and recovered encouraged her. Wanjiku had faith that the Lord could turn her life around as well.
Who am I not to trust in Him, that He can actually heal me? she thought at the time.
Wanjiku quickly became involved in her local church. In 2019, she felt the Lord calling her to attend Northpoint Bible College in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Due to COVID-19, Wanjiku’s relocation plans were delayed, but she began her bachelor’s degree in the spring semester of 2021 and is now majoring in pastoral leadership.
Since moving for school, Wanjiku has become involved in Hope Church, an Assemblies of God congregation. Loralie A. Crabtree is the lead church planter.
Crabtree attests that Wanjiku has been a blessing to the church in North Andover, volunteering in the nursery and joining the preaching team. Wanjiku recently preached her first sermon.
In preparation to preach, Wanjiku wrote out her testimony and let Crabtree read it.
“I was shocked because she carries herself with such composure,” says Crabtree, 56. “She really lives her name.”
Crabtree describes Wanjiku as faithful, kind, courteous, and loving.
“People feel like they’re with Jesus when they’re with Grace,” she says. “I fully anticipate a rich and fruitful ministry in the years to come.”
While Wanjiku isn’t sure what type of ministry the Lord will have her pursue after completing her education, she has considered children and family ministry, spurred on by her own experiences.
Even though she has faced adversity, there is no bitter tinge to Wanjiku’s voice as she describes her life; only sincere gratefulness for the steadfast love of God. She has overcome the notion that she in inadequate for ministry.
“Despite everything that I’ve been through, God has never disappointed me,” Wanjiku says. “He’s never left my side. I know He does hear and answer my prayers.”