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Deaf preacher with gifted hands

Posted by Administrator on January 17, 2012

”]Boniface Okutoyi at his carpentry shop. Initially, he used his disability as an excuse to engage in crime, but now he is exploiting his talent for the good of others. [Photos: Kevin Tunoi/Standard]Boniface Okutoyi has an option of picking a tin, sitting at a strategic corner in one of the Eldoret streets and asking for alms.

But the 34-year-old, who is deaf, will not walk that path. Instead he goes out of his way to help needy Kenyans.

For example, during last year’s ‘Kenyans for Kenya’ initiative, Okutoyi joined a group of well-wishers to collect food which they distributed to hungry residents of Pokot County.

When there is no such cause, he regularly identifies less fortunate people and uses his own resources to help them. To him, giving is a virtue.

When he rose above his disability, Okutoyi says God has uplifted him to a status he never thought he would get to.

He is today a pastor and counsellor, preaching to the able-bodied and disabled people. He is also a talented carpenter who runs his own workshop in Uasin Gishu County.

“Due to the stigma associated with disabled people, I found staying at home in Butere difficult and finally ran away. That was in 1996 and I became a street boy in Eldoret,” he explains his life story.

Being away from his family and anyone he was answerable to, Okutoyi found himself picking bad behaviour in the streets.

“I started engaging in crime, alcoholism and smoking as well as sniffing glue. When I was drunk, I was the one relied on to beat up people in the streets when they refused to co-operate with us,” says Okutoyi, through an interpreter, Dickens Owade.

Back then, he was unaware he had talent that would change many people and resigned to his fate, believing society had no place and time for disabled people like him.

“If you would have told me then that I would become a sought-after pastor and talented carpenter, I would have probably beaten you up for deceiving me.”

When he was sinking into the depths of the underworld, Okutoyi met Pastor Albert Nasiali who encouraged him to quit street life.

Nasiali says God used him as vessel to reach Okutoyi. “I didn’t know it was his time, the time he was about to turn his life around,” says Nasiali.

Quit street life

In the year 2000, Okutoyi returned to Pastor Nasiali who headed a church in Kidiwa, Eldoret town, and sought salvation.

“I quit street life and decided to lead a clean life. I haven’t looked back,” says Okutoyi.

Nasiali and other well-wishers immediately enrolled him in a vocational training institute in Eldoret where he learnt carpentry, welding and masonry.

Today, he is a role model to many.

Beautiful products

Five years later, Okutoyi started his carpentry work in Eldoret town and word spread across ridges about the beauty of his products.

“People did not believe that a deaf person would produce such masterpieces. Some even came to just watch me make the furniture from scratch to believe that indeed I had moulded them,” he says.

Okutoyi’s sofa sets, dining tables, school chairs and desks, wall units, wardrobes, stools and beds fetch him a good income.

It is not hard for him to communicate with his clients and grasp exactly what they want him to do for them.

“An interpreter makes it easy. Also, some customers use a ‘little’ sign language which I understand. With others, we write down what we want to express. I am used to it,” he says.

While we are still at the workshop in Ainabkoi, a teacher comes to check progress of his sofa set which Okutoyi is making at Sh30,000.

Eunice Rop believed in Okutoyi’s dream of becoming a preacher and learnt sign language to be his interpreter.

“Whenever he is called to preach, we accompany him and interpret for him. He touches people’s lives with his ministry despite his handicap and we thank God for him,” says Rop.

We met him and Rop preaching at Kessup Girls’ High School in Keiyo North District. Rop is also the school’s Christian Union patron.

“She and others like Jack Chelagat and his wife understand me and my messages. Apart from interpreting for me, they also support my ministry,” says Okutoyi, who is unmarried as he is waiting “upon God to give me a good wife”.

SOURCE: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000050242&cid=4

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One Response to “Deaf preacher with gifted hands”

  1. pops said

    Can someone send this to the Kenyan-US Pastors.

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