Life found at the brink of death

Joseph Kimani
Joseph Kimani

Former criminal and drug addict Joseph Nguata Kimani of Kenya came alive on the day he thought he was going to die.

At the age of 20, Joseph and other "gangsters" would roam the streets of Nairobi, resorting to mugging and beating people to feed their drug addiction.

Living at the expense of the people around him, Joseph smoked marijuana and khat, a local plant-based amphetamine, and admits, "I was constantly out of my mind."

A surprise failed robbery involving a young couple and near death experience served as a reality check for Joseph causing him to reevaluate his life.

Before sunrise two of his friends attacked a man so Joseph could steal his girlfriend's purse.

"The reality in the ghetto is that it is the poor robbing the poor," he explains.

"I even left her about 100 shillings (1.25 dollars), so they could still catch the bus. Not out of any kindness, though, as I hoped they would come back this way again so we could rob them once more!" Joseph admits.

However things did not go according to plan as the other two muggers struggled to control the young man.

"I intervened and in the process the boyfriend grabbed me in a wrestling hold. My two 'friends' ran off."

Onlookers, including local security guards, approached the scene and began beating Joseph violently.

"I was hit from behind by an iron bar and hit in the front of the head with a machete. Blood poured from me as I fell to the ground, yet the crowd continued to beat me," he recalls.

"I thought I was going to die."

The end finally seemed to come when Joseph saw a man lift a rock over his head, and he thought the crowd must have decided to kill him "like a dying dog".

"I saw him approach with the rock, and at the last second, I remember asking God for help."

Suddenly able to gather up enough strength, Joseph rose to his feet, the stone hitting his shins instead of his chest.

"My legs snapped like brittle sticks," Joseph says. "The bones were protruding from the lower limbs. The rock would have crushed my chest if it had hit me. I was alive – just."

Joseph pleaded with the crowd to let him call his mother and say goodbye to her before he died. They allowed it, and she sprinted the four kilometres to where he was.

His grandmother, who had also been informed, began praying for him, and her pastor brought his car to the scene to pick Joseph up.

"My mother, my grandmother and the pastor came to my rescue – all at the same time," he says.

Having lost a lot of blood Joseph was immediately rushed to hospital.

There, he remembered how God had helped him when he was on the brink of death, and he spent time learning more about Him.

"During my stay in hospital, I gave my life to Jesus Christ," he says. "I knew God had given me a second chance."

After recovering from his injuries Joseph joined the Harvest of Hope Kenya Christian outreach drug and rehabilitation program for addicts (also called Uzima). He was delivered from drugs and alcohol and his life of crime stopped.

Within two years Joseph had become a staff member at the centre himself, feeling called to reach out to other addicts and criminals.

"Thanks to Jesus Christ, I am a new creation and no longer a drug addicted criminal," he says. "Thanks to Jesus, I am saved and heaven awaits me.

"Thanks to Jesus I am alive and not dead."

More about Joseph's work at

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