In Remembrance of Stephen Mutuku Sesi (28 July 1958-3 November 2011)

BY ccrossley | 9 December 2011 |
Dr Stephen Sesi

We sadly record the passing of a member of the Langham FLS family, Dr. Stephen Sesi who died on Thursday, November 3rd in Houston, Texas, USA, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Stephen was born in a non-Christian home, but through the witness of his mother, who became a Christian in 1966, he eventually gave his life to Jesus Christ. He grew up in Coast Province, Kenya, where he had many Muslim neighbors. From those days grew his concern to make the church a better witness to its Muslim neighbors, and this became the later focus of his research, writing, and teaching. Dr David Kasali, then the Vice-Chancellor of Nairobi Evangelical

Graduate School of Theology, commended Stephen to JSM (FACT) for further training in the field of intercultural and theological studies. On his scholarship application form Stephen set out his vision as being “to train evangelists, missionaries and church leaders to reach Muslims in Africa effectively.” This vision he was able to fulfill in his later ministry. He undertook a PhD program at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA, between 1997 and 2003, and received a doctorate in Islamic Studies. The topic of his dissertation was prayer among the Digo Muslims of Kenya and its implications for Christian witness. This was later published as African Worldview Change: the Case of the Digo of Kenya, (VDM Verlag, 2009). After graduation he became a professor of Islam at NEGST, now Africa International University. Stephen also recently contributed two chapters on ethnic conflicts and ethnic realities to a seminal book, African Missiology: Contributions of Contemporary Thought (Uzima, Kenya, 2009), co-authored with other staff at NEGST, including his wife Josephine.

Meritt Sawyer, formerly International Programme Director of the Langham Scholarship Programme, recalls Stephen’s time as a PhD scholar at Fuller:

‘I remember Stephen as a man who was passionate about the inbreaking of the Kingdom and he demonstrated this with his entire being. Every conversation between us over his five years in the U.S. (and there were many) was laced with his passion to train pastors for fruitful, contextual outreach to the Muslim community he knew so well. Coupled with his winsome smile and frequent jokes, his heartfelt conviction was imprinted on us as he and Josephine helped us to understand !frican realities.’

Stephen’s compassion was demonstrated when with his wife Josephine he founded a ministry among vulnerable and abandoned children in his home province. Makombe Children’s Home now cares for 55 children. Stephen was a member and ordained minister of the Africa Inland Church, one of the largest denominations in Kenya. He was a strong leader within the church, particularly in his home province.

Stephen was married to Dr. Josephine Katile Mutuku of Africa International University, and was father to James (Daystar University), Judah and Jesse of US International University in Kenya. A family man first and foremost, Stephen Sesi loved dearly his wife and sons, encouraging them to nurture the gifts that God had given them. He encouraged his wife to also pursue her doctoral studies so that they could become true partners in ministry. He had a keen sense of humor and his warm smile and larger-than-life charisma welcomed everybody into his presence. He will be deeply missed by his friends, colleagues, his family, and especially by his sons and wife.

Memorial services for Stephen were held on Saturday, November 12 at Crosspoint Church in Bellaire, Texas, and Africa International University, Nairobi, on Thursday 17 November, before a burial service near his family home in Kenya on Friday 18 November.