E-lert - December 2011

Faithfulness in Ministry award: Peter Ndungu

God's voice led the Rev. Peter Ndungu, '05, from the streets of Nairobi to Como Avenue and back to Ngong Road, a winding road near Kenya's capital city.

This February, he will return to the Luther Seminary campus to receive one of the Faithfulness in Ministry Cross awards at Luther Seminary's Mid-Winter Convocation.

"Pastor Peter is an incarnation of the spirit of Luther Seminary's dedication to shape leaders for the sake of God's world," said the Rev. Susan Tjornehoj, current M.Th. CML student and an '83 M.Div. graduate, who served as Ndungu's pastor at Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill during his years as a Luther student.

Orphaned at age 11, Ndungu grew up in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, widely considered one of the poorest areas in the world. In facing the challenges of mere survival as a child, Ndungu visited a Lutheran church in Nairobi for its simple offering of daily lunch.

He quickly built a relationship with the pastor and received a World Vision grant to attend school.

With the pastor's encouragement and ongoing support, Ndungu eventually attended seminary in Kenya and became a Lutheran pastor himself. In the mid-2000s, his home church in Kenya sent him to Luther Seminary to earn an M.A. degree in pastoral care and counseling with a concentration in reconciliation.

Today Ndungu serves as executive director of Ngong Road Children's Association, a Kenya-based organization that provides education and support for Nairobi's children. The program particularly tends to children living in poverty whose families are affected by HIV/AIDS.

"Pastor Ndungu's heart is there among his people and abandoned, orphaned children," Tjornehoj said. "He is a tireless worker for reconciliation and justice."

Through his organization's United States counterpart program, Friends of Ngong Road, donors in the United States sponsor education for children in Nairobi.

"Peter's dream has become the dream of hundreds of families—in Kenya and the United States," said Friends of Ngong Road board member Karen Bohn, "who are joining hands across the ocean to ensure that these children will have a chance at a more secure and productive future."