Ex-KAF Major graduates in US


By Correspondent
Boston - Holding tight onto his unwavering vision for top education spanning many years with a goal to serve God more effectively, Retired Kenya Air Force Major and pastor, Rev. Major Francis Gikonyo has finally graduated with a Doctorate of Theology degree, assuming a new title of Rev. Dr. Major Francis Gikonyo.

The longtime Kenyan Diaspora clergyman based in Boston earned the new honours from the Andersonville Theological Seminary, Camilla, Georgia.
During a homecoming ceremony to celebrate the important milestone  Sunday July 27 in Cambridge, dozens of family, friends and fellow clergymen in the region turned up for the unique occasion following  the real graduation ceremony back on May 23rd in Albany, Georgia.
Guests congratulated Gikonyo for his remarkable ability to withstand multiple challenges towards the impressive achievement.
“ Rev. Dr. Major Gikonyo has dedicated himself to education for a very long time since when I knew him when he was serving as a soldier back home. This has taken away his time from family and friends so that he can achieve his goal in life. Now that he has graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Doctorate degree, I congratulate him very much together with his family that supported him along the way,” said Rev. Dr. Major (Ret) James Githitu, a fellow clergyman and former Kenya Army Chaplain.
 Githitu urged Gikonyo to use his newly acquired education wisely in service to God and man.
  “Whatever you receive as a gift, especially as a clergyman, is so as to serve others including God and man. Use your gift to strengthen the church,” added the pastor who is among the very first to plant Kenyan community churches in Boston.
Challenging other Kenyan men especially below the age of 60 to get some education to improve their lives in the Diaspora, Dr. Githitu said that it is very clear that Kenyan women are increasingly graduating more than their fellow opposites, a situation that is not reflecting very well in the community.

“Men are getting left behind by women. Many women are graduating with LPNs. Men need to go to the next level. Everybody needs to go to the next educational level than they currently are. Old Kenyans in their 60s and 70s can work as much as they need to but those below 60 needs to invest time in school,” he prodded.
According to Dr. Gikonyo, he set his sights at higher education many years ago while still serving in the Air force and finally, at age 72, he hit the highest mark in his preferred field of study.
“We must all achieve our destinies that God has made for us. God loves to be worshipped since he cannot worship Himself even after all the wonderful things He has created in this world. That is why he ended up creating man in order worship Him. I Thank God for this degree I have achieved and I will use the knowledge to help Worship God further,” said the father of 6 and grandfather of 11.

He thanked his family led by wife, Monica for supporting him throughout his demanding journey in college, and for organizing the homecoming party.
“Education has no end. Rev. Dr. Gikonyo has done his best and is now a role model to his children and to all of us,” said Venerable Peter Gachathi, pastor of the St. Paul’s Community church in Lawrence and chairman of the Kenyan American Pastors Fellowship.
“Let everyone strive to do their best as well,” added the pastor who in his mid 60s went to school at Boston University for a master’s program in theology.
Not one to be distracted easily, Dr. Gikonyo joined Kenya Airforce (KAF) as an Air Traffic Controller in 1973 where he served until KAF was disbanded following the attempted coup in 1982.
Due to his impeccable discipline, Gikonyo was retained into the newly created 82 Airforce that replaced the former Kenya Airforce.
It was during his tenure with the 82 Airforce that he first arrived in the USA to attend a training course at the Maxwell Air University in Montgomery Alabama after which he was promoted to the rank of a Major.
 Later on, in 1988, Gikonyo was honorably retired from the armed services after serving for 15 years.
During his retirement, the 82 Airforce was also disbanded and reinstated again as the Kenya Airforce. 
However, soon after retiring, Gikonyo then joined the Bishop Kariuki Bible College, Class of 1996 in Kenya for one year after which he became a deacon at the Anglican Church of Kenya, Mount Kenya South Diocese from 1997 to 1999.

He served several parishes in central Kenya where he was ordained as a priest in 1999.
 Gikonyo then migrated to the USA in 2,000 while on his way to attend to attend a son's wedding in Birmingham, Alabama.
 While on the visit, Dr. Gikonyo sought to attain more education by enrolling for theological studies at the South Eastern Bible College.
 He then received a two year scholarship at the Sanford University in Alabama for masters in Divinity degree. Unfortunately, the scholarship opportunity failed to pan out when the Diocesan authorities back in Kenya declined to endorse the scholarship documents for what Gikonyo termed as "unclear reasons".
In 2001, Dr. Gikonyo immigrated to the Boston region where he served briefly in the former St. Paul’s Anglican Church, the first Kenyan community church in Boston then located on Pearl Street in Malden.
However, at the time of his arrival, the St. Paul’s American Anglican church was in the middle of an upheaval that soon went out of control, leading to the collapse of the church.
Since then,  Gikonyo has served in various other Kenyan community churches as an elder and preacher on invitation basis as he delved into scholarly work.
 In 2010, he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Divinity followed by a Master’s Biblical Counseling from the same College in Georgia in 2012, before embarking on the final journey to the Doctorate degree.
During the celebration on Sunday, dozens of friends and family took turns to congratulate Gikonyo as they posed for photos to commemorate the unique achievement.
“He has achieved all this while we were still together. I have seen his difficult journey and now I have to say that we as a family are so proud of his achievement,” said Dr. Gikonyo’s wife Monica while thanking guests who graced the event.
As for the future, Gikonyo plans to establish the "Rest in Christ Ministry” to serve in the New England region where he can put his academic and theology skills into practice.
"We shall inform people as soon as the plans are complete," he told Ajabu Media.
Among other clergymen at the ceremony included Rev. Doctor Charles Karanja of PEFA in Malden, Venerable Samuel Kimohu and Rev. Leonard Ngarama, both of the St. Stephens church Lowell, Rev. George Mbugua (Father George) and Rev. Jamleck Kimani of ICG church Lowell.