What you need to know:
Stephen and Esther Kambuka chose to seek God regarding their relationship. This after he had chosen her, out of the three women in church he had in mind. Luckily, He answered their prayers and they have since sailed through a number of challenges including a strange illness and joblessness. Today, they tell the story of how He has been faithful through all this to Joan Salmon.
It was love at first sight for Stephen Kambuka, who ‘spotted’ Esther Biriike after fellowship at St Kakumba Chapel, Kyambogo University in December 2015.
“The evening was indeed amazing because I had not seen a very beautiful girl like her around our church. I meditated upon her looks for some time and later told myself to let go of such thoughts,” Kambuka says.
His work commitment outside Kampala meant Kambuka did not see Biriike for a long time. But that was good for him because he was still nursing a heart break that had led to great business financial losses thus little interest in dating.
However, in 2017, he was ready to date, specifically for marriage. He took this up in prayer.
There were three women from church in mind, Esther being one of them.
“Even then, I kept my wife (Biriike) far from being a friend because she is a ‘high class lady’ in almost everything and I feared to approach her lest I am outsmarted by another man with cash. Nevertheless, my heart pumped hard whenever I saw her,” he says.
Being a church boy, Kambuka, 29, chose to cram the days and times she appeared in church and adjusted his schedule to fit hers. Then in June 2017, he took a leap of faith to strategically sit on same seat she was on but at the extreme end.
“When service ended, I did not even make that last individual prayer we usually make because she always left church so fast and I did not want to miss her as I always had. Immediately she was done praying, the next thing she saw was me.”
Biriike remembers the incident – a jolly man that moved to her and with a big smile and asked her to become his friend. She immediately agreed to the proposal.
“Coincidentally, I had asked God, as service was closing, for the rightful man to come to my life. A voice spoke, assuring me that my husband-to-be was right before me. When Stephen came over, I knew God had confirmed him to be my husband. He continued to confirm our relationship for marriage in dreams and many other events. I embraced what God had chosen for me,” Biriike, 30, says.
After a month following the first meet, the two would bump into each other again. This time, Biriike left earlier than usual that Kambuka had to sprint to catch up with her.
“She left church so fast, I ran after her and then learned she was looking for a new house to rent. I knew it was my chance to talk to her so I told her I knew somewhere she could rent,” he says.
Accepting his offer, they talked and searched, unfortunately they did not get what suited her needs. With that, Kambuka offered to help out on any other day.
Getting to know each other
“I was glad that out of the help she enlisted, brokers inclusive, I helped her get what she needed. This gave me more happiness as it built a good bond between us that paved away for our courtship,” he adds.
Save the beauty and jolliness respectively, the Kambukas had more that drew them to each other.
“It was God because I felt it was hard to get women like her but l noticed some strong instincts in me such as desiring to protect her, every time l saw or thought about her. She also looked responsible with a great sense of humour; one I felt worthy of taking to my mother without a worry. She also loves the Lord so much and we were so quick to become compatible in our friendship.”
On the other hand, Biriike fell in love with him because of his character traits that demonstrated the love of God.
Before courtship, the two chose to seek God regarding their relationship.
“We engaged so much in going to the mountain every time we had time together to pray and fast to know God’s will for our relationship. I also got an opportunity to go back to school. However, this posed a challenge as we could not easily arrange for our functions for resources were now divided. We took it to God too, believing to get married even before I was done with school.”
They also went for outings using the time to learn each other’s likes and dislikes, and family backgrounds which was a way of doing spiritual mapping to deal with anything that could hinder their marriage.
Need to abstain
“The watching continued even into the marriage. We also had Bible study; sharing lessons learnt from each study via WhatsApp,” she says.
“We spoke about our dreams, expectations and aspirations such as the number of children we wanted, their names, the kind of businesses and life we wanted to have.”
While abstaining from sex is the hardest thing in many courtships, the couple did their best to seek God to give them the grace to overcome the urge. We managed this by making sure our meetings was either at the mountain for prayers or on pork dates.
The preparations for their wedding were good because they had sought God regarding the dates and lockdown or not, they were undeterred. No wonder, on informing their families about the dates, they received overwhelming support.
However, Kambuka came down with a strange illness.
“Shortly before the introduction, he got so sick that it took a lot of strength for him to attend the introduction on July 2, 2020. He took his vows at St Kakumba Chapel, Kyambogo University two days after the introduction while shivering,” she says.
Their entourage comprised only the best-man and matron.
Bariike says her husband lost his job, leaving without two-month pay.
“Thankfully, on the wedding day; July 4, 2020, he was paid,” she says.
One year in and the Kambukas have had to deal with this strange sickness (while they got a diagnosis, it was differing with every health facility; in one place, it was ulcers, then another low glucose levels, and then typhoid thus calling it strange).
“It was the most pressing challenge of all as it really cost us a lot; every time we visited hospital, the bill was huge. That hit their financial muscle hard yet there were already needs such as school and other basic needs. We also welcomed our first born in June so the responsibilities are quite huge,” she says.
Despite all that, they are thankful to God for making a way for them. For example, Bariike, immediately after the wedding, got a new and better job that helped them go on with life. They also met a Good Samaritan through Kambuka’s sister who offered them his residential house for six months as Stephen recovered from the sickness.
“When I got better, I got a job as assistant site manager to take care of the family. While things have not changed as much as we expected, we are hopeful that God will lead us to where we have dreamt to reach,” he says.
The other issue is lack of ample time to be together and talk as it used to be in courtship since both are students yet also working.
“It becomes hard to have time for outings that keeps our love high and up,” she says.
With all the happenings in their lives, the Kambukas have put all their needs to God in prayer to understand why things were progressing in that manner. “He has been faithful to reveal every spiritual battle and with sickness behind us, we believe God is surely delivering us and we shall overcome all battles because our faith is strongly anchored in God and His word.”
Young people with a passion for marriage should go ahead because marriage is good and is gifted by God. “Marriage that honours God is holy matrimony and in it, the husband receives His favour when he finds a good wife.”
Esther shares that dating should only be when one is ready for marriage. “Other than that, there is no need as it leads to a sexual relationship which does not please God.”
The Kambukas urge couples to try, by all means, especially in these end times where circumstances around us are so difficult, to live at peace with God and learn to do His will.