As he hung by one hand from a balcony railing five floors above a Nairobi slum, a suicidal young Kenyan gangster received a phone call which saved his life and set him on a path to salvation.

Ken had grappled with poverty and broken family relationships from an early age and by his mid-teens was seeking the company of violent gang members to achieve the sense of belonging he could not find elsewhere.

His life had taken a dangerous turn. His new gangster friends made their living from armed robbery, and twice Ken found himself engaged in shootouts with police.

Both times he was almost the only survivor of gunfights which saw other gang members killed in a hail of bullets.

But instead of relief at having been spared, Ken felt overpowering guilt.

As police dragged his friends’ dead bodies away from the scene of the second shootout, he asked himself why he was still alive. His friends were dead. He should be, too. He’d somehow let them down.

The guilt preyed on his mind for days, until finally he decided he would join his friends in death by throwing himself from the top of an apartment building where he had a small room.

However, he had reckoned without realising the power of God.

In another part of Nairobi, AE International Team Leader Stephen Mbogo, who had tried in vain to befriend and mentor Ken in earlier years, had been thinking for several days that he needed to make contact with the youngster again and try to re-establish the earlier relationship. He had a sudden urge to phone him.

It took him two days to find Ken’s phone number and then he made the call.

Meanwhile, at the top of the apartment building, Ken took what he thought was a last look at the city’s grey slums below and climbed over the balcony railing. He was ready to plunge to his death.

Then his phone rang. Freeing one hand from the railing, he reached into his pocket. The caller was Stephen.

Unaware at that point of the depths to which Ken had sunk, Stephen pleaded with Ken to come to a meeting so that he and others could show him how, with God’s help, he could turn his life around.

After much discussion, Ken agreed to give himself another chance and climbed back over the railing to safety.

In the weeks which followed, Ken underwent drug rehabilitation, mixed with other people of his age planning university study and made the decision to turn his life over to Christ.

He has now decided to become a preacher and is about to study for a degree in theology.

In a note he wrote about Ken’s life, his mentor had this to stay:

“Oh God, out of all the students, you chose the one in the dustbin for yourself. You emptied the trash can and got Ken out. He had been forgotten by all of us, all except You.”

Story written by Mike Heard, AE Volunteer.

* The very same Stephen Mbogo, AE International Team Leader & CEO, will be coming out to speak in Australia from April 29 – May 14. Register your interest here, if you’d like to be in contact with Stephen during this time.