A Promise Made in Prison


A Kenyan police officer found himself on the wrong side of prison bars in 2010, arrested for a murder he didn’t commit three years prior.

When Kainga Oreste was arrested, his daughter was only two years old, and this twist in his life was the last thing he had expected.

“In 2007, we received information that there was a carjacking in our area, so three of us policemen went out to look for the carjacked vehicle. When we found it, we ordered the passengers to get out and surrender,” he says. “But one of the carjackers had a homemade gun with live ammunition. My colleague shot him, and he died on the spot.”

Initially praised for their actions, three years later Kainga and the other policemen were each charged with murder based on unclear reports related to the event.

“On June 16, 2010, I was arrested,” he says. “We don’t know what happened.”

Kainga’s days passed in prison surrounded by inmates whom he had put there himself. “For three years and six months I was in prison without having fired a single bullet,” he says.

But instead of becoming bitter while he was contained, Kainga studied theology, and then he began using his time of imprisonment to make an impact. During some of the most difficult years of his life — when he was separated from his wife and daughter — Kainga was learning how to lead like Jesus.

Kainga had become a believer in 1991, and, despite unimaginable trials, faith never lost its importance in his life. Eventually, he received a great honor for his faithfulness. “I was chosen to be deacon of the entire prison until I finished my sentence,” he says.

And blessed with his new position of leadership, he decided to commit his life to ministry. “I told God that if He takes me out of prison, I will go back to preach there. And that is how prison ministry started in my life.”

Kainga was released in 2013. “My daughter was five years old by then,” he says.

Now a free man and a deacon in his church, Kainga has remained true to the promise he made to God.

He leads ministries with men in prisons around Nairobi, and he has recently begun using Lead Like Jesus materials. “This year, 13 prisoners have accepted Jesus,” he reports. “Lead Like Jesus has changed my thinking because for the first time, I know that I am supposed to lead by example.”

He is eager to use his story to empower others, confident in his calling to lead prisoners to Jesus, and thankful for his freedom.

“My calling is to lead souls into the kingdom of light,” he says. “May God bless you as you hear my story.”