Pastor who used sports to spread gospel to the world

Solomon Gacece at the St Andrews PCEA church in Nairobi on July 4, 2013.

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

  • While there are many compelling reasons why every concerned parent should read this book, its accent on hard work stands out as a sure way of shielding young people from mischief.
  • The book offers practical guidance on the need for bodily physical fitness, captured in the acronym, FIT — frequency, intensity and time — for different individuals depending on their needs

Title: Ball Bible Bottlebrush

Author: Solomon Gacece

Published by: Christian Learning Materials Centre (CLMC), 2020

Pages: 192

Reviewer: Dorothy Kweyu

If it were not for the warmth radiated by the face of an athletic-looking man holding an open Bible in one hand and a ball in the other, the book Ball Bible Bottlebrush would struggle to catch a potential reader’s attention. Somehow, for me, the three-word title fails to capture attention.

That was until I made time to read the book, which the author Solomon Gacece — the long-serving and now retired chairman of the International Ecumenical Movement – Kenya Chapter — handed me, thanks to his knowledge of my inclination towards issues ecumenical.

It turns out the book perfectly demonstrates the adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.

Again on the cover: although Gacece hogs the author credit, it turns out that Ball Bible Bottlebrush is a ‘collabo’ — to use youth lingo — involving him, his wife Alice, and their children Gacoki Kipruto and Kiguthara Gacece.

It’s on the latter two that this review focuses since there’s only so much one can say in 700 words. By sheer accident or coincidence, Gacoki and Kiguthara’s letter that’s tucked away on page 187 — almost at the end of the book and as a mere appendix — speaks to our Covid-19 times.

The Gacece children, now parents in their own right, extol hard work, which debunks the weird myth that the prolonged stay at home by schoolchildren can only translate to teen pregnancies.

Weeding and harvesting

They write: “Involving us in the practical work in the house and on the farm helped us to understand the cycle of normal living. We learned to cook, bake and serve family and guests. We learned where vegetables and meat come from before they got to the market and shops.

We learned how to produce food by preparing the land, planting, weeding and harvesting , taking care of livestock, chicken and their eggs, tending domestic animals and even some butchering. We can handle slaughtering chickens and rabbits very well.”

As I read the poetic excerpt from the ‘Letter to our Parents’ that forms Appendix 3 of Ball Bible Bottlebrush, I couldn’t help thinking that this is just what the doctor ordered for Kenya’s hapless parents.

They are not only clueless on what to do with their children during the prolonged schools’ closure, but did I hear that a parent had sued Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha over the closure?

A former classmate recently commented in utter disbelief on the helplessness parents are displaying amid the ravages of the coronavirus vis-à-vis the much hyped teen pregnancies, with which they have become almost synonymous.

Staying at home need not equate to child delinquency. Children are born with brains to think and hands to work, and while the Gaceces could have shielded their growing children from work, they chose to teach them the dignity of work.

I shall quote my classmate insofar as her frustration brings to the fore the central message of Ball Bible Bottlebrush, namely keeping the youth busy, not just through sport, but also with good old hard work. She posed in a WhatsApp message: “I asked some whether these days babies are weaned (on] sex so that our only option is to help them either use contraceptives or help them get rid of the pregnancy if it happens”.

Spiritual guidance

While there are many compelling reasons why every concerned parent should read this book, its accent on hard work stands out as a sure way of shielding young people from mischief.

So, is the book just about Covid-19 and teen pregnancies? None of that. Ball Bible Bottlebrush is about the author, a retired Presbyterian Church Elder’s 30-year sports ministry, which saw him globe-trot at several Olympic and other international games, offering much-needed spiritual guidance to sportsmen and women, whose celebrity status tends to draw them into vices, including drug abuse, with fatal consequences.

The book offers practical guidance on the need for bodily physical fitness, captured in the acronym, FIT — frequency, intensity and time — for different individuals depending on their needs. “…it takes a healthy body to carry a healthy mind and spirit for successful ministry” he says, and I dare add, any successful undertaking.

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