After 11 years of marriage, Pastor Sunday Masiga, 36, and his wife, Eva Masiga, 33, confess it was only until this year that they started enjoying their marriage. Being a pastoral couple, they shatter the myth that pastors’ marriages are made in heaven and confirm that just like any other marriage they take an incredible amount of work to flourish. They speak to ESTHER AKELLO on the challenges they have faced and how they landed on a working formula that has enabled them to move forward.
At what point did your paths cross given you both grew up in different parts of the country?
Sunday: While I grew up in Kakamega, I later on moved to Nairobi to live with my elder brother. Once in the city, I led a life of crime and it was through my brother’s intervention that I gave my life to Christ. I then started going on evangelistic missions with several churches to different parts of the country and that is how I ended up meeting Eva in Nyeri, her home county. Although we never interacted, I knew she was the one when I saw her and sent an emissary to arrange a meeting with her.
How did that sit with you Eva?
Eva: I had seen Sunday preach so I knew about him. Additionally, I had always told my family that I wanted to marry a pastor. When he sent an emissary seeking my audience, I thought God had revealed something (bad) about me to him so
I was nervous. I nonetheless agreed to meet him in a café. I was shocked when he blatantly asked me to marry him. You didn’t waste time Sunday?
Sunday: I went straight to the point and was prepared for whatever answer she would give me. I remember she was drinking tea when I proposed; that teacup shook for quite a while!
Eva: (Laughing), I told him to give me two weeks to think about it. A few days later he came back and asked if I had made up my mind!
Sunday: (Laughing) I couldn’t wait that long!
Eva: I had my own fears such as how we would jell especially culturally since he is Luhya and I am Kikuyu. There were some skeptics too from my family but when I made up my mind, they accepted him.
Did living as a married couple come easy?
Sunday: Hardly! We fell out with my bishop after Eva’s family suggested another preacher officiate our wedding in Nyeri. When we came back, I found out the bishop had fired me and ordered the church to take away all the things they had donated to me.
Eva: I was shocked. I was moving into an empty house! They were literally picking household items in front of our eyes. There was also no turning back from the situation as we were already married! That must have been a horrible experience!
Sunday: I had to think quickly. I called some of my friends in the ministry and one of them from the Assemblies of God churches invited me to stay with him in Kitale. We stayed with him and his wife for six months before he opened a branch of the church in Chwele, Bungoma and asked me to lead the congregation.
Eva: It was a difficult time. I was traumatised to be honest. We were newly married and trying to learn each other but the environment did not allow us. I never thought life would be so hard! When we moved to Chwele, we counted it as a blessing although we moved into the house with nothing but a bed!
How were you surviving?
Sunday: (Laughing) We preached like never before!
Eva: The church paid our rent. The rest we had to do on our own or depend on the congregation to chip in. However, that was not enough and our first-born daughter, Blessed, was affected adversely as she was not hitting her milestones. We decided to relocate back to Nairobi where we again moved into another pastor’s house. We didn’t get the opportunity to jell as a couple.
Sunday: Three months after moving to Nairobi, my wife challenged me to open my own church, which I did in 2011. In between, I did menial jobs like working at a construction site just to survive. I also went to driving school because at some point family and friends started doubting if I was really called to be a pastor. We also realised that we could not depend on the congregation for our upkeep because it not only strained the church, but our marriage as well. So we started doing business. We hope to start farming in 2017.
Apart from finances, what other issues caused friction between the two of you?
Sunday: Growing up with parents who had separated, I spent most of my time with my father. He was abusive and I picked that trait from him. I could easily become bitter and temperamental and would break things. I was finally able to keep a tight rein on it.
Eva: My parents also separated and I grew up surrounded by girls. I have no brothers. My father’s abusive nature affected my view of men and I thought most, if not all, were like that. It took me a long while to be vulnerable with my husband and to be honest; it’s something I’m still working on.
Sunday: Eva’s shyness was also a big issue. She did not embrace her authority as a wife and partner easily and therefore would never call me out when I was wrong and there were times I was.
Eva: I always viewed my husband as a pastor, a man of God. When we got married, I never understood what being a wife entailed and more so how I was supposed to respond to being a pastor’s wife.
How has your church ministry affected your marriage?
Sunday: Growing up disenfranchised, poor and bitter, I never had time for ladies because I thought I was not good enough for them. Therefore, I never knew what it meant to have female attention and Eva was also not the type to lay on the platitudes. When the church began taking off, the attention from the ladies grew exponentially and I revelled in it.
Eva: (Incredulously) He would sometimes innocently show me some of those texts, thinking it was funny! He never knew that triggered my low self-esteem and made me so insecure. Some of those church women pretended to be my friends! When I couldn’t take the misery any longer, I told him off. I also confronted the ladies who responded by saying I was not good enough for my husband.
How did you overcome this?
Sunday: I realised that my marriage was my first ministry and I started working on it accordingly. When Eva started complaining of ulcers, I immediately knew it was stress related so I closed the church for two years so we could get some time alone.
Eva: A lot of ladies see pastors as easy targets. Pastors should take pride in their wives as this ensures that everyone knows they are a no-go zone. So many pastors fall into the trap of infidelity while their wives just watch because they do not have a voice to condemn bad behaviour. Some things are not prayer items, just common sense.
Sunday: We were in our seventh year of marriage when Eva confronted me the first time. It took me by surprise. I love my wife and will sacrifice anything for her so when she said I put boundaries in place, I immediately cut the ladies off. When were you finally able to jell?
Sunday: This year. I can now honestly say we are married. How do you balance your relationship, ministry and personal interests? Sunday: I understand Eva’s weaknesses and strengths and I complement and supplement accordingly. For instance, she is not so good or fast when it comes to some house chores so we share out responsibilities. I help out with the laundry, clean the house and cook even if the house help is around. Women are human beings and when overworked they will simply sleep and that can affect the intimacy side of things. That is why I help her out. I have also mentored teams in church so that we do not have to shoulder everything. When we want some alone time, we organise missions out of town and use that time to bond.
Eva: I’m an introvert and often times Sunday is the one who keeps me company so we are really good friends. My husband has also taught me how to find my voice. He challenged me to practice public speaking and I can now even preach!
Sunday: People often forget a pastor is part of a family unit. Someone will buy you shoes or a suit and never remember that the pastor has a wife and children. That has prompted me to speak in a lot of churches on how to bless the pastor as a family unit, and not as an individual.
Being church leaders, do you put pressure on your children to lead saintly lives?
Sunday: Our first role is to be mentors, so we lead by example. We expose them to the church and that is it. We do not force the church on them and ultimately it is their decision. We do, however, raise them with Christian values. We do spank them when they grossly misbehave but often times; we talk to them when they go wrong.
Eva: We also teach them to accept the good times with the bad because life is unpredictable. We are also good friends. The girls – Blessed Wanjiku Sunday, 11, and Grace Favour Sunday, 5 – tend to favour their father’s company more than mine. Our son, Manasseh Masiga Sunday, 9, likes to hang out with me. What would you advise other married couples especially pastors?
Sunday: Do not marry your church. Marry your wife and look after her. Satisfy each other’s needs and the church will flourish.
Eva: Put boundaries in place. Spend quality time with your family and spouse and take some time out to enjoy each other’s company. How you spend your days will also affect how you spend your nights and many days to come. firstname.lastname@example.org
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