Ouma, Joshua Okello (1939- )

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Joshua Okello Ouma: herdsman, fisherman, evangelist, and bishop, was born 4 October 1939 in Alara village, Nyabisawa location, Nyanza province, Kenya, to Ouma Kenge and Kigocha (Magolo) Ouma. He was the seventh child among three daughters and seven sons. On 11 November 1964 he married Beldina Atieno Ogada; they had two daughters and three sons. Beldina died in January 1975. Joshua remarried Debora Adhiambo Ndege; they had four sons and three daughters.

In 1952 Joshua and Beldina Ouma moved five kms north to Korwa village in Nyabisawa. From 1963 to 1975 they lived in Tanzania, where Joshua worked as a clerk with the Tangold company, after working for a mining company for three months.

First a member of the Elim Missionary Assemblies (1967-1968), Joshua joined the Mennonite Church and served as an elder in the church (1968-1974). In 1974-1975 he studied at the Bukiroba Bible School, the Mennonite theological school in Tanzania.

In 1975 Joshua Okello Ouma returned to Kenya, where he served as church elder in the Nairobi Mennonite church (1975-1986). Here he worked with David Shenk, Jack Aoro, John Okanya, Justus Machango, and Dr. Patroba Ondiek. They established a church in Mbotela Estate, then the Eastleigh Fellowship Centre where Joshua served as pastor from 1983-1988, and as bishop from 1988 until his retirement in 2010.

Joshua Ouma experienced many challenges in Nairobi since there was not an adequate salary to care for his family’s needs. Despite this challenge, there was always tea for the guests who visited them. Many people lived with Joshua and his family during his service to the church. He mentored them to become servants of God with many of them becoming church elders, deacons, pastors, and bishops.

In 1986 Joshua and Debora Ouma moved back home to Migori, but Joshua continued to oversee the Nairobi church, and made occasional visits there to address the church’s needs. He did this until 1988 when he was ordained bishop in charge of southern Kenya. In the same year he moved to the mission center in Migori, 12 km east of Korwa.

Joshua Okello Ouma served as bishop for 22 years. While bishop, he was elected moderator of the Kenya Mennonite Church (KMC) in 2000, and served for four years. Working together with Philip Okeyo and Moses Otieno, he helped to unify the Kenya Mennonite Church which had been troubled by continued conflicts. During his term in office he also led a team of four KMC bishops to the USA for a month’s visit.

Joshua Okello Ouma also served as treasurer of the Kenya Mennonite Church (1977-1982) and as representative to the Mennonite World Conference Executive Council (1990, 1993 and 2003-2009). He served on the KMC Board of Trustees from 2005-2012. He was the first Kenyan Mennonite bishop to ordain an American to become a pastor–Clair and Beth Good.

Before and after his retirement Joshua Okello Ouma participated in many community programs and helped to establish the Nyabisawa Girls Secondary School, as well as the Korwa Primary and Secondary School. After retirement he went into farming and ministering in the Korwa church.


Ojwang’, Francis S., ed. Forward in faith: History of the Kenya Mennonite Church: a seventy-year journey, 1942-2012. Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya Mennonite Church, 2015.

Author(s) Francis S Ojwang'
Date Published December 2017

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MLA style

Ojwang', Francis S. "Ouma, Joshua Okello (1939- )." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. December 2017. Web. 12 May 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Ouma,_Joshua_Okello_(1939-_)&oldid=161453.

APA style

Ojwang', Francis S. (December 2017). Ouma, Joshua Okello (1939- ). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 12 May 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Ouma,_Joshua_Okello_(1939-_)&oldid=161453.

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