For Kenyan immigrant Benson Karanja, the American dream is not a mirage. He says his transition from janitor to serving as the new president of Beula Heights Bible College in Atlanta, Georgia, is a dream come true.
Karanga no longer cleans and collects garbage at the college, as he did years ago. Today, he plans programs and makes decisions with wide implications for Africa. Karanja’s responsibilities include working with donors on development programs in several African countries. He says the secret of his success is hard work and a determination to overcome obstacles.
In an interview with English to Africa reporter Joana Mantey, he said, “Even though I was a janitor, I did that work without bitterness. I did that work in anticipation that this is just a bridge for me to cross over to the other side.” After earning his first degree, Karanja worked elsewhere in other positions as teacher and librarian. Then he pursued a doctoral program, which paved the way for his eventual appointment as president of Beula Heights Bible College.
He describes his new status as humbling. At first, he says, he was afraid there would be speculation about how well he could handle the job. “However something hit me and told me you are not going to walk in [someone else’s] shoes, and that gave me peace. I’ve got to do what God wants me to do and what the college requires me to do.”
His vision for the college, which has 650 students from 32 countries, is to build committed leaders with a passion for helping youth in poor communities. In Kenya, the college is working to build a hospital, television station and the Presbyterian University of East Africa. It’s also helping to establish a community center in Cape Town, South Africa.