TIME WITH DR. KENNEDY EDEM KUKUIA
Who is Dr Kennedy Edem Kukuia?
I am a Christian missionary, a husband to one wife (Faphy) and a father to two sons (Edem and Eyram). I am a Neuropharmacologist, a Pharmacist and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana School of Pharmacy. A little over three decades ago, I was born to a military officer dad and a trader mum. We lived in Burma camp for a while until my dad retired, after which we move to Nungua. I spent most of my life in Nungua until I got married. I am the last of four children (on my mother’s side), and had my basic education at the Weija Barracks Basic School. I completed basic school as the best student in my year-group and proceeded to Adisadel College. I was in the brilla team as well. At Adisadel College, I completed as the best science student in my year and applied for medicine in KNUST. For some reason I did not get to become the medical doctor I wanted to be. Strangely, my name was not on the list although I passed. So I decided I wasn’t going to go to school for a year, and then apply again. My mum decided against it. By then, my father had died. He died when I was 14. I got pharmacy, my second choice. After one year, I decided to continue with the course. What kept me there was the fact that I was in the first class range and not really because I liked pharmacy. It took me three years to begin to see what God was trying to do with my life with the Pharmacy education. Before then, I was furious because I thought I wasn’t given my preferred programme of study. In third year however, things began to change— I realized God had a plan for me all along. If I had done medicine, I probably would not have ended up where I needed to be. After I finished with my Pharmacy education in 2008, I went to Central University as one their first teaching assistants for the Pharmacy programme. I came back to KNUST in 2009 to start my Masters which by divine providence ended up as a PhD, and I graduated at 27. I joined the University of Ghana at the age of 28. By 30, I was a Senior Lecturer.
As far as ministry is concerned, I did not think I was going to be a preacher. I had an encounter with God in my first year of University and that became the turning point of my life. Before I entered KNUST, I met a man of God who gave me a prophecy. Up until now, everything he spoke about has happened. He told me about serving God and becoming a preacher. He even added that after my PhD programme, God would use me. So when I had the encounter with God in first year, I just knew that it was time for me to shift my focus to serve God.
While on campus, I met my wife. She started off as my ‘spiritual daughter’, became a friend, and later my wife. December 13th will be our fourth anniversary. It has been a wonderful life. I have been blessed to have had such a wife. She is also in ministry and so we work together. She is the mother of my two sons— Edem and Eyram.
What picture comes to mind when you think about integrity?
I would say wholeness, completeness, soundness, incorruptibility and purity. I think that you are looking at something being perfect, something being whole, something that has that quality of not being corruptible. It is what encompasses the person’s entire being.
There cannot be integrity without Christ Jesus. Everyone was born broken by sin. The one person that was broken in the place of our sin is the one that imparts incorruptibility. Until that being comes to live in us, we cannot have integrity. You can have people with high moral standards, but these people may end up corrupting themselves in the long run because what it takes for them to have that soundness, is absent.
You mentioned that integrity does not exist outside of Christ Jesus. What then does it mean to you when you find Christians compromising on their integrity?
When Jesus Christ comes into a man’s life, the person from the beginning is born as a child. That child has all the characteristics of a human being, but is unable to do a number of things like an adult can. The child needs to grow into the fullness of a mature man or woman. And so when people become believers, there are seeds that have been sown in them—seeds of integrity. However, these seeds need to be nurtured… they need to blossom and bear fruit. When that believer is not instructed in the ways of God and is not maturing, that believer can easily compromise on what they have as a nature. Nevertheless, as long as that believer is connected to God, and the grace of God is flowing into him/ her, that believer has the chance to grow integrity. It is just a matter of maturity.
With regards to integrity, does the end necessarily justify the means?
No. There is nothing like that. There are two scriptures that answer this question perfectly—the whole of Psalm 73 and Habbakuk 2. I will read from Habakkuk 2:12:
Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!
The scripture is very simple!
What has been the toughest test of integrity in your life and how did you overcome it?
While studying for my Masters, I bought my first car. It was not very expensive then. Someone who needed help sold his car to me. I did not have a driver’s license then and did not even know how to drive then, so it was strange to get the car. The car had some issues and it had to be taken to a mechanic for about a month. When the car had been fully fixed, I went to get it. I did not know the car insurance had expired. Someone, a church member, drove me there. On the way from the mechanic’s shop, we were stopped at a police barrier and questioned about the expired car insurance policy. The police officer was not taking any excuse from us. From all indications, he expected us to pay him a bribe.
And here I was, the CCF president, a child of God, with a member of my church. Would I have to pay the bribe or stand my ground and face the consequence? I was so confused. I said a quick prayer, and immediately remembered a friend whose father worked with the MTTU. I got his contact and called him. I explained the whole situation to him, letting him know that we were just coming from the mechanic’s shop and had no idea our car’s insurance policy had expired. He spoke to the police officer, and after evident frustration, he let us go. Even then, he wanted us to show some ‘appreciation’. I told him the little money we had left on us was meant to pay for the fuel that would eventually take us to our destination.
As we went ahead, the gentleman driving us commented on how he was watching me carefully to see what move I would make in that difficult situation. In that moment, I just whispered under my breath, ‘Thank you, God’.
Why is integrity so important to us as young Christians?
Let’s look at some scenarios in Scripture. The first test of integrity was in the garden, when Adam knew exactly what God had said, rejected it, and followed another voice.
Every evil we see around us was because one man failed in the test that was thrown at him as far as integrity was concerned. The life of Esau is another picture of where another man failed the integrity test. He sold out his birthright and decided to go for a bowl of food because he was hungry. By doing that, he did not only lose the right to the actual inheritance, but also lost the right to be a descendant of Messiah. When we fail in our test of integrity, it does not only affect us; generations after us suffer as well. Any time a young Christian fails in his or her call to uphold integrity, they are distorting God’s plans for their lives and the people who will come out of their loins.
Daniel and his friends stood for integrity and we saw the promotion that came to them. Standing for integrity can be difficult sometimes because it looks like you are standing alone. Sometimes you are thrown into jail not because you have done anything wrong, but because you are standing for the right thing. Nevertheless, in all of that, even if it does not happen on earth, you will not lose out in eternity. As far as we are concerned, there is more to the afterlife than the life here.
“We cannot talk about integrity without Jesus Christ. Everyone is born broken by sin. The one person who was broken in the place of our sin is the one who imparts incorruptibility. Until He comes to live in our hearts, we cannot have true integrity..”
— Dr. Kennedy Edem Kukuia
What are some of the more common ways we compromise on integrity in our daily dealings?
Some of the ways we compromise on our integrity include lying, stealing, evil communication. . . Psalm One says,
‘Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful… ‘
This talks about keeping evil company, evil communication . . . keeping friends who talk ill about others. Believers who keep such company can easily become corrupted by their ways.
Others ways include disloyalty and sexual impropriety, lying, stealing or pilfering, etc.
What practical ways can we adapt to promote integrity?
The very first way is to surrender to the lordship of Christ Jesus. Once we do that, the seed of integrity is sown in us. This in turn works in us, and consequently reflects in how we live.
Secondly, the person must be given to the Scriptures. The first textbook of any human being must be the scriptures. The Bible says,
“How can a young man cleanse his ways? By taking heed to the Word of God.”
The only way you can truly walk in integrity on this earth is when the word of God becomes an adherent part of you. A man can study medicine, pharmacy, nursing or engineering and fail, but no man can study the scriptures, live by them, and be a failure in life. Abraham had no classmates. Isaac, none. Paul probably had some. Peter had none. What made a significant difference in their lives was the fact that they encountered Christ and lived by His word. That is what will make the difference.
As a student, I knew I wasn’t prepared for marriage. I knew what my weaknesses were. That was not the time for me to go and tell someone’s daughter “When I see you, my heart skips a beat. When I see you, my eyes turn 360 degrees in their sockets” I feel that we need to have certain boundaries. How you behave at home is essentially how you are supposed to behave on campus. I believe this is very crucial. I guess the true way to test integrity is not when people are watching—it is when you are alone and in the dark.
We also need to respect time if we want to be people of integrity. Time is life, and life is measured in time. If a person has no respect for time, he has no respect for life and God as the giver of life.
In summary, giving ourselves to Christ, reading Scriptures, setting boundaries and respecting time are some of the ways we can aspire to become people of integrity. All of these come together when we have love. Love is not just a feeling; it the willingness to lay one’s life for another or for a cause, irrespective of consequence.
There’s a verse in Psalm 15 which talks about who that man is that can ascend to the Hill of the Lord and stand in his holy hill. Subsequent verses mentions that it is he who can swear to his own hurt and does not change his mind. Our yes should be our yes and our no, no, irrespective of the consequences.
There is more to life than meets the eye. This life is very short. The choices we make now determines what would come to us in eternity. Integrity pays.
There are eyes watching us both from eternity and right here on earth. Even if some unbelievers do not sing your praises, they are still watching you. The day you fall, they will walk to you and ask if you are truly the believer you claim to be. God has His eyes on us, and he rewards every little thing that we do, whether good or bad.
This interview was first published in the eighth issue of GNOMIC Magazine.