The Unusual, Compelling Daystar Story

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of blogs by Daystar U.S. development officer, Walt Avra, reflecting on his time in Kenya during a recent trip. Read the first installment HERE

Before our trip, I did some reading about the historical moments and influential leaders that birthed and built Daystar University over the past 40 years. Our office storage is full of old Daystar communications about the beginning of Daystar University and the fulfillment of its mission over the years. I love to read history with all of its interesting personalities and unexpected twists which shows His story unfolding through the years. The Daystar story is a drama of God’s provision and how He used God-dependent, brilliant men and women to establish Daystar University.

From left to right: James Mageria, Alan, and Stephen Talitwala

From left to right: James Mageria, Alan, and Stephen Talitwala

During our recent visit, I met so many of those leaders in person and I truly felt like I was meeting giants in the faith. I met the first two leaders of Daystar University, Stephen Talitwala and James Mageria who are now in their late 70s. James Mageria also played a major role in founding Prison Fellowship and World Vision in Kenya and even was a part of writing the Constitution of Kenya. He had such a kind and warm spirit and a passion for Jesus. I feel so thankful to be a part of the first Christian University in Kenya, one founded with such vision and prayer. I am so happy that Daystar University has been led and operated by strong, godly, African Christian leaders of integrity for so many years. God is building His church in Africa in remarkable ways! We also met the U.S missionaries, Dr. Donald and Faye Smith, who co-founded Daystar communications that later became Daystar University. They are still serving the Lord at Daystar into their 80s.

From left to right: Walt, Faye Smith, Dr. Donald Smith and their daughter Jalisa

From left to right: Walt, Faye Smith, Dr. Donald Smith and their daughter Jalisa

Here are some lessons learned from Daystar founding leaders:

Visionary Leadership: All of these leaders saw possibilities where others may have seen only obstacles. They saw Daystar University as making a BIG impact for the world and Africa. They saw Daystar as the answer for the leadership crisis in Africa and the world and they were trusting God for a HUGE transformation to take place as Daystar students impacted every sphere of African society. Daystar graduates have impacted the church, African governments, the media, community and relief organizations, the business world, and so much more.

Servant Leadership: These leaders expected Daystar University to change the entire concept of leadership in Africa. The model and mission of servant leadership according to Jesus would transform leadership as we know it. No longer would leaders see their position as an opportunity to lord over others in order to meet their own selfish desires for power, wealth, and prestige Now leaders would see their roles as opportunities to be like Jesus and serve the good of others at their own personal cost. This biblical concept of servant leadership differentiates Daystar from all other institutions and will be the enduring mission of Daystar for generations to come.

Christ-centered Leadership: All of these leaders were first and foremost sold-out as followers of the Lord Jesus. They were men of God’s Word and prayer. They were men who understood that Jesus is the only one who can bring people to God. All of these men recognized that their ultimate priority was to bring glory and honor to Jesus and not themselves. They also were alive to God as they experienced the power of the Holy Spirit each and every day. 

Indigenous African Leadership: All of these wonderful leaders were committed to an indigenous African-led institution. They recognized that transformation should not come from people on the outside but from African community leaders. Before Daystar had established undergraduate and masters programs many students left Africa to study abroad. Many would not return. The vision of these leaders was that Africans could receive a world-class education without having to leave Africa and that these students would be the community-based world-changers for Africa.

Let us pray that this Daystar mission will be passed onto the next generation of Christ-centered servant leaders in Africa!

For more information on how you can play a part in the transformative work happening at Daystar University, click HERE


Walt Avra

Development Officer
Optimistic Bridge-Builder | Impact Focused

I love to learn from my brothers and sisters in Africa and South Asia where my family lived and served the past 7 years. It was a joy to be involved in installing water hand pumps and providing basic education in villages without clean water and without the good news of Jesus.

I became passionate about Daystar University through my strong friendship with a Daystar graduate, Julius, who became my mentor while in graduate school. I am inspired by the great faith of others and how God can multiply our efforts as we work together.

I enjoy exploring the outdoors with my wife, Mercy, and our two children. I also enjoy reading books and the news.