By Reuben  K. Waweru

The history of P.C.E.A. Kariobangi South Church cannot be documented without mentioning the role played by two men, Israel Ndung’u and Hosea Mbae Murimi. Their names will forever remain in the annals of the history of this church. They are indeed the founding fathers of this church. They have since gone to be with Lord. The church they founded has grown into a vibrant center of worship.

It was on the evening of 11th May 2003, when members of district ten visited with the two elders. One of the objectivesfor the visits was to pray with the two elders, whose health was failing. The other objective was to hear from these pioneering founders of the church how it had all started.This writer was then a member of this district and was privileged to participate in that memorable visit. The members started visiting with Elder Israel Ndung’u. He had impaired speech due to illness. His wife Rahab Wangari Ndung’u spoke on his behalf. She had served the Lord together withher husband and was a pioneering member in her own right. She continues servingas a deacon to date. She told the group how it was like in those early days. Though Mr. Ndung’u could not speak, he keenly listened to every word uttered by his wife and acknowledged and agreed with every word, with appreciation.

Mr. Ndung’u was born on 5th December 1938. When he came to Nairobi, he joined the Anglican Church at Pumwani in 1964, where he remained until 1967. He married his wife Rahab Wangari Ndungu at PCEA Kambui church in 1963. Mr. Ndungu’s active church service in Nairobi goes back to 1968, when he joined a small PCEA congregation that held worship in a classroom of a local primary school. He later joined Bahati Martyr’s church where he was ordained as an elder on 25th November 1975.

When members of district ten visited Mr. Hosea Mbae, he narrated the challenges that they went through during those formative years. The selfless service and devotion to the Lord by these two men of God in those formative years was apparent.

P.C.E.A Kariobangi South has its roots from P.C.E.A Bahati Martyrs Church. The two menwere serving as elders in that Church. In the year 1978 PCEA Bahati Kirk Session charged two elders, Mr. Israel Ndung’u and Mr., Stanley Murimi (not related to Hosea Mbae Murimi) with the responsibility of starting a new congregation at Kariobangi South.

According to Mrs. Ndung’u, they started by holding fellowship meetings in their houses. They brought a few families together to start these home fellowships. Mr. Stanley Murimi was the chairman of the proposed congregation. Thursday became a popular day for those fellowships meetings. It came to be commonly referred to as “Thursday Maalum”.

The number of those attending the fellowship meetings increased. It thereforebecame necessary to look for a place for Sunday worship. The then Mayor of Nairobi Mr. Andrew Kimani Ngumba was approached to help provide a plot. A shed formally used by Nairobi City Council was provided. According to Mr. Peter Muthoga Nguyo, who was until recently a member of PCEA Kariobangi South church, the shed was used as a store for building materials during construction of a pilot house project by the City Council of Nairobi.  Mr. Muthoga was one of the City Council workers on the sight in 1971. He was actually the store keeper. The timber houses neighboring the new sanctuary wereactuary the pilot project houses.

The shed had a dusty floor and due to the many posts supporting the roof, worshippers had to ensure that they positioned themselves strategically to be able to see the preacher. The new church members used timbers placed on stone blocks for sitting. They had to pour water on the dusty floor to reduce the dust. Toilet facilities were non- existent and members relied on the kindness of some neighbors. The Nyoike’s who are still members of this church were such neighbors. They made their house available for use by the new church, especially as the vestry.

People started coming to the church. The first minister was Rev. Boro. He went for further studies and was replaced by the late Rev. Kaburugu. These founding members formed the first choir themselves. Mr. Burton Njugi Nguyo, a brother to Mr. Muthoga joined them in 1979 and became the first choir Master. The following were some, among others, who formed the first choir:  Mr. Joseph Muya; Mrs. Esther Muya; Mrs. Rahab Ndung’u, Mrs. Eddah Mburu; Mr. Muriithi Karinga; andMrs. Irene Maina. Mr. Njugi recalls that Mr. Muya used to sing bass and that Mrs Muya was a gifted alto. Mr. Njugi relocated to Nyeri in 1982, where he recently retired as an elder.

It was while worshipping in this shade when another man who was to play a major role for the development of this church was postedby Bahati Kirk session. He was Elder Hosea Mbae Murimi. He was posted to replace Mr. Stanley Murimi who had relocated to PCEA Kiaguthu Church in Nyeri in 1979. He was appointed chairman of the congregation. He talked about the state of the church at the shade, to district ten members during the visit mentioned above. According to Mbae, it was shocking that God was being worshipped in such a place.

 Mr. Mbae was a humble soft spoken who was reported to be very organized in whatever he did. Rev. Dr. Jane Nyambura Njoroge, who worked closely with Mr. Mbae and Mr. Ndung’u paid glowing tribute, during their retirements which were held jointly on 22nd June 2003. She states of Mr. Mbae “ who would forget of the well written and carefully read minutes of the Kirk Session coming from the hands of the soft-spoken voice. Always punctual and ready to give his gift of the written word. She further states of Mr. Ndung’u “Who can forget the laughter, love and commitment of Mr. Israel Ndung’u, and that he always drove from Karatina, where he had a business those days, to attend to Kirk Session without fail”

Mr.Mbae was born on 23rd December 1934. He came to Nairobi in 1957. In the following year he joined Bahati Church. Bahati Church was itself founded in 1954. He started teaching Sunday school in 1960 and was an active member of the youth. He also sang in the choir (bass). It was while he worked in the youth ministry that he met his wife Mineh Wambui Mbae, who was from Nakuru, and also in the youth ministry. Their wedding at PCEA Dr Arthur Memorial Church in Nakuru on 8th June 1963 was the first wedding to be held in that church. Mr. Mbae was appointed elder at Bahati church in 1967. In 1968 he was appointed as the session clerk.

The congregation grew rapidly and before long had reached about 100 members. The number of elders increased with the following joining in: Mr. William Wachira Waithaka, Mr. Joseph Muya Wamai and Mr. John Gitume Mwangi.

There was a growing need to acquire a plot to build a church so that the congregation could move from the untidy shade. Mr. Mbae was among those who went to seek help from the late mayor Ngumba on this issue. During the visit by district ten mentioned above, Mr. Mbae was full of praise for the late Mayor of whom he noted was ‘a very good man’. The mayor helped the church acquire a spacious plot measuring close to a hectare.

In 1983 the number of elders increased again with ordination of Mrs. Martha Nyangati Wachira and Mrs. Esther Wamuyu Muya.

Dandora parish was curved from Bahati parish on 9th December 1984.  Kariobangi South Church became one of the congregations of Dandora parish. The other congregations were Dandora, Umoja, and Embakasi.

 In 1986 Kariobangi South congregation moved into a semi- permanent timber building, constructed on the new spacious site. The number of members had increased to about 250.

By 1984 the church from Bahati was expanding to Umoja, Dandora, Kariobangi South, Njiru and Ruai. In 1986 when Kariobangi South congregation moved to the new site, a sharp increase in the number of worshippers was noted. It therefore became necessary to construct a bigger sanctuary. The breaking of the ground was performed by the then Moderator of the Dandora parish, Rev. Samuel Kinyua Maina on 4th October 1993. The then Moderator of the General Assembly  the Very Rt. Rev. Jesse M. Kamau formally laid the foundation stone of the church on 8thFebruary, 1998. The Rev. Edwin Kibathi was the Dandora Parish Minister.

The following are the Ministers who have served then in Dandora and later Kariobangi South parishes to date:

  • Rev. E. Ndomo
  • Rev. S. K. Maina
  • Rev. George Ndebe
  • Rev. Dr. Lawrence Mbagara
  • Rev. D. R. Gathanju
  • Rev. Edwin Kibathi
  • Rev. Edward Karanja
  • Rev. Charles Maingi
  • Rev. Joseph Gichinga
  • Rev. Dr. John Gicheru Macharia.

PCEA Kariobangi South was inaugurated as a parish, curved out of PCEA Dandora Parish, in 1999. Mr. Mbae’s long service as a Session Clerk began in Bahati parish and continued in Dandora and Kariobangi parishes. He served as chairman of PCEA Kariobangi South Parish for ten years, until the three year rule was introduced. He has not only served as a Session Clerk, in variouschurch committees but has also been a long serving Sunday Schoolteacher.

Despite being a very busy Session Clerk Mr. Mbae continued earnestly with his noble calling of molding the young children as a committed teacher throughout his life. This is a passion he shared with Mr. Ndung’u who was also a Sunday school leader and teacher for many years. Mr.Ndung’u served in various committees including the building committee. He was a gifted and dynamic auctioneer during the numerous fundraisings, held to collect funds for church projects.

After 25 years of hard work and sacrifice coupled with good leadership, the church which was started by Mr. Ndung’u and Mr. Mbae made an ‘exodus’ from the old sanctuary, to a new spacioussanctuary on 15th February 2004, with great joy and cerebration. It was also a celebration of twenty five years since Kariobangi South church came into being.  Rev. Edward Karanja the parish Minister during this exodus called it a Jubilee, the year of the favor of the Lord.

Mr. Mbae and Mr. Ndung’u in spite of being weak due to illness were also there during this joyous occasion. The two faithful servants of the Lord lived long enough to worship in the new sanctuary and see the church they started grow into a great center of worship. They must also have noted with satisfaction, the entry of a younger and able generation of church elders, take over the mantle from where they left.From two elders posted from Bahati in 1978, to start a congregation from scratch, the number of elders has increased to twenty-five in 2012. Glory be to God!

Mr. Ndung’u was called to be with the Lord on 1st June 2006 and Mr. Mbae on 26th July 2007. They had walked together in the journey of faith, serving the Master with zeal, until they could say with Paul’ We have finished the race’. God will reward His faithful servants in heaven for the good work they did for Him here on earth (Matthew 5:11-12).

Their widows, Rahab Wangari Ndung’u and Minnie Wambui Mbae also are shining examples of devoted wives and mothers. The two women deserve to be emulated for being there as their husbands gave their time and talents to the church of Christ. Even during the difficult times due to illness they were there for them to the end.They too have served and continue to serve the Lord to this day. They too will receive rewards in heaven for the good work here on earth (Revelation 22:12).