Oscar Muriu is now the Senior Pastor of Nairobi Chapel in Kenya. Under his leadership, Nairobi Chapel has grown from a 40-person local church to a network of 30 churches with more than 14,000 weekly worshippers. Learn more about his ministry at nairobichapel.org.
My first conversion was one of convenience rather than a real encounter with Jesus Christ. As a student, I needed an escape from the bullying we suffered in the hands of the bigger boys and so I joined the fellowship of Christians in the school. Upon graduation, I stopped being a Christian and became so critical of Christianity that I started seeing myself as an atheist.
Opportunity came my way to go and study in India. I felt deep within me that I needed to change and begin a new life altogether. Life in India was difficult. I had been watching Christians closely and I admired their lives. I realized that their relationships and support networks were real. I decided to keep their company although I greatly enjoyed debating with them on their faith. Their arguments were always consistent, and their logic rock solid, but mine wasn’t as convincing.
I admired the Christian ladies around me because they were principled and knew their boundaries when relating with the opposite sex, unlike other women on campus. I fell in love with a Christian girl but her fellowship challenged her to break up with me because I was not a Christian. On the night we broke up I was so angry with God that I threatened to hurt his people. The next day riding on a bus I heard a voice clearly asking me, “Why do you refuse to get saved?” I was startled because there was not a single person on the bus who knew me, yet the voice was so real! As if to make an emphasis, the voice asked again. As I began to ponder what this was, I saw a vision of an ant holding out its st to threaten a man.
I immediately saw my foolishness in trying to threaten God for taking my girlfriend away from me. The words of Isaiah 40 came alive and immediately I understood the importance of the question I had been asked. By the time I got o the bus, I found a friend who helped me receive Christ into my heart.
Not long after this, I began thinking through my career. I had chosen aquaculture because of the money I could make. As I studied the Scriptures however, my eyes and heart were caught by the words of Jesus, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest eld.”
I prayed that God would send other people, not me, into the mission field. As I prayed however, I felt a nudging in my spirit that the Lord could actually be calling me to the ministry.
I started to think about which direction to take after exams. A tempting idea was for me to pursue a master’s degree in zoology. I took a short break after my exams to visit my folks at home. Amazingly, God connected me to Rev. Mutava Musyimi of the Nairobi Baptist Church. I met him and after close fellowship and prayer, he discouraged me from pursuing another degree in Zoology if God was calling me into ministry.
I enrolled at the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology for a Masters of Divinity degree. It was during this time that I met and married my wife Beatrice. After completing my studies, I joined Nairobi Baptist Church as a trainee. During that time an offer came from the Nairobi Chapel for Nairobi Baptist to revitalize its ministry with special focus on the University of Nairobi students. Those first months were difficult for me. I had no real idea what I was supposed to be doing. The congregation followed a Brethren tradition and a good number of the members were older than me and I did not know how to lead them.
One or two moved out after I took over, which was quite discouraging for me as a young pastor. At first, I took this personally, as a sign of failure. I remember Rev. Tom Houston advised me to “Always leave the front door of the church wide open so many can come in but also leave the back door a bit open so that those who need to leave can do so, otherwise they would become trouble makers.” That really encouraged me.
That rst year was largely one of laying foundations for ministry. God was good to us and the church began to grow on different fronts. And the rest is history.