I've just returned from a visit to Kenya where I met with Oscar Muriu and interviewed him and a number of the leaders who are the fruit of his ministry. It's an amazing storty. Over the next week or two I'll be featuring the story of Oscar Muriu and the Nairobi Chapel with a focus on how they grow leaders for a church planting movement. Here is the story of how it began with a struggling congregation of whites who turned to a young African leader named Oscar Muriu.
In the 1950s, while Kenya was still a British colony, a group of white expatriates started a church. Since they were from free church backgrounds they called it Nairobi Chapel. The church was located near the Governor's house, within a secured area where Africans were not allowed. The church had no African members.
After the Mau-Mau Uprising, as whites left Kenya for Rhodesia and South Africa or returned to Britain, the church dwindled. In the meantime, the University of Nairobi began growing and occupying the land around the Chapel. But until 1989, the church had no university students, and only one African family among the remaining twenty members in the congregation.
After six months of prayer, the church felt God was calling them to ask for help from an African-led church. They had a dream for the rebirth of Nairobi chapel as an African congregation reaching out to the surrounding communities, especially the nearby expanding University of Nairobi.
In November 1989 Nairobi Baptist sent a young, 27 year-old graduate student named Oscar Muriu to take over.
Over the next decade, the Chapel grew to seven services of 3000 adults and 800 children. The Chapel launched an internship program to develop the next generation of leaders. In 2005 they divided the main church up into five different congregations. Oscar is pastoring one of the new church plants that's meeting in a tent.
Today the church has planted 25 congregations in Nairobi, with thousands of members, and is planning to plant churches in Asia, America, and Europe.