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Day Moi sat in church until night and never spoke a word

By Kamau Ngotho | September 26th 2021

The late President Daniel Moi when he received a gift from Rev Silas Yego during a Sunday Service at AIC Milimani in December 2002. [File,Standard]

In the past few days, several clergymen have declared they will no longer allow politicians to speak from the pulpit. President Moi hardly missed a Sunday service, but he kept off the pulpit. At times he even went to church incognito; like on the day he sat late for prayers at the Citam church on Valley Road.

I will start with a personal testimony. I am a card-carrying member of Christ is the Answer Ministries (Citam) church where former President Daniel Moi often came for Sunday church service. I have been attending service at the church since early 1990s. On November 24, 2002, I was in the group of 83 that was officially admitted as members of the church by Presiding Bishop emeritus David Oginde. At the time he was senior pastor at Citam, Karen sanctuary.

In obedience to Christ teaching: “Let all the children come to me”, on November 17, 2011, I took my sons, Ngotho and Koigi, for children-dedication service at the church where the retired Bishop prayed for them, among others.

Bishop Oginde is a columnist in this newspaper (Page 14). In respect for that Man of God, I request you read his article before you read mine. As for me keeping to the straight and the narrow - what Bishop Oginde keeps reminding us, I will testify that much as the spirit is ever willing, my body is weak. End of my testimony. The story is about Moi not me.

Mzee Moi was a special friend of Citam. I say special because his Mother Church – to use Christian parlance – was the African Inland Church (AIC), formerly called African Inland Mission (AIM). He joined AIM church when he was 10 years old. In those days Moi’s name was Kapkorios Toroitich. He walked 20 kilometres barefoot to where the church was at Kabartonjo in Baringo. He was received by Pastor Arthur Barnet. The former president’s home town, Kabarnet, is named after that AIM pastor. To his death, Moi remained - and was offered funereal church rites - by the AIC church. However, when he was president and in Nairobi, he more often attended church service at Citam on Valley Road, though AIC main sanctuary is at Milimani, a walking distance away.

But the late president never abused the attachment to Citam. The media would report he had been there, but not what he said because he never spoke in the church – at least not in any day he came when I was present.

I will relate of one day when he came when I was there, and also reproduce a separate account told in the book on history of the church written by a senior pastor at the church, Rev Justus Mugambi.

Incognito entry

The first incidence was in June 1997. I pulled up at the main gate of Citam, Valley Road, driving my ramshackle – a Toyota Corolla DX, KAA 605X (the first car I owned). Suddenly two mean-looking, tall men in dark suits stopped me and motioned me to park at the pavement. As I did so, a police 99 car whizzed by followed by a private registration Volkswagen Kombi and another police car behind.

My journalistic instinct told me that was a VIP coming to the church. I quickly left the car and walked through the side gate. I had only few seconds to see the VIP who had come. It was President Daniel arap Moi.

Inside the sanctuary, the congregants were singing and only few noted who had come in and sat in the second front pew. Neither did the pastor presiding over the service mention. He went on as though he hadn’t noticed who it was. I guess the president’s people must have communicated in advance which is why three spaces in the second pew had been reserved.

Special guest

As you would expect of a journalist, I kept my eye on where the “special guest” sat. After the sermon and the congregation stood to sing, I saw senior pastor at the church, Rev Dennis White, escort Moi out and come back. There was no mention from the pulpit that the Head of State had been there. And unlike other days, not even the State broadcaster, the KBC, reported that the president had been to Citam, Valley Road on that day.

This is the second incident: President Moi came for Sunday service at Citam, Valley Road. (Those days it used to be called Nairobi Pentecostal Church).

It was on Sunday. January 11, 1987. The sermon of the day was delivered by a visiting preacher from Canada, Rev David Forrest. 

He spoke of how God works in ways that surpass human understanding. He gave the example of his wife who had been admitted to hospital with a cancerous growth and doctors had given up that she would live.

A woman who heard about it went to the hospital and prayed that God – the great healer – intervenes and have the pastor’s wife recover, much as science had ruled it couldn’t happen.

The pastor’s wife recovered. The doctors confirmed it, but cautioned she would never conceive and have a child.

Yet again, God worked His ways. The pastor’s wife not only gave birth to one but two children.

The congregation at Citam, Valley Road, that day was so moved by the sermon. Many shed tears. As he sat down, the visiting Canadian preacher asked those who needed prayers - for whatever needs – to come back for evening service usually held at all Citam sanctuaries on Tuesday evening.

Day for prayers

Not many turned up. It doesn’t happen even now. May be it is because Tuesday is a working day. Perhaps it could also be that Christians perceive Sunday is only day for prayers. Their Muslim brethren spare time to pray every day.

Back to the story, on that Tuesday, January 13, 1987, among the few who came was President Moi. This time there was no particular seat reserved for him as he was not expected to come. He picked a seat among the congregants and sat.

After being alerted the president was in the congregation, the Rev Forrest quickly concluded the prayer service and requested that only those who needed prayers remain. President Moi remained seated.

It was falling dark and the president’s security got agitated. His ADC (aide-de-camp) Brigadier (Rtd) Wilson Boinnet who had come in civilian outfit, whispered to the Commander-in-Chief that they leave. The president didn’t move. He sat until prayers ended minutes past 8 o’clock in the night.

Postscript: Kenya’s politicians are busy plotting and forming this or that coalition to win in next year’s elections. As many other Kenyans should form a coalition for prayers to ask God to preserve and continue blessing our great nation.

The wise King Solomon records what God told him in Chronicles 2: Chapter 7:12-14: “I have heard your prayers and have chosen this place (church) for Myself as temple for prayers… If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn away from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

Finally, the words of our National Anthem: “Oh God of all creation, bless our land and Nation”. Amen.     

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