Mavuno Turns 8 – Blessed To Be A Blessing

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Allow us to tell you our family story; the Mavuno Story. And since it’s our 8th birthday, I want to tell you the story of 8 important dates in our story so far:

#1 Many people don’t know that Mavuno’s story actually began in 1952 (61 years ago!) A small group of British settlers, mostly from the Brethren tradition, had a vision to start a church that would be strong in evangelism & teaching and open to people from all denominations! They began meeting @ the Girl Guides HQ next to the Nairobi Arboretum and they went by the name ‘Nairobi Nondenominational Church’ because they were the first non-denominational church in Kenya!

They soon began to be referred to as Nairobi Chapel. After just 3 years, they got a prime property next to the governor’s mansion that is now Mamlaka Hill Chapel. They had radio services called ‘Gospel Hour’ that were broadcast live across the whole nation. Through these, they reached many of the British troops who were in the country fighting against the Mau Mau. Services were full to overflowing – soon expanded and doubled the size of the original building.

#2 But in 1963, 50 years ago, all that changed. Independence came to our country, and most of the British soldiers were recalled back home. One by one, many of the members began to move back to England. At the same time, the University of Nairobi, formerly known as the Royal College, began buying up the land around the church & building up student housing, so that with time, the church building became surrounded by thousands of university students. But few of them were interested in coming through doors as it was still seen as a church for ‘mzungus’ (white people) or British settlers.

The church began to steadily diminish in number until eventually, there were less than 20 adults left! It seemed inevitable that they would have to close the church down. They prayed desperately to God for help. After around 6 months of prayer and fasting, they felt led by God to approach an African led church and ask for help. Humbling!

And so in 1989 ( #3), the Senior pastor of Nairobi Baptist Church, Rev Mutava Musyimi and the elders of Nairobi Baptist Church agreed to send over one of their interns, Oscar Muriu and also to ask some of their members to move to Nairobi Chapel and help.

God began to do a new thing. The little church began to grow. Many students began to attend. Along with the students were young families, many of them lecturers and university staff. The church grew to 3000 adults (and many children) by 2004.

#4 in 1998, God began to speak to the elders of the church about the need to expand so that we could reach the needs of the society better. After prayer, we decided to buy 14 acres of land on Ngong Rd (current location of Nairobi Chapel) that would cost 40M. In those days, that was more money than any of us had ever imagined!

We paid the deposit by faith and embarked on a furious fundraising campaign, which included golf tournaments, bake sales and fundraising walks. Walked from Naivasha and climbed Mt Kenya! A week to the closing date, we had only raised just over half the amount. We were faced with the possibility of losing the whole deposit. And then with two days to spare, we got several large gifts that paid off the whole amount! It was such a huge miracle! Lots of rejoicing! We did a celebratory service on the land then prepared to move.

#5 Then in 2002, the Kanu era ended (after 40 years of rule!) and the Narc government came into power. One of their first acts was to freeze development of all land near forests. A frustrating time ensued for us as a church! Many wondered, how could we have trusted God and taken such steps of faith only to have Him close the door in our faces? But as we prayed over the next two years, we felt God was asking us not to move to one location like we intended, but instead to start 5 different churches at the same time! Craziest idea ever but it wouldn’t go away. So formed 5 teams and began to prepare. That’s how Mavuno Church came to be.

God sometimes carries out his purpose through the ‘closed doors’ in your life!

Many of you know how we got our name – just before we began, we were known as the Mombasa Road Church Plant. At a pastor’s retreat, we found ourselves torn between two names. Refuge (place of healing) and Harvest (place of growth & impact). God used a comical way to confirm! But also showed us that we’d be a place of both healing and impact. Moral of that story? God can use anyone, even a donkey!

#6 And so on Aug 7th 2005, Mavuno was born! Eight years ago, we had our first service at the South C Sports Club. We had to set up the night before (there was a wedding at the club on Sat so we labored from 6.30pm – 11pm!) It was an exciting day indeed – 398 adults + kids attended that first service. Pst Oscar Muriu of Nairobi Chapel preached and we cut cake and took a group picture.

Right from the beginning, we set to reach out to people who did not attend church, people who thought church was irrelevant. We wanted them to understand that following Christ is not just a religious activity an,‘opium of the mind’, but it’s a key towards understanding why we’re created and living out our purpose. Many began to ‘get it’ and every week we saw great transformation.

Now the club was a great venue but very inaccessible. The road leading to it was terrible! Dusty in the dry season and muddy in the wet. Every Sunday I was impressed that people actually came to church! The result however was a faithful committed core of around 400 who were there ‘rain or shine’. In that time, God showed us our mission – Turning Ordinary People Into Fearless Influencers Of Society. We also began to realize that God wanted us to reach not just Nairobi but the entire world with that mission, and so we came up with our vision statement, ‘to plant a culture-defining church in every capital city of Africa and in the gateway cities of the world by 2035’.

It was soon clear that we would need to find another venue so within a year; our relocation team began hunting for venues. For two years we met almost every Saturday. It was a difficult time as every promising lead closed in our faces. Bellevue was one of the first places we looked but wasn’t available. We had ‘hookups’ at Ministry Of Works and College of Insurance but nothing worked! Eventually, we walked into the Bellevue owner’s office and the rest was history!

God may not show up when you want Him to but He is never late! 

It took us another 2 years and Ksh 30M to finally move. You need to remember that there were only 400 of us at the time. The first year, we gave a full month’s salary above our tithe. The 2nd year, God asked us to give a sacrificial gift and many gave even more. Amazingly, God made up the difference! Many of us were so challenged that our own lives changed… if God could do such great things at church because of our faith, then He could also do great things in our home or at work if we would just step out in faith and trust Him.

#7 And so on the last Sunday of May 2009, we had our first service at Bellevue. In the first month alone, we grew from 400 to 1600 people! God has done some amazing things while we’ve been here ~ the period of our history we’ve referred to as Mavuno 2.0. This year so far, we’ve averaged around 5000 people spread out in 6 congregations and 4 cities. In Nairobi apart from Mavuno Hill City, we have Mavuno Downtown and Mavuno Mashariki. Out of Kenya we have; Mavuno Kampala, Mavuno Berlin and most recently Mavuno Lusaka. By the end of this year, we plan to add Mavuno Kigali and Mavuno Blantyre!

Just this year alone, over 900 people have received Christ, which is more than double our original congregation! Skeptics have come to faith, baby daddies have become faithful fathers, families have been reconciled, marriages have been saved, alcoholics have become role models, orphans cared for, and many initiatives have been launched that are changing our city. In addition, many churches both locally and across the world have been impacted through the programs developed here. All this in 8 short years! For many of us, these have been the best years of our lives!

Why Has God Blessed Us So Much? 

Genesis 12:1-3 

If ever there was a person favored by God, Abraham was that person. God appeared to him and promised to give him fame, wealth and protection. Who wouldn’t want that? God appeared to him in person, talked with him and answered his prayers. God became his friend (Isa.41:8). All this begs the question: “Why him?” Why not a Chinaman from the East, or Egyptian from the Nile? Why not a Zulu from SA or a Meru from Mt Kenya? Why would God pick one person/tribe/nation and not others? Is this biased/unfair?

To answer that question, we need to look at God’s promise to Abraham. God came to this random guy, called him and decided to really bless Him. But there’s an important reason why He did it. We see that God’s promise carries both privilege and responsibility.

In verse 2 he says;

  • ‘I’ll make you a great nation and bless you. I’ll make you famous,’ Privilege
  • and then ‘You’ll be a blessing’ Responsibility

Then he says in verse 3;

  • ‘I’ll bless those who bless you; those who curse you I’ll curse’ Privilege
  • and ‘All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you’ Responsibility

There is a reason for God’s blessing! The reason Abraham was blessed was so that others would be blessed through him. When God wants to bless a nation or a city, he blesses a person! And we believe this is the answer to the question ‘why has God blessed us so much at Mavuno?’

We Are Blessed To Be A Blessing

But in the bible, God’s people often forgot this. They often began to think that God’s call and blessing was their right, and only for their benefit. They forgot what they had been called for and began to live for themselves. People like Solomon who gained great wisdom & wealth but used it for himself (had 1000 wives and lived a lavish lifestyle). People like Jonah who was so angry that God wanted to bless people that he didn’t feel deserved it, that he ran away from God. Instead of being a blessing to the nations, Abraham’s descendants engaged in their own selfish pursuits, and eventually they were taken captive by the kingdoms of Assyria and of Babylon. They lost their privilege because they didn’t understand their responsibility. Why has God blessed us so much?

We Are Blessed To Be A Blessing. 

That’s who we are! That’s what we do!

We are a privileged group that makes up the top 10% of this country when it comes to education, social status, and wealth or the potential to create wealth. Even the poorest or youngest among us has more opportunity than the majority of our fellow citizens. Why has God blessed us so much?

We Are Blessed To Be A Blessing. 

God is a good investor! We need to realize that God’s blessings are not rights to be kept for ourselves but privileges to be shared with others. There’s a hue and cry in this country about political, civic and religious leaders who misuse their positions to benefit themselves instead of others. But what’s even worse for our nation is when God’s people live in this way. When we forget the reason for our blessing, instead of influencing the world, we end up conforming to the world. Instead of being a blessing to others, we become captives of our own needs and desires. Instead of bringing transformation to our nation, we become part of the problem facing our nation. Because remember God’s people, there’s a reason for the blessing. Why are we blessed Mavuno?

We Are Blessed To Be A Blessing.

That’s who we are! That’s what we do!

I told you this was about 8 dates that made Mavuno. The 8th date is actually still in the future and it’s one that we can only speak about by faith. In late 2013, Mavuno Church finally moved to their own land called Hill City. And thus began a new phase of history that would dramatically impact hundreds of thousands across Africa and the world! Families in far off places like China, Brazil and Rongai had no idea of the cataclysmic event that was about to rock their world! Because that’s who we were! That’s what we did!

We Are Blessed To Be A Blessing

It always humbles me to realize that everything that’s happening here at Mavuno – the incredible growth and transformation and impact we’ve seen – is as a result of the prayers of those few who prayed fervently at the Nairobi Chapel in the late eighties, and the giving of those who gave sacrificially in the late nineties and sacrifice of those 400 who poured themselves out for this vision in 2008. Because of them, we are all blessed.

Remember, We Are Blessed To Be A Blessing.

After all these years of walking with God and seeing Him at work, we can truly say this…

One Thing Remains … Your LOVE Never Fails, Never Gives Up, Never Runs Out On Us

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5 Responses to “Mavuno Turns 8 – Blessed To Be A Blessing”

  1. Anthony Muchiri Says:

    Hi Pastor Muriithi,

    I seek for your prayers as my wife travelled to India as a kidney donor to her brother. What a show of love!

    She is expected back after three or so weeks. Please pray for them for a successful operation. We missed yesterday’s sermon because it coincided with their travel times.

    We trust God and have no doubt at all that everything will be fine.

    What a privelege to be part of this noble action on earth?
    Thanks and may God bless you abundantly!

    Like

  2. thekenyaninme Says:

    Reblogged this on thereasonformyseason.

    Like

  3. Listening to the history of Mavuno right from the Nairobi Chapel years, i was so familiar with everything you said. Infact we used to look up to you all (Ps. Oscar, Pst. M., Ps. Carol, Ps. Janet…etc) Infact it was emotionally powerful to listen to you give the history from 1999 because God revealed to me the timelines and where i lost the plot. I have been asking God, ” what happened to me?”

    I served in Youth Ministry at Nairobi chapel while doing my degree at UON i was 19years old. I made many covenants with God to remain pure until marriage during the awesome youth camps we had every quarter under the leadership of pastors Janet, kanyugi and gowi.

    I moved to Mavuno while at the club and i remained a back bencher because of reasons i am about to explain.

    I was on that purity journey until one dark day in 2006 when thugs came to the office and nearly raped me. They sexually abused me but God rescued me from the worst that would have happened that fateful afternoon. I did not go for couseling – i should have but i did not.
    I became rebellious towards God and proceeded to endulge in sex and attention from men. I forced myself into a come-we-stay marriage without consulting God and i knew it was not right because i always found it hard to call him my husband, i would dodge any introduction. The ” marriage” had alot of adultery which pretty much was my doing. I was the bad person not him!

    I did Mizizi, I pleaded with God to forgive me! I did Ombi and i pleaded with God to rescue me from bondage. We broke off and i am now living in purity and at peace and growing deeply in God. What i have learnt in the past two years has been restoring me.

    As mavuno turns 8,a light bulb just light up! …it occured to me that it had been seven years since i got into unpure ways! As Mavuno turns 8, i will be launching into my 8th year which is my restoration year! I feel renewed and rebuild. The canker warms and locusts have eaten up so much from me but God has promised to restore me and give me Living Water!!

    I attended Fearless Summit….I will not bury my treasures, i will use them for the power of the Gospel. In that regard, i spoke recently in a bridal shower and i feel like God wants me to share this timeline to young women so that they can be saved from the games of life!

    I truly want to be a blessing to others because i have been blessed.

    MB

    Like

    • thekenyaninme Says:

      MB, thank you for sharing your story. Ain’t God amazing, that He never gives up on us! I pray your story blesses many.
      I had heard the mavuno story many times so on that day i am not sure i listened to it much, but seeing that just how much it encouraged you makes me glad it was shared!

      Like

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