EARLY MISSIONARIES IN THE WILDS OF AFRICA

SIMON MUREU
Posted February 11, 2019 from Kenya

EARLY MISSIONARIES IN THE WILDS OF AFRICA

An Historical Account of the church of Presbyterian Church of East Africa P.C.E.A.

 

                                         BY.

                              SIMON KAHOKO MUREU.

 

   The history of the Christianity in Kenya and other countries that surrounds it could never be retold without bringing in the Church of Scotland, Its missionaries who are the carriers of the Torch, and the grail beholding the development of faith within the heart of the then dark continent – “ Old  Africa”.

  The journey to Africa had started much earlier in Scottish Highlands after two missionaries societies had sat down and decided to send  their co- workers to     Kenya and help to plant of mission among the Agikuyu People in Kenya towards the end of Nineteenth Century.

   The members of the two missionaries societies namely: East Africa Scottish Mission and an American based Gospel society arrived at Mombassa in 1891.

   The missionaries started their long journey into the inland  Dark Africa with a major aim of reaching Dagoretti a Low – Land place over looking Ngong Hills and the very same area a CMS Missionary, H. M.STANLEY, a former war correspondent in Ethiopia had encountered  with the Fight Hungry Maasai Morans.

   After a long journey, the group became tired upon arriving in the heart of the Akamba – Land and at once decided of setting up a mission station at Kimbwezi instead of Dagoretti.

   They hardly knew what the Akamba land to them and soon they started  to die of malaria bouts.

   Scared of their live, the surviving missionaries decided to return to Scotland leaving only one man who dared to travel further onto the very intended mission. This group of missionaries arrived in Scotland some time in 1893.

    A short while later the man who had been deserted arrived at Dagoretti and all too soon he, Thomas Witson as his name was fell in love with this place In 1894  he became fully convinced would set up a church Mission here.

    In the same year Witson left Kenya and traveled back to Scotland to look for more funding and of- course to poach for more missionaries.

    While in Scotland Thomas Witson got married, he, his and wife together with others returned to Kenya’s port of Mombasa and embarked  on their long- long journey towards the chosen place – Dagoretti. They decided to minister among the peace loving, hard working and quick to learn Bantu People – Agikuyu tribe and set up a mission at “ Thogoto”.

    Life among the Agikuyu proved to be difficult as these people had been religious in themselves.They believed in their God – Ngai  who was said to dwell far higher beyond their revered mountain – Kirima Kiri–Nyaga now Mt Kenya. It was difficult to change these people who adhered to his traditions going back to thousand of years.

    But lucky, as it turned out to be was not in Watson’s love bag; so because after setting up the church of Torch mission station at Thogoto and had even survived off malaria at Kimbwezi, here in Thogoto, he fell sick and soon went to live with his market leaving behind his two –year-wedded wife.Mrs Witson had to continue with the missions work for many years to come.

  By this time the land had to be hit by a serious draught and an outbreak of small pox. The mission helped people with both food and medicines. The missions set up children’s home and an evening  class for the young men who wished to learn how to read and write. By 1900 the natives had started to see the  shining light among their fellow people who had agreed to become a Christian and named the mission station – “KIMURII” meaning light.

   In the same year, a Swahili Bible Service was begun and was termed as a major development break through.

   The future for the mission in Kikuyu Land looked brighter with many people coming to join the Kimurii Church although the Agikuyu objected their girls joining the church.Only the naughty boys  were let free to go to read and write. The Church has started to growing strong. In 1901, the missions first missionaries were sent all the way south to Malawi where they mooted the Malawi presbytery.

  It ought to be here noted that after the death of Rev. Witson, the missions work was left in the hands of Rev. Dr.DCR Scott, Rev.HE Scott and Dr Arthur, who led the church between the year 1901-1926.

  In 1907, after teaching the natives about God for a number of years, Rev Dr Scott baptized convert of the mission before dying in October in the same year.

  During Rev.Dr.Scott’s leadership, the Kimurii mission prepared itself for the Kenyan Leadership. The church was moved from East African Scottish Mission to the church of Scotland foreign mission society which the head.

  Also, this hard working man managed to obtain a 3000 acre land and soon established agricultural project which mission buildings.

   The continuation of the mission’s grail was left to the Leadership under Rev. H.E.Scott who within three years managed to put a well designed church in 1911 a building that is still standing. Also he helped to built word in Agikuyu language and soon published the gospel of St.Mark in the same language.

   Rev.Scott proud to an active church minister whose motto was to go even wider. He started preaching in Nairobi and Tumutumu in Nyeri with the help of the A.R. Barlow and Dr.Arthur.And like his co- worker who had gone to live with creator, Rev.Scott passed away peacefully of the deadly malaria bout too.

   Dr Arthur, though a lay leader in the church came in to the helm and quickly travelled to Scotland to be ordained as a church minister in 1915 and soon came back in Kenya. Being a medicine doctor,He started one of first hospital in Kenya PCEA Kikuyu Hospital. He also helped to bring the church under local control.

   In 1916 church committees were set up in Thogoto Kikuyu and that of Tumutumu.In 1920 the Kirk Session in Thogoto was in augurated and together with that of St Andrews Nairobi which had been set up in 1911 were formed into a Presbytery. A week later, Tumutumu’s Kirk Session was formed into presbytery of Kenya.

  On the other hand the Gospel missionary Society had all along been preaching among the Agikuyu people and had, under leadership of Rev.and Mrs Kreiger built a mission station at.                     

  Kambui near Ruiru River. The work of the society grew very slowly while its leaders continued going to live with their creator. In 1946, the society united with the PCEA which is a united church by itself under its banner motto of “JITEGEMEA” meaning STAND- BE YOURSELF.

  During Mau Mau upraising the church opposed its members against taking the movement’s oath. Many of its faithfully were murdered by Mau Mau ADDERS.

  During this time the church OPPOSED the girls circumcision a move that split the church and many Africans went ahead to established their own independent church and schools.

  Again between 1967 and 1979 the church refused to let its faithful to take the in famous “TEA” a political rooted oath taking. A good number of its members were murdered.

   And in early 2005 the then church’s  moderator Rev. Githii announced the church’s old buildings carriers the Satanical Sculptures a claim that nearly caused a spilt in the churh.Today the church is free from its mother of Scotland, trains church ministers for its local needs and for “export” as carriers of the Torch, beholding the grail of Christianity in Africa.The sun had shone in Africa,PCEA Church is having up to date more than 11/2 million in Kenya alone.The church is still the lead fighting against  the young girls cutting-FGM  in all time

 CHURCH OF THE TORCH THOGOTO. The old Church where it all begun. –BUILT 1911

.CHURCH OF THE TORCH. (KIMURII THE MODERN CHURCH).

                                  BUILT 1928 – 1933. 

 SIMON K .MUREU

CERTIFIED CHAPLAIN  IN KENYA 

Comments 3

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SIMON MUREU
Feb 11
Feb 11

I am pleased to post this historian account and worked hard to get it as no records are well saved
Please note the number of witson who are different men

jlanghus
Feb 12
Feb 12

Hi Simon,

Thanks for sharing the interesting history of Christianity in Kenya. It's great to hear that they were opposed to FGM.