How I left Catholic and joined a protestant church
First things first. I have never enjoyed going to church in the village as I have in the city. When I came to the city, I was just a fresh graduate who never wanted to miss the Sunday mass. At first, I was staying in Githurai 45 because rent there for a single room which I had rented was only 2,500 shillings a month. I think I attended a Catholic church in Kahawa Garrison for a while, but then after a while, I started aching to be closer to the Pope.
My experience at Holy Family Basilica
In the Catholic church, the Cardinal represents the pope, and Holy Family Basilica is like the Vatican. So I found my way to Basilica, as this would be a great day for an outing after spending the whole week behind a computer. So I located the Kenyan Vatican, which I found was just opposite the monumental KICC and near Uhuru Park. On Sunday, I would go to Basilica, then visit Uhuru Park for free recreation and later go to KICC for a few snaps with Jomo Kenyatta on the background. It was fine because there was no much activity.
The only time I paid tithe because nobody emphasizes the need to tithe, I dropped the envelope in the tithe box after work and then went straight to a seat at the back of the church where I knelt to say a short prayer before going home. There was a couple that kept staring at me from the other side of the church and I wondered whether I was at the wrong place, because it was a weekday. Then as I started to pray, somebody touched my shoulder. The couple wanted money and had been looking for the people bringing tithe so they may share. I was new at this thing and didn’t have any other money apart from the one I dropped in the box.
Maxwell SDA and CITAM Valley Road
Later, I wanted to try Hope FM as I had been listening to the cool music they were playing in the evenings especially by Hillsong. After falling in love with their music I had promised myself that when I come to Nairobi I will find Christ is The Answer Ministries hope FM. One day a friend invited me to his church, Maxwell SDA which I would find was just next to HopeFM. I am usually curious for knowledge and so had wanted to see how going to church on Sunday was, and also listen to SDAs preach.
When I saw the CITAM building I was carried away, and even spend some minutes admiring it. I promised myself that I would visit the following Sunday, and asked my friend from Maxwell to find out for me the order of services. They had three services back then, and one started in the afternoon, which would give me ample time to attend Holy Family Basilica morning mass then the make my way to CITAM.
My first day at CITAM Valley Road
The first time I stepped into CITAM, my whole body felt different. I would even start feeling happy for no good reason. Service here started with a praise and worship session and everybody was just happily clapping, dancing and singing. But people were praying out loud, letting the neighbour hear what they were saying. Isn’t prayer supposed to be private?
I wondered but nothing could beat those worship sessions. Then the pastors were electrifying. They even had a woman preach, and people went to church with their Bibles and notebooks. It was a whole new experience for me, and so I decided to be attending a service every day after the morning mass at Basilica. I mean, was there any harm in going to another church as long as I did not miss the Sunday mass?
When church became boring …
After a few services, CITAM reduced their services from three to two. And I moved to a bedsitter in kasarani that was more decent that the single room in Githurai. I was getting bored with church, and I decided that was because I was not involved in any church activities. So I looked for a church nearby where I could maybe join the choir, Legio Maria group, Jumuiya, or another activity to keep me in church.
The first time I attended a Jumuiya meeting in the neighbourhood and there were only mothers who were in their own homes. Nobody there was my age, and nobody was renting. I felt out of place and left. There was nothing I could share with them as they were talking about Chamas.
Joining the Charismatic Movement in Catholic church
I started attending the morning mass every day as that would give me enough time to also take a morning walk and meet other young people who attended morning mass on their way to work. One Sunday a guy called me at the gate to sell me a book. He told me the books are used in protestant churches but there was no harm in reading it. Then he introduced me to Charismatic movement, where he said they pray like protestants. I was interested because, at that point, I was not able to stay in a service on Sunday till the end.
My experience as a member of Charistmatic Movt
There was always something pulling me out of the Catholic church but I would refuse to go home and board a matatu to CITAM so as to enjoy the cool music. But after joining Charismatic, things started changing slowly. The guy who introduced me to the movement also taught me about fasting. He advised me to fast for 7 days and pray using a book he gave me. The group was praying loudly, clapping and dancing as they sang just like protestants, and they also sang praise and worship. I found myself looking forward to those meetings because they reminded me about CITAM.
I got born again while still a Catholic
Then one day, there was a crusade in Mwiki that was organised by the Charismatic group and invited many preachers from other areas. I had grown up knowing that protestants were ‘watu wa kurukaruka’, ‘watu wa kuokoka’, watu wa praise the Lord’ and that their crusades were evil. I had never attended a crusade before. This was my first time to fast for 7 consecutive days, the first to pray loudly, the first to ‘ruka ruka’ while singing and the first to attend a crusade. And in that crusade, I got born again!