Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Mulaha, Gilbert

Scriptural Holiness Mission

A deeply spiritual and prominent Kenyan Christian leader has stated outright, “In my view, Rev. Gilbert Mulaha represents the very best of those who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ.” [1] This may sound strange and far-fetched, given the fact that the name Mulaha is not by any means a household name in Kenya today. Nonetheless, he has a premier position among the spiritual giants on the Christian scene in Kenya. Of all Kenyan Christians to date, whether clergy or lay, one could say that Gilbert Mulaha is the greatest public exponent, champion, and practitioner of the way of holiness, purity, and righteousness. [2] While he has not had much direct influence on the masses, he has made an indelible impact on many key Christian opinion leaders and Christian ministers. By affecting them at a very fundamental level of their lives and Christian work, he has indirectly made a profound impact on the Christian cause in Kenya. [3]

Mulaha is first known as a devoted student of the Bible; secondly, as one whose life is steeped in prayer; thirdly, as a man committed to sustained evangelism and Christian witness as an ongoing pattern of life; and fourthly, he is indefatigable in carrying out the arduous ministries of counseling and follow-up. All this takes place in the context of his substantive roles as a Christian leader on the one hand, and as an accomplished preacher in his own right on the other. He seeks to achieve optimum excellence and effectiveness in every area of Christian life and work.

Birth and Family Setting

Gilbert Mulaha Maramba was born at Anyiko in Gem, in the Nyanza region of Kenya in December of 1921. His father was Maramba, son of Oluoch, a career policeman who retired when he had attained the rank of sergeant major in the police force. His mother was Meresia Abonyo, a Muluyia from Shirotsa in Kisa, in the western region of Kenya.

Mulaha was the eldest child and had six siblings, one brother and five sisters. His brother was Shadrach Ondunga and his sisters were Doris Okach, Christine Obatha, Agnes Ademba, Joyce Ndhoya, and Filegona Waga. They all grew up in their rural home in Anyiko, in Gem.

Early Schooling

Mulaha started his schooling at Malanga Primary School between 1930 and 1934. Since Malanga was distant from his Anyiko home, he resided with one of the teachers, Blasio Oyugi. This was not unusual as those who encouraged youth to pursue education were often very friendly and helpful to them and went out of their way to assist them. They hosted these pupils in their homes and the students would, in turn, undertake such tasks as garden work and household chores. This arrangement served as a means of providing much-needed free accommodation, food, and overall upkeep for the pupils. Among fellow pupils who were close to Mulaha and with whom he shared mutual influence were Japheth Ochilo and Elijah Odhiambo.

A Student at Maseno

After performing well in the testing and selection process for further education, Gilbert Mulaha joined the Church Missionary Society (CMS) Maseno School for the Standard 6-8 classes between 1935 and 1937. This marked a significant achievement as this stage was a decisive dividing line separating those whose education was curtailed on one hand and those who continued on the other. Among his classmates here were Philip Ingutia and Arina.

During his student days at Maseno, the premier educationist, Edward Carey Francis, was the head of the school, and Festo Olang,’ who later became the first archbishop of the Anglican Church in Kenya, was one of his teachers. For a short period also, a career educationist of later reknown, Wellington Ombaka, taught him at Maseno when he was conducting his teaching practice there while in training at Makerere. Mulaha stayed on as a student at Maseno until the end of 1937.

Post Office Career

For Mulaha, after finishing his schooling at Maseno, he set out to train for a career in the postal system. [4] He carried out his training at the Post Office Training School at Mbagathi, in Nairobi, from 1938 to 1939. Apart from training in general postal services and telephone operations, he specialized as a telegraph operator. In his year, he is the only one who specialized in this particular area of postal work. [5]

After his training, Mulaha began working in 1940 when he was posted to Limuru. His designation was that of assistant postmaster. In that role, he was the general officer in charge, with twelve people serving under him. He worked here from 1940 to 1942 before being transferred. In that general period, Limuru was not only a busy, bustling, and prosperous urban center, but it was also very cosmopolitan, with a large and prominent European community.

From Limuru, Mulaha was posted to Nairobi where he worked in 1943 and for the first half of 1944. Unlike Limuru where his duties were diversified, once in Nairobi, he was assigned to telegraphy, which had been his chief area of concentration. After Nairobi, he had a short stint in Kisumu for the second half of 1944, still with telegraphy as his main area of focus.

In 1945 Mulaha was transferred to Kipkelion (then known as Lumbwa). This eventually became his permanent place of residence, well beyond his tenure with the post office. Moreover, it was here that fundamental changes that were to drastically alter the rest of his life took place. He worked with the post office at Kipkelion from 1945 to 1949 before being posted to Kericho for the two years (1950 to 1951).

Over a period of time, he had established himself so firmly at Kipkelion that when he was transferred to Kericho, he opted to continue living in Kipkelion, and commute to Kericho. When he arrived in Kipkelion in 1945, he was assigned the position of assistant postmaster, with special duties in the telephone section. He steadily established himself in the work there and eventually ended up being elevated to the position of full postmaster of the station. However, after a radical change in his spiritual orientation, Mulaha felt that he should quit his job with the post office and enter full time Christian ministry instead. He tendered his resignation in August of 1951 but was not finally released until October of that year.

Marriage and Family Life

Mulaha married Miriam Athieno in October of 1946. The wedding ceremony took place at the Anglican Church at Regea, Gem. Through this marriage, God blessed them with nine children, five girls and four boys. These were Pamela, Florence, Ruth, Debbie, Timothy, Esther, Sammy, Stephen, and Philip. [6]

Shortly after their marriage, the Mulahas established their home in Kipkelion. Soon, Mrs. Mulaha, a trained teacher by career, began teaching in Kipkelion, and continued to do so with distinction until her retirement in the early 1980s. While carrying on her duties as a school teacher, Mrs. Mulaha worked hand in hand with Mulaha in his Christian ministry. Their endeavors were so intertwined in this regard, and her contribution so signal, that those who were not aware that she was a schoolteacher would have assumed that she was in full-time Christian work with Mulaha.

After partnering together for more than fifty-five years, Mrs. Mulaha passed away in Nairobi, on December 24, 2001, following a prolonged illness. She was buried in the Scriptural Holiness Mission (SHM) station, in Londiani, on January 2, 2002. Because the Mulahas were indigenous missionaries over the years in the Kipkelion-Londiani area, it had been concluded that rather than burying her in their rural home at Anyiko, Gem, the funeral and burial should take place at the SHM Mission station in Londiani. This was a fitting send-off and an apt testimony to the sacrifice, and utter commitment of the Mulahas to this sphere of their life-long Christian endeavors.

Spiritual Development and Progress

During his career with the post office, Mulaha maintained the Christian practices of his background and upbringing. This consisted mainly in attending church services and participating in the related activities in these towns. Because of his Anglican connections, this was his preferred church of association whatever he found himself. Throughout this period, between 1938 and 1950, he wholeheartedly attended church and participated in its activities.

In Nairobi, he had attended St. Stephen’s Anglican Church which was, at the time, where Kenya’s National Parliament is now located. When he was in Limuru, he encountered some problems, which made his church attendance and participation erratic. The two extremes of one Anglican Church that was predominantly Kikuyu speaking on the one hand, and one that was predominantly European in character on the other undermined Mulaha’s consistency in attending and participating in the church in his Limuru days. (7) In Kisumu, his church was St. Stephen’s Church, or Komulo, the latter being a reference to Reuben Omulo, the pioneer clergyman, whose name became synonymous with the church. When he moved to Kipkelion, and throughout his initial years there, Mulaha was an active member of the Anglican Church there. To its credit, the Kipkelion church had a fairly cosmopolitan outlook, incorporating Europeans and Africans from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Association with Mr. and Mrs Finch

Mulaha moved to Kipkelion in 1945 and, from the onset, he associated with the Anglican Church there. This was the state of affairs when he came into contact with the missionaries of the Scriptural Holiness Mission (SHM), William Finch and his wife, when they arrived there in 1948. Although they had come to Kenya to establish their own mission, they joined the Anglican Church and associated with it in the initial period of their residence in Kipkelion. God intervened in Mulaha’s life, through his interaction with Finch, in re-orienting his life direction.

The Finches arrived in Kipkelion in April of 1948, when Mulaha was already established there. They came to know Mulaha and became friends with him as they came to the post office to purchase stamps and carry out other postal transactions. Their friendship seems to have begun in June of 1948 and was further nurtured by the fact that, initially, the Finches joined Mulaha at the Anglican Church in Kipkelion. The most powerful facilitating factor of this relationship, however, was the fact that the Finches did not know Kiswahili, or any other local language. They were at home with Mulaha and relied on him because he knew both English and Kiswahili.

Soon, Mulaha’s acquaintance with the Finches blossomed into a deep relationship. This prompted Mr. Finch to ask Mulaha to serve as the interpreter from English into Kiswahili for the meetings and church services the mission was initiating in Kipkelion. Both Finch and Mulaha attended services at the Anglican church Mulaha considered as his home church. Mulaha therefore had to make some adjustments in order to accommodate this request.

Experiencing Salvation in Jesus Christ

Initially, while still attending the Anglican Church in Kipkelion, the Finches went around preaching, using Mulaha as Mr. Finch’s interpreter. On one of these occasions, Mr. Finch preached from James 4:7-8. When Finch made the altar call, no one came forward to be prayed for. Then, to the shock of all present, Mulaha stepped off the stage, turned around, and now stood facing Finch on the stage. In deep contrition over his sinful nature, he felt the need for salvation. He was led through the prayer for salvation, and left that meeting having accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Lord. That simple act not only brought new birth into Mulaha’s life, but also planted a powerful seed for all the drastic changes that were to follow later. Mulaha was saved on July 19, 1948. For the next four months, he and the Finches continued attending regular services at the Anglican church.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

It was through Finch that Mulaha first encountered the teaching of the necessity of being baptized in the Holy Spirit as the second blessing after being saved. (8) Initially, this emphasis did not make much of an impression on him. After hearing about this truth for some time, there was one weekend when this issue confronted him with intense force. It all began one Friday, in September of 1948, when Mulaha read the incident of the new believers in Ephesus as recorded in Acts 19:1-7. At that time, his wife Miriam was at their rural home in Anyiko, Gem. He struggled over the matter alone, agonizing without any sign of relief coming his way.

The question posed by the Ephesian Christians hit him hard that Friday. He thought that its impact would ease and go away, but it persisted, haunting him all weekend through Saturday and Sunday. As it turned out, all this concentration of thought was an orchestrated Providential preparation by God. This became abundantly obvious to him when the sermon or message that Sunday was on the topic of the Holy Spirit. When the altar call was made that Sunday while he was interpreting for Finch, he went forward in order to be prayed for baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was right there as he was being prayed for that he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Decision for the Christian Ministry

After his salvation and Holy Spirit baptism in 1948, Mulaha steeped himself in Christian work alongside Finch, while continuing with his job at the post office. The more involved he got, the more he felt drawn towards full time Christian service. It was as if he was offering himself for work in the Christian ministry in response to the inner truth of Matthew 9:36-38, on the enormity of the task and the scarcity of the workers.

In August of 1951, Mulaha resigned from his job at the post office to take up full time Christian ministry. As soon as he made this decision, he was confronted by a number of obstacles. First, he had a young family, as the first four of his nine children had been born by that time. This was an issue of grave concern. Secondly, he was acutely aware of the fact that he had a high position in a secure job with promising prospects ahead. Thirdly, he was the target of taunts from his colleagues who cautioned him against throwing his life down the drain by abandoning a stable, prosperous career for a precarious and uncertain future.

In these times of tumult and struggle, while he was at a critical crossroads about this decision, Mulaha found immense strength in a number of references from the Bible. In Hebrews 11:24, he drew encouragement from Moses’ resolution to abandon the comforts of the palace in Pharaoh’s household in his determination to pursue the mission which God had assigned to him. In Psalm 37:25, he derived strength from the fact that as long as man meets his end of the bargain, God will be faithful in sustaining him and providing for him. These Bible passages and others, helped to embolden Mulaha to forge ahead with his resolve to go into the Christian ministry on a full time basis.

Apart from his inner struggles, he also found much reluctance and resistance from his seniors at work. Their view was that it would be irresponsible of them to release Mulaha into an uncharted future, when he was so richly endowed with skills which made him useful in his job. They genuinely felt that they were working in his best interests by refusing to release him. When they found him insistent on leaving, they at last granted his resignation request and released him in October of 1951.

Service with the Scriptural Holiness Mission (SHM)

In its entry on churches in Kenya, the Kenya Churches Handbook presents the Scriptural Holiness Mission (SHM) as having its headquarters in Londiani, in the Rift Valley, with British links in Leicester, England. Instead of one clear leader, two individuals are recognized side by side as joint superintendents, without any distinction: Mr. William Finch and Mulaha. The entry states,

A British mission which began in 1948 with the object of promoting the Biblical teaching of personal holiness (in the Methodist tradition). The mission has a dozen branches with 6 men and 4 women as lay workers. A paper, The Highway, is published three times yearly. [9]

It was through the ministry of this mission that Mulaha was saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, and then nourished to maturity in his new relationship with Jesus Christ. When he decided to go into full time Christian ministry, it was with the intention of joining the ministerial ranks of the SHM, under Finch. From that time to date, Mulaha has stood unflinchingly with the church in all of its stages, identifying with all the fortunes which have attended its history. Through this process, when Finch left Kenya, Mulaha became head of the SHM. However, most of those who have benefited from Mulaha’s ministry do not know or care to know what church he comes from. This is because his greatest impact is in the wider national arena rather than in his own church.

From Local to National

For more than a decade after joining the ministry of SHM, Mulaha’s endeavors were more or less confined to its circumscribed sphere of the central Rift Valley, with the Londiani-Kipkelion axis as its main theater of operation. The situation changed radically in the early 1960s when Mulaha became a national figure almost overnight. There were three major influences which precipitated this broadening of perspective and ministry, all of them connected with relationships outside his church and its immediate structures. First and foremost, he came into contact with Joseph Yobera, a staunch Christian layman who was an agricultural officer with the Kenya government. Secondly, through Yobera, he was exposed to the wider Christian community in general, and to the spiritual upsurge which was taking place among students and youth in Kenya, in particular, in that period. Thirdly, from the mid-1960s on, together with Yobera and others, Mulaha was one of those who launched and functioned under a unique and vibrant Christian body, the Roving Team. These associations broadened his scope, while at the same time providing him with a national platform for his Christian ministry. [10] The bond forged between Mulaha and Mr. Joseph Yobera produced a Christian partnership of great influence.

It all began in earnest in the early 1960s, when Joseph Yobera, who was teaching at Siriba College in the diploma in agriculture section, was transferred to Kipkelion. He was posted there by the Kenya government as the agricultural officer in charge of the Soil Conservation Station at Kipkelion. When he arrived there, he met Mulaha with whom he forged a close Christian relationship. Their partnership was destined to change their lives drastically and the spiritual fortunes of countless individuals in Kenya. In further extension, God’s work in their lives has irrevocably changed Christianity in Kenya at a fundamental level.

Yobera’s stay in Kipkelion was interrupted by a stint at Siriba College in the early 1960s. He returned to Kipkelion in the latter part of 1963. At that time, he strengthened his ties with Mulaha. Yobera was already deeply involved in Christian student work and he introduced Mulaha to this form of Christian ministry. Yobera first took Mulaha to a Kenya Students’ Christian Fellowship (KSCF) camp at Maseno in late 1963.

Although the partnership widened later to incorporate more people, there is a sense in which, in the early stages of their relationship, theirs was the most formidable Christian ministry partnership that the church in Kenya has ever known. Their joint impact is reflected in Mulaha’s last letter to Yobera. On May 21, 1993, he wrote a letter from P.O. Box 85, Kipkelion, to “Dear Brother Joseph,” and posted it to Yobera in Nairobi. On the night of May 23, Yobera had a stroke and eventually passed away on May 29. He did not live to read the letter from his closest Christian compatriot, Mulaha. In its introductory section, the letter said,

We were delighted as always to hear from you and to get the news of yourselves and the Brethren whom we have seen go on with the Lord in their different places. Some have told me that they were so grateful to God for our seriousness with the Gospel in the Camp meetings and weekend challenges. [11]

Even when their partnership later broadened and matured into the explosive and irrepressible Roving Team which is still active today, Mulaha and Yobera always served as the central axis around which others converged. It is in this context that, in addition to all other deep losses, the death of Yobera was a major disruption to the well-being of the Roving Team. [12]

A Deep Student of the Bible

A gifted preacher, teacher, and expositor, in his own right, Dr. David Gacengeci, laments that in some quarters today, some ill-prepared preachers take refuge in poor “topical preaching.” After citing a verse in the Bible, they then go ahead and preach what is on their mind, with little or no content from the Bible. Mulaha contrasts with this picture sharply. It is in this regard that Gacengeci is ever grateful to God that as a young Christian, he came in contact with Mulaha and learned from him the depth and wealth of expository preaching. He recounts how he learned from Mulaha “as a young believer the value of Bible exposition, verse by verse, ‘precept upon precept’.” [13]

It is very true that in the Kenyan context, Mulaha is one of the foremost “Bible-based” preachers. It is equally true that in his African environment, he excels as a Bible expositor. It is safe to say that for him, while he has learned much about the Bible in an academic sense through personal private study, he has also studied the content intimately over the years and has a thorough mastery of the content, details, and message of the Bible from its beginning to its end.

This intimate knowledge comes through most powerfully in Mulaha’s preaching. He has an extraordinary memory for life events and references from the Bible that fill his life story and letters.

A Man of Prayer

Dr. David Gacengeci matter-of-factly describes Mulaha as a man of prayer. He illustrates by recalling an incident in which he encountered Mulaha in the practice of prayer. They were out on a Week-End Challenge Mission, most certainly with the Roving Team, in a school when he was put together in a dormitory room to share with Mulaha. It was very cold as he went to bed immediately and slept. Then, in the early morning hours, he writes that when he woke up at five a.m., the “man of God” was already up, “kneeling by his bedside, next to mine, reading his Bible under a torch light, praying. That image has never left me.” [14] That was typical of Mulaha.

For Mulaha, prayer is second nature to such an extent that it is like the very air he breathes. He cannot do without it! For this reason, he engages in prayer from the earliest hours of the morning, maintains the tempo throughout the day, and then finally closes the day with it. Here, Prof. Elijah Akhahenda testifies on the status of Kipkelion as a centre of intercession for the youth of Kenya, in the context of Mulaha’s prayer life. As he puts it, “There was in that town a man who had a rare passion for God, a zeal for evangelism, and a disciplined prayer life. He prayed early in the morning. He prayed in the daytime…; and he prayed at night”. [15] Whenever he is praying, regardless of the time of day, he prefers to kneel. He is consistent in doing this whether the form of prayer is adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication, intercession, or surrender. Because of his understanding of the grandeur, majesty, and sovereignty of God, when he is on his own or in charge in a small group, Mulaha cannot bring himself to approach God any other way, except perhaps by prostrating himself on the ground as was the case at Kijabe High School.

On account of the fact that Mulaha considers prayer to be such a central part of his life, he makes the early morning hours his priority period for prayer, together with the allied study of the Bible in the devotional session. At that time, he comes before God in seclusion in a deliberate and unhurried stance. Normally he will pray as long as is necessary and as long as time allows. [16]

Mulaha is also committed to prayer as a crucial part of his agenda throughout the day and as a most important activity at the end of the day before bedtime. At night, no matter how late or how tired, prayer must be the last activity and the last word on the lips of Mulaha and all who are with him then. This crucial prayer session at night serves as a conclusive review on the love, mercy, and grace of God for that day. After operating under God’s care throughout the day, Mulaha considers going to bed without prayer the height of base ingratitude.

Committed to Personal Evangelism and Christian Outreach

Mulaha carries out preaching in formal contexts. He also works with the church and with groups like the Roving Team in many facets of Christian ministry. Beyond involvement in Christian work with others, Mulaha is a strong believer in and an active practitioner of personal evangelism which he did regularly when he was in the prime of his physical well being. He did this principally in three ways. First, he would go about places where people were milling around, and approach individuals to talk to them one-on-one, urging upon them the need to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Secondly, he would distribute tracts and magazines which included the message of salvation in Jesus Christ, sometimes in combination with his verbal witness. Thirdly, he would approach a group, and on his own, he would preach briefly to the group, and invite those among them who wanted to accept Jesus Christ as Savior to so indicate, so as to be prayed for.

Prof. Elijah Akhahenda recollects that for many years, Mulaha had formed the regular practice of going to the Kipkelion train station to wait for the train as it stopped there. He would then get on the train and proceed to distribute tracts or the SHM magazine, The Highway of Holiness, for the brief stopover that the train was in the station. On some of these occasions, he would preach very briefly on the train, pray for the passengers, and then disembark before its departure. This task was so important to him, and his discipline in this direction so high, that even if he had company visiting in his house, he would leave them, go to the train, and then return to continue hosting them. [17]

A Veritable Spiritual Father

Because of his age, as well as his longevity in the Christian faith, Mulaha has always been Papa, (for father), to most of the Christians with whom he interacts. For many converts, what matters is not history or age, but simply their connection with him as a caring older Christian. His fatherly concern and care has been captured by the words, “He cares deeply about his spiritual sons and daughters, maintaining correspondence with many of us who came to Christ as teenagers. We refer to him as Papa Gilly, not merely because of his age, but because he truly is a spiritual father as Paul was to Timothy.” [18]

In an age in which “mentor,” “mentoring,” “mentee,” are empty buzz words in workshops, seminars, and conferences, it is gratifying to encounter the essence of the principle in dynamic practice in Mulaha.

Ministry of Mentoring

One of Mulaha’s greatest strengths in ministry is that he maintains consistent interaction with those whom he is endeavoring to assist in spiritual matters. He carries this out mainly through ongoing correspondence, earnest and regular intercessory prayer, purposeful visits, and occasional telephone calls. Throughout, his purpose is to ensure that these Christians are edified and encouraged to live for Christ and serve him with zeal.

Mulaha establishes a strong bond with those he mentors, noting all their contact information and information about their family, church, and place of work. Once he has established a meaningful relationship with someone, Mulaha never forgets them. The individual’s name and personal details are ever at his finger tips, even decades after his first face to face interaction with them.

Mulaha is methodical in following up his contact through correspondence, writing regular, lengthy letters. Mulaha has remained unique in communicating through detailed handwritten letters. Each letter is purposefully written, replete with Bible references as Mulaha informs, teaches, strengthens, inspires, and challenges his readers. Throughout the world today, there are many who have received his beautifully written letters. At times they are spontaneously circulated for others to read, while on other occasions they are jealously retained as treasures, and kept in personal archives. Mulaha also continues the old fashioned practice of sending out handwritten Christmas cards. Mulaha also follows up with people through earnest and programmed intercessory prayer and maintains an extensive prayer list. He prays for each individual on the list in a systematic and deliberate fashion, without rushing.

A Master of Spiritual Counseling

In the area of counseling, Mulaha has a balanced blend of gracious compassion and resilience. On a Week-End Challenge Mission, Mulaha is at his best when he is engrossed in a counseling situation. In a counseling context, he displays patience, endurance, and stamina; he is discerning in listening at length and speaking with wisdom and measure. He often refers to the Bible and prays earnestly. He rarely stops until there is some form of breakthrough, no matter what time of day. [19]

Altar Calls as a Serious Affair

Mulaha considers altar calls to be a very serious affair. Dr. David Gacengeci, a deeply spiritual Christian, and a prominent psychiatrist, notes with deep appreciation the way Mulaha conducts altar calls from the very depth of his heart. As he puts it, “He is always serious with altar calls and encourages seekers to accept and confess Christ publicly.” [20] During this time, he not only encourages, but challenges and urges those who need salvation in Jesus Christ to come forward contritely, but also boldly and unashamedly. When he is making the altar call himself, it is not a hurried affair. He will take as long as is necessary to give those who are searching for salvation in Jesus Christ an opportunity to come to Him.

When Mulaha steps on the stage to make an altar call, it is with utmost Divine unction. One can actually sense the palpable presence of God in those life-changing moments. For Mulaha, there is no more sacred moment. That is why he takes on the role of master of the stage when doing an altar call, taking absolute command, with one overriding objective. Above all else, he endeavors to elicit total reverence for God from those present when an altar call is going on. The moment of the altar call is a deadly war zone, where the battle for people’s souls and lives is won or lost. The worst thing that anyone can do is to cross Mulaha during an altar call. He becomes visibly angry with those who make light of or interfere with an altar call or for that matter any part of a Christian meeting. Rev. Dr. Stephen Githumbi illustrates this from a Roving Team Week-End Challenge meeting at Naivasha Girls School in 1972. According to his narration,

Brother Mulaha is very passionate for the salvation of souls. He quickly took control of an incident in Naivasha Girls School which left unattended would have ruined the mid-morning session. Two or three girls came into the meeting late. One of the girls was shuffling her feet in her pata pata (one string open sandals). Her partner in crime was wearing lots of bracelets on her arms with bangles on her legs. They were deliberately causing commotion as they walked into the meeting.

Gilbert shot up and motioned to the worship leader and said to the girls, “You Naivasha girls need to learn to honour God. The way you are coming in here with your bungles going ‘chingli, chingli’, demonstrates lack of reverence. God can make you go to hell fire with your legs broken. My daughters”, he added, “humble yourselves whenever you are in God’s presence”. There was complete silence after Gilbert’s words, and the meeting went on and concluded uninterrupted. [21]

We have heard him reprimand those who try to walk about, with the caution, “Girl, do not strut around proudly like a peacock, God can break your legs right now and immobilize you completely.” [22a] Or, for those who are tempted to chuckle, “God can knock those teeth out and leave you with nothing,” [22b] and still, for those trying to look around, “It is God who gave you those eyes to see. He can pluck them out at will.” [22c] But sometimes he simply exhorts the gathered crowd to honor and respect God’s presence, “God made you. Your soul is precious and of immense value to him. If God withheld his breath even for a moment, all of you here would wilt right where you are and lie there, dead.” [22d]

Prof. Elijah Akhahenda considers one of those characteristically animated and lengthy altar calls of Mulaha to be historic. It took place in the Kenya Students Christian Fellowship (KSCF) Camp at Maseno in 1964 and ushered in a real spiritual breakthrough in that camp, as many students were saved, backsliders restored, many more spiritually uplifted, others baptized in the Holy Spirit, and still others healed of their ailments. In looking back, the occurrences of that night proved to be a critical turning point which contributed immensely to the emerging modern Pentecostal spiritual movement in Kenya. Mulaha gave the altar call on that historic night even though the preacher was Akhahenda, from whom Mulaha took over for the altar call session. In Akhahenda’s own words,

After preaching, I handed over the service to Mulaha. He took over at that point and did what he did best – make the altar call for those who needed spiritual counseling. As soon as he began making the appeal, students flocked to the front until nearly every camper had left his or her seat. They looked convicted, repentant, and in awe of a uniquely holy presence. Since the seekers had different needs, we asked them to go to St. Paul’s Church opposite the cafeteria, where the evening services were held.

As the various groups began to pray, the unique awe that had characterized the cafeteria at the time Mulaha began to make the altar call descended upon St. Paul’s Church. The salvation group broke into spontaneous tears of repentance as the Holy Spirit convicted them. Miracles of healing occurred among those who had sought healing; and the vestry was transformed into a mini Upper Room as those who gathered there received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and witnessed some of the same manifestations that were evident on the Day of Pentecost. That night, the seeds of Charismatic revival among the youth in Kenya began to take root. [23]

Akhahenda insists that, beyond the message which he preached, the real turning point in terms of a massive response for spiritual transformation emanated from the powerful altar call given by Mulaha. Akhahenda sincerely believes that when an accurate history of Christianity in East Africa is written, the far-reaching explosive impact of that meeting will feature prominently. The details then will include Mulaha’s crucial role not only in the outcome of that meeting, but also his overall pivotal place in the history of the church in Kenya.

Concluding Focus

Mulaha is the head of the Scriptural Holiness Mission (SHM), a church which is very solid in Christian theology and practice, but which has a limited sphere of operation in Kenya. In God’s Providence, it has grounded and equipped Mulaha so that he might be a blessing to the nation. To facilitate this contribution, God forged a forceful partnership between Mulaha and Joseph Yobera, in the early 1960s. God bound them into a strong bond which later issued into a powerful spiritual network. It is through this intricate link that Mulaha made his lasting contribution and achievements in ministry.

Mulaha’s life is intricately tied to an enduring network of Christians from a wide range of churches and regions throughout Kenya. In addition to his primary ministry in his own church, the Scriptural Holiness Mission, he maintains ministry opportunities and connections with other entities such as the Africa Gospel Church (AGC), the Calvary Fellowship, and the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK).

Watson A. O. Omulokoli

End Notes:

  1. David Gacengeci, e-mail communication of December 29, 2010, “Assistance on Mulaha,” Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. What Gacengeci was articulating here could be echoed by virtually all who know Mulaha well.

  2. With regard to the subject of holiness, the Bible is very clear on its priority in the Christian life. In Hebrews 12:14, it is urged upon Christians to be holy and to pursue holiness as of first importance, since “without holiness no one will be able to see the Lord.” This is in tune with the classic portrait of God’s Highway of Holiness as presented to us in Isaiah 35:38. A partial sketch points out, “And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in the Way.” As enjoined to Christians in 1 Peter 1:15-16, the pursuit of holiness as the center piece of their lives is an indispensable hallmark of what is entailed in being a Christian. “But just as he who has called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’.”

  3. I am deeply indebted to the entire Roving Team fraternity, especially to the late Joseph Yobera first because it was through its association that I first came into contact with Rev. Mulaha in 1968. Secondly, much of the information contained in this write-up has come from their lips in the form of unstructured oral narratives and unrecorded anecdotes. Although the thoughts and words employed are the author’s, they merge so much with those of others that they border on unconscious and unintentional plagiarism. Then there are those who have expressly aired their views, either verbally or in writing. Taken together, they are too numerous to mention one by one. Those representing the many unnamed ones include, Rev. Hon. Mutava Musyimi, Bishop Dr. Otieno Munala, Rev. Ochola Ong’ombe, Mr. Abednego Ongoma, and Miss Pearl Asila. Those who have written and on whom the author has relied heavily are headed by Prof. Elijah Akhahenda of San Antonio, Texas, USA., Dr. David Gacengeci of Raleigh, North Carolina, USA., Rev. Canon Micah Amukobole of Nairobi, Kenya, and Rev. Dr. Stephen Githumbi of Fontana, California, USA. The Mulaha and Yobera families have provided much invaluable inspiration and information. Through Rev. Canon Amukobole, several of Mulaha’s priceless letters were availed to the author; part of an archival foundation which we hope to pursue vigorously. The author has had innumerable conversations and many personal interviews with Mulaha. Among these personal interviews, the “short-hand” notes taken on one occasion by Mrs. Emmah Omulokoli proved particularly useful in the writing stage. To all and sundry unacknowledged here, I am deeply indebted.

  4. In Mulaha’s period and for a long time after, many choice career opportunities attracted students looking for respectable permanent jobs. Beyond a career in the church as clergy or as a schoolteacher, one of the more attractive opportunities then was a career in the postal service.

  5. Although not in the same class, those from Maseno who were with him in his Mbagathi years included Eli Habwe and Raymond Odhuno. In their day these two rose to hold very high positions in their jobs.

  6. Under loving parental care and guidance, albeit from a meager financial base, these children were offered the type of preparation that would ensure that they made meaningful contributions to society in varied ways.

  7. On one hand, there was an Anglican church that was predominantly African, but its main language of operation was Kikuyu, with which he was not conversant. At the same time, there was another Anglican Church where English was the main medium of communication, but the members were predominately white Europeans. Although there was no display of overt racial discrimination, the overall social atmosphere seemed prohibitive of full participation in the affairs of the church for people like Mulaha.

  8. One of the cornerstones of the Holiness Movement theologically and historically is the emphasis on the possibility of leading a victorious and holy life as a Christian. In turn, it is understood that this process of being cleansed and sanctified is not dependent on mere human effort. Rather, it is achieved through a progression in which one who has already been saved is filled or baptized by the Holy Spirit in what is known as the second blessing. This designation in nomenclature is based on the belief and conviction that this experience is separate from, is additional to, and takes place subsequent to the first blessing of salvation or the new birth. This focus was a central element in the teaching of Mr. Finch and the Scriptural Holiness Mission.

  9. David B. Barrett, et al, eds. Kenya Churches Handbook: The Development of Kenyan Christianity, 1498-1973 (Kisumu, Kenya: Evangel Publishing House, 1973), 250.

  10. Throughout the history of Christianity, there have been powerful partnerships of differing levels in Christian work. Among the earliest were those of Barnabas and Saul, Paul and Silas, as well as Paul and Timothy. Later ones have included Cyril and Methodius, Francke and Spener, and the trio of the two Wesley brothers, John and Charles, together with their compatriot, Whitefield.

  11. Copy of the letter in author’s possession.

  12. An allusion to the role played by the Roving Team in Mulaha’s life can be detected from the letter he wrote on July 26, 2004, from P.O. Box 10, Londiani, and addressed to, “My Dearly Beloved Rovers.” He then goes on to open the letter with the words,

May our Dear Lord Jesus continue to abundantly bless you all! “Our God is ABLE to make all grace abound toward you that ye having all sufficiency in all things may abound unto every good work.” What a super abundant God we serve, no half measures with Him, if we do our part, He more than does His. (Copy of letter in author’s possession)

On this occasion, Mulaha was making this self-identification with the Roving Team, in the context of a productive and lasting relationship. He concluded the letter with the acknowledgement of the brotherly solidarity which God had engendered among the members of the team. In his own words, the first-hand news which Rev. Micah Amukobole had conveyed to him had encouraged him in showing “me your being in Fellowship. What has kept the Roving Team in love and unity is the Holy Ghost.”

  1. David Gacengeci, “Assistance on Mulaha,” 2.

  2. Ibid., 1.

  3. Elijah Akhahenda’s testimonial on “Rev. Gilbert Mulaha,” 3.

  4. There have been times when an emergency telephone call has been made to Mulaha’s house before six in the morning. When the family has checked on his whereabouts, they have failed to locate him in the bedroom or living room, because he has slipped away to pray in a secluded part of the house, or compound, as happened at the death of Archdeacon Julius Adoyo.

  5. Akhahenda, 3.

  6. Gacengeci, 5.

  7. At the end of an afternoon meeting, he has been known to begin counseling an individual who has come forward, as others go for break and on to supper, which he misses. He will then miss the evening meeting session in the course of continuing with his counseling. Finally, when the evening meeting is over, he emerges after many hours, rejoicing with a student who is celebrating spiritual victory, as happened once at Kapkenda Girls High School.

  8. Gacengeci, 3.

  9. Stephen Githumbi, “Mulaha’s Intervention in Meeting at Naivasha Girls.”

  10. (a), (b), (c), (d). Attested to as part of the factual “folklore” surrounding Mulaha’s life and ministry. Captured in the on-going Cross Road Circle Research Project, “The emergence of the Modern Pentecostal Movement in Kenya: The Maseno-Bunyore Axis, 1759-1974”. Most recent seminar workshop held on Saturday, February 26, 2011, at the United Kenya Club, Nairobi.

  11. Akhahenda, 1.

This article, which was received in 2011, was written and researched by Rev. Prof. Watson Omulokoli, Professor of Church History, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Kenyatta University, Kenya; Adjunct Professor, Akrofi-Christaller Institute, Accra, Ghana; and Chancellor, Africa International University, Nairobi, Kenya., and a recipient of the Project Luke Scholarship for 2010-2011.