Mwatha, Samuel Kang’ethe
The reality of the ascendancy of Pentecostalism world-wide has been widely acknowledged and chronicled in eminent scholarly circles.  Among those whose consciousness has been awakened to this phenomenon is Dr. Mark A. Noll, a scholarly giant of Western Christianity in general and American Christianity in particular. In what appears to be an astounding and sobering concession, he writes that, “today as much as one-fourth of all Christian adherents in the world are in some sense Pentecostal.”  He continues by pointing out that the consistent report with which Westerners are confronted from other parts of the world is that,
Most Christian experience reflects a much stronger supernatural awareness than is characteristic of even Charismatic or Pentecostal circles in the West…. In the world as it exists today, … with only some hyperbole, we might say that although some of the world’s new Christians are Roman Catholic, some Anglican, some Baptist, some Presbyterian and many independent, almost all are Pentecostal in a broad sense of the term. 
The compelling truth behind this commentary has also caught the attention of another scholar of essentially Western Christianity, Dr. Philip Jenkins. This has elicited from him the response contained in a passing comment in which he cursorily touches on Pentecostals and their current world-wide status. He points out that as a distinct group, “Pentecostals constitute a large proportion of the world’s newer Christian population. Since its origins in the early twentieth century, the Pentecostal movement now claims at least 350 million adherents world-wide.” 
Even in studies which focus on particular aspects of Christianity in Africa, either the looming shadow, or the brilliantly shining rays of the Pentecostal movement there are inescapable. This is reflected in an exposition of the East African Revival from an American perspective. There is an attempt to make a detour from the main course of the work by including a very brief section entitled, “Charismatic Renewal in East Africa.” Here, the book, A Gentle Wind of God: The Influence of the East Africa Revival, matter-of-factly and aptly captures at face value, the emergence and impact of the modern Pentecostal movement in East Africa. It states, “The 1970s marked the decade when Pentecostal and Charismatic churches grew by leaps and bounds. This siphoned off the large numbers of young people who had been converted and nurtured in the revival.” 
An Exemplary Life
As elsewhere in the world, Pentecostalism in Kenya has risen rapidly in numbers and in influence to a prominent status in the affairs of the church, as well as in the wider society. This has taken place over a prolonged period of time. Among those who have been in the forefront in this development is Samuel Kang’ethe Mwatha, senior pastor of All Nations Gospel Church, Gikomba, Nairobi, and bishop in the Pentecostal Evangelistic Fellowship of Africa (PEFA). His main contribution in this regard has been that of providing continuity in the Pentecostal movement over the years. This priceless element has in turn, arisen from such noble tenets of his character as his reliability, consistency, steadfastness, persistence, and dogged tenacity in the Christian life as well as in the Christian ministry.
In the wider context, Samuel Mwatha is one of the most prominent, respectable, senior statesmen in Kenyan society. Somehow, his name is not among those who dominate the public screen in the wider society in Kenya, nor is his identity high on the current ever-shifting public roster of Christian ministers in Kenya. All the same, this should not fool us, because, for those who have a keen knowledge of the Christian scene in Kenya, his prominence is as pronounced now as it was at the height of his long and fruitful ministry.
While on this point, it should be noted that being popular is not the same thing as being of substance and truly prominent. For Mwatha, there is a sense in which this brief sketch is not adequate. A deep and careful analysis of his life and ministry is overdue for he has had a tremendous impact and a lasting influence on the church in Kenya in general, and on the Pentecostal tradition in East Africa in particular.
From the time that he was saved in 1953, he has maintained a steady, consistent, and vibrant Christian life. Furthermore, once he entered the Christian ministry in 1956, he remained firmly focused and proved to be a shining example of persistence in the pursuit of his calling as a Christian minister. In the context in which he has served the church, Mwatha has emerged as a paragon of persistence, consistency, and longevity. These traits should endear him to the church throughout the world.
Operational Church Setting
Mwatha has been in the leadership of PEFA since he joined the church in July of 1962. At that time, the pioneer congregation in Nairobi was in the hands of Rev. Paul Johansson who was assisted by his wife Gloria. Since then, Mwatha has worked steadily in the affairs of the church from the local congregational foundation, through the national and regional network, and all the way to the Africa-wide platform.
Until 2009, Mwatha was the general overseer of PEFA, Kenya, a position he assumed in 2000, on the death of his predecessor, Rev. Erastus Otieno. At the same time, he serves, in 2011, as the chairman of the umbrella continent-wide All Africa PEFA Desk. In this latter capacity, he presides over the functions of the PEFA African Management Committee. At the local level in Kenya, he continues in his long-time role as the senior pastor of the PEFA All Nations Gospel Church, Gikomba, Nairobi. In all these endeavors, he has steered the PEFA Church to greater heights of spirituality, relevance, vigor, and vibrant growth.
Birth and Family Background
Samuel Mwatha Kang’ethe was born around 1930, and later took on April 15, 1931, as his official date of birth. He was born to Mr. Henry Kang’ethe Mwatha and Mrs. Peninah Wanja in Kaburugi village, in Muruka location, in the Maragua part of Murang’a, Kenya. He grew up as Samuel Mwatha Kang’ethe, with Mwatha being his primary name, since he received it from his father as the first-born son, in accordance with Kikuyu traditions and customs. Both his father, Henry, and his mother, Peninah, have passed away.
In the family line-up, he was the first of eight children. Seven of these were his mother’s, while the eighth one was born to a step-mother who died in childbirth complications. From then on, the child was raised up with all the other children by Mwatha’s mother as her very own. In later years, this child grew up in the home of the Mwathas, almost as their very own daughter, although in reality she was a step-sister to Mwatha. Her name is Rev. Josephine Kitonga, the wife of the founder and former head of the Redeemed Gospel Church, Bishop Arthur Kitonga. Prominent in her own right now, she is the senior pastor of the mother church of the Redeemed Gospel Church, Huruma, Nairobi, with a seating capacity of 10,000 people.
Initial Formal Education
Mwatha commenced his education at the local Naaro Presbyterian Primary School, in his home area in Murang’a. He was here until the Standard 8 class when he completed the prescribed primary level schooling of the time. From Naaro, he proceeded to secondary school education at Gachoka African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) School for the years 1948 to 1950. After Form 3 at Gachoka, he moved to Form 4 at Kandara Secondary School. It was here that he completed his secondary school studies in 1951. By all accounts, this means that Mwatha was a very highly educated young man by the formal educational standards of his day.
Professional Career Training and Employment
When the time came for Mwatha to choose a career, he opted for a technical trade and joined the Thika Technical Trade School in Thika to pursue a course in building construction. To this end, he attended Thika Technical Trade School between 1952 and 1955. He completed his training successfully and did an apprenticeship in the building trade. In later years, this basic professional training enabled Mwatha to be involved in building churches and houses over the years, especially in the PEFA fraternity. He also has assisted in monitoring the construction of some of the church’s projects.
On completion of his studies at the Thika Technical Trade School, Mwatha was employed at the Thika Horticultural Station in January of 1956. With keen interest and commitment, he enthusiastically threw himself into his work and was quickly becoming established there. However, barely three months into his employment at Thika Horticultural, he fell ill in the month of March. That same month his otherwise satisfying but brief stint here came to an abrupt end.
Salvation, Healing, and Career Shift
From March to May 1956, Mwatha was so ill that he was unable to work. Then, in May, God intervened and he was healed miraculously. Earlier, in 1953, Mwatha had been saved as a student at Thika Technical when a famed missionary of the Bible Fellowship Church in Thika, Miss Stella L. Ross, came to preach in the school. He responded to the message of salvation which she preached and accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.
Building on his experience of salvation, the critical turning point in his life came as a result of his miraculous healing. This divine occurrence of healing drastically altered the entire course of his life giving him a new spiritual focus and a different direction for his career. God used this event to prod him into the Christian ministry. When he recovered in May, instead of returning to his building career, he took the first steps towards involvement in the Christian ministry. Without abandoning the training and knowledge he had acquired, he now felt that he could incorporate these skills in full-time Christian service as a calling.
Following his recovery in May of 1956, he did not return to his job at the Thika Horticultural Station. Instead, he took up new employment at the Bible Fellowship Church in Thika. His job involved assisting Miss Ross in the Christian work that she was carrying out. He initially served in this capacity from June to December 1956. James Mwangi Maguru, the head of the assisting team, was one of the people he worked with.
Ministry Training and Pastoral Assignment
Having taken up Christian work as his new area of focus, Mwatha decided to enroll at Moffat Bible School in Kijabe to acquire training for the Christian ministry. He pursued his studies at this Africa Inland Church (AIC) institution between 1957 and 1959. At that time very few people with Mwatha’s educational background undertook such theological and ministerial studies, so this was an exceptional undertaking. This preparation also singled him out as unique in that he was part of a very small circle of individuals in this part of the world who combined a high level of formal education with theological and ministerial preparation.
After finishing his studies at Moffat, Mwatha returned to Thika as pastor in 1960 to serve the Bible Fellowship Church as it had been agreed because they had sponsored his studies. While carrying out pastoral work, he also served under the overall leadership of Miss Ross, but now as her principal helper. This arrangement continued until 1962 when what was, in retrospect, to be a major life-long change of direction occurred. This involved moving from Thika to Nairobi, and from the Bible Fellowship Church to a new Pentecostal group, the All Nations Gospel Tabernacle.
Linking With All Nations
From mid-1956, Mwatha had been associated with the Bible Fellowship Church in Thika in a working role. After his training at Moffat Bible School, he served in the church as a pastor from 1960 to 1962. In July of 1962, however, he reached a new decisive milestone when he left the church in Thika and joined the All Nations Gospel Tabernacle in Nairobi. This was a momentous change whose real revolutionary character was to unfold in the days ahead.
All Nations was then very new in Nairobi. At that time it was located on the present Ronald Ngala Street, then known as Duke Street. The church meetings were held in a go-down or warehouse store behind what used to be the Nathwani Petrol Station. The person in charge of this new Pentecostal work in Nairobi was Rev. Paul Johansson, and when Mwatha joined the church, it was agreed that he would work with and under him. For the next six years, Johansson and Mwatha worked as a team, moving from one venue to another. At each stage, the church grew in numbers and stability. For Mwatha, from the very beginning, he immersed himself so much in the church that his life became intertwined with that of the church. In this symbiotic relationship, the history of the church and Mwatha’s story go hand in hand and are best examined together.
Embracing Pentecostal Theology and Practice
Many people join Pentecostal groups or churches as a result of undergoing the definitive Pentecostal experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues. Many others espouse Pentecostal theology and practice after being associated with Pentecostal bodies for quite some time. Samuel Mwatha falls in the latter category. He joined All Nations in mid-1962 when he himself was not Pentecostal in the traditional understanding of the term. It was not until the following year that he was baptized in the Holy Spirit. This took place when the church was still at its original location on Ronald Ngala Street. This marks him out as one of those who were in the vanguard of the modern Pentecostal movement in Kenya.
Marriage and Family Life
On the home front, Mwatha is a very responsible family man, a loving husband and a caring father. He and his wife, Mary, married on April 15, 1961 in Thika. The Mwathas have four children, two sons and two daughters. In order of their ages, they are Wanja, Kang’ethe, Wanjiku, and Elijah. The Mwathas have taken special care to ensure that their children receive quality and competitive education.
One of PEFA’s luminaries, Bishop Moffat Kilioba, describes Mwatha as a deeply dedicated family man who is known to be a devoted and loving husband and father. With regard to his children, he encourages them to excel and rise to the highest level in every sphere of their lives. In all this, he steers them with tenderness and care in the spiritual dimension as a priority concern, to ensure vibrant spiritual growth and development in the family.
Mama Mary has been an integral partner in her husband’s Christian ministry, as well as in other spheres of his life. In this role, she has served and still serves as a powerful force behind the scenes. Although this is true at other venues, she is in her best element when she is extending hospitality in their home in the up-market Garden Estate locality of Nairobi.
PEFA Enters the Kenya Church Scene
The Pentecostal Evangelistic Fellowship of Africa (PEFA) was born out of a merger between two missionary agencies, Elim Missionary Assemblies (EMA) and International Pentecostal Assemblies Missions (IPAM). Both of these bodies were steeped in the theology and practices of classical or traditional Pentecostalism. These two were linked to parent churches in the U.S.A. Elim Missionary Assemblies is now Elim Fellowship and has their headquarters in Lima, New York. As for the International Pentecostal Assemblies, it is now known as the International Pentecostal Churches of Christ, with its headquarters located in London, Ohio. The combination body, PEFA came into being in 1962 when it was registered with the Kenya Government, after the parent missions released their respective churches into the merger.
In Kenya, there were two pioneer locations for PEFA, each representing one of the founding traditions. One was the Elim Bukuria Mission representing the work in Bukuria and Suna-Migori in southwestern Kenya, and the other was the IPA Kaimosi Mission representing work in western Kenya. These two churches merged to form PEFA.
In its present form, PEFA views itself in a four-fold manner. First and foremost, it is a Pentecostal entity whose self-image is that of “a vibrant Pentecostal church where the ministry Gifts of the Holy Spirit are in operation in the lives of the members.”  Secondly, it is Evangelistic and has embraced the mandate of preaching “the full Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ of Salvation, Healing, and baptism in the Holy Spirit.”  In the third instance, it is both a Fellowship of constituent churches as well as of individual believers in the common Body of Jesus Christ. Functioning “together, and in one like faith, they purpose to fulfill the ministries of the church.”  Fourthly, it is African and indeed sees itself as “an African Continental Church that has spread its wings across the world.” 
Initial Background History of PEFA
The Elim Missionary Assemblies (EMA) commenced its missionary endeavors in Kenya in 1945 when Rev. Arthur Dodzweit and Rev. Milburn J. (Bud) Sickler started the Elim Bukuria Mission among the Kuria. At the end of the Second World War, in July of 1945, their wives, May Dodzweit and Fay Sickler, together with another missionary, Mama Edith Knoll, joined them. The two missionary wives, May and Fay were actually twin sisters, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. O. C. Warren of Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.
In 1953, after working together for eight years in the Elim Bukuria Mission, the Dodzweits continued there while the Sicklers relocated to Mombasa, on the Kenyan coast, to take care of a guest house there. Soon after their arrival at Mombasa, the Sicklers started a church on Tanga Road which they named “The Gospel Hall.” In these beginnings, they gathered together three unsaved workers, from the missionary guest house as the first participants of their congregation. Such was the humble beginning of the later gigantic Elim Evangelistic Church, Makupa, in Mombasa.
The origins of PEFA work in Nairobi were also from the Elim Bukuria Mission through its extension at Suna, in Migori (or Suna-Migori). Out of the first Bukuria Mission founded in 1945, a second station of Elim was started at Suna in 1949. One of the Elim missionaries, Paul Johansson, was at Suna briefly before moving to Nairobi in the early 1960s to pioneer work in this cosmopolitan city. In these foundational days, one of those who assisted Johansson in the work was Chacha Omahe from Bukuria. There was also Nathaniel Jullu from the Suna ststion. It has been noted that, “Under the able ministries of these brethren the work in Nairobi began to grow steadily.” 
This was the state of affairs when Mwatha, as a young man, joined Johansson and his team. They labored together in a fruitful ministry which “saw the great harvest which resulted in the founding of the All Nations Gospel Church in Nairobi.”  In his recollections, Mwatha identifies Chacha Omahe as one of the key people in Johansson’s team when he joined All Nations. He was there on a more continuous and permanent basis as others came and went. This was not the case with Nathaniel Jullu. Although he also assisted in Nairobi occasionally during special meetings, his main permanent station was actually at Suna, Migori, in southwestern Kenya.
Mwatha’s Participation in the Early Stages
Following beginnings on Duke Street (now Ronald Ngala), they relocated to the Rahimtulla Hall, on present day Mfangano Streeet, in 1964, and remained there until 1967. The relocation and the subsequent stability that came with it gave the church impetus and momentum. During this period of up-swing the major transfer to a more permanent location was made in 1968.
This new more permanent location to which All Nations moved in 1968 was at Gikomba. The site was on a plot which had been allocated to them by the Nairobi City Council. It is here that they built All Nations Gospel Church. Once the building of the church was complete, it was officially opened during the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Crusade of 1968. As it turned out, this insignificant and fledgling church was destined to be the real seed-bed of the major thrust that would identify All Nations as a pioneer flourishing center of the modern Pentecostal movement in Kenya.
From the time that he joined All Nations in 1962, Mwatha became a permanent feature of the church. He was a most able and trusted lieutenant of Rev. Johansson, serving under him with utter devotion and faithfulness as his assistant. When the original congregation was in its early stages at its initial location on Ronald Ngala Street in the years 1962 to 1964, the attendance was generally about twenty to twenty-five people. The numbers increased steadily over the years. As a result, by the time they moved to Rahimtulla Hall on Mfangano Street, there were over fifty people in the church. As the church grew more at Rahimtulla, the attendance averaged over 200 people when the church moved to the new location at Gikomba in 1968.
The Impact of All Nations
For the uninitiated, there is nothing remarkable about the history or tradition of All Nations Gospel Church, Gikomba, considered a relatively unattractive locality. The truth of the matter is that during the hard times of sowing and toiling on the Christian landscape in Nairobi, All Nations proved to be both the beachhead and the beacon of hope for those who were zealous for the things of God. From the time All Nations established itself at Gikomba and on the church scene in Nairobi in the late 1960s and early 1970s it has become one of the most influential centers of the Pentecostal movement in East Africa and a landmark of Christianity in Kenya. In this connection, the names of those who have passed through its ranks in its pioneer period read like the Who’s Who of early modern Pentecostalism in Kenya.
In 1969, Johansson left Kenya and returned to the U.S.A., which put Mwatha at the helm of the church. In this capacity, he helped maintain All Nations as one of the premier Pentecostal forces in Nairobi into the 1970s.
Other powerful centers of Pentecostal witness did not emerge until the early 1970s to establish themselves in the mid to late 1970s. On one level, All Nations was the preferred “watering point” of most progressive and upcoming Pentecostal enthusiasts of the late 1960s and the early 1970s. Examples abound of prominent new Christian arrivals in Nairobi who used All Nations to stabilize themselves in their Christian walk and work before they found their bearing in the city. For others, it was the launching pad from which they were hoisted to even greater Christian ministries. On this score, the classic cases are those of the pioneer leaders of Deliverance Church, on one hand, and the Redeemed Gospel Church on the other hand, with the genesis of the latter being much more intricately tied to All Nations than the former.
Aside from its overall influence and impact as a church, All Nations has given birth to the entire network of PEFA churches in Nairobi as well as in far-flung areas of Kenya. From this perspective, All Nations is viewed as the mother church in the PEFA fraternity. The closest in comparable influence in PEFA circles are the related outposts in Mombasa, Bukuria, Migori, and Kaimosi. Through the efforts of All Nations, there is now a thriving outgrowth of its work in Nairobi and its environs. In terms of physical structures and numerical size, a number of branch churches are as big, if not bigger than, All Nations.
Team Effort Under Mwatha
Mwatha has many responsibilities at various levels in the wider PEFA structure to date. All the same, he has maintained a clear focus on his foundational role as the pastor at All Nations, Gikomba, from the time he succeeded Johansson to the present. While at the helm of the church at the local level, he has not carried out the work there in isolation but has employed two systems of team support to help him in the various tasks. Because of this approach, any achievements made at this local level and the attached extensions are the results of team work.
First, throughout his tenure of leadership, other pastors have worked alongside him in the various duties. In the initial years, he served as pastor with others as assistant pastors. Later, he became the senior pastor, with the others serving as full-fledged pastors, but under his leadership. This is the pattern which has been maintained and has persisted even to the present. Secondly, Mwatha has always relied heavily on a group of elders in steering the affairs of the church and its ministry. Since this system is a permanent feature of the church, it has proved crucial in providing stability and continuity regardless of any changes in the pastoral equation. This pattern began in the days of Pastor Johansson when Mwatha was assisting him. At that time a number of very capable and strong elders teamed up with the pastors in the work.
When Johansson left Kenya, Mwatha remained as the sole pastor of the nascent church at Gikomba. There were two early satellite congregations that emerged outside of Gikomba: Kibera, with Reuben Odongo in charge, and Dandora, under the care of Ezekiel Kambi. Others who distinguished themselves working with Mwatha included Chacha Omahe, Phinehas Anuna Omuhambe, Timothy Ochiel, Sylvester Onyango Khakali, Shem Oloto, and Opiyo, among many others. Together with these indigenous leaders, the church benefited for a considerable period of time from the partnership of one expatriate missionary, George Lindsay. As the environment had changed with Africans now in control of the affairs of the church, Lindsay behaved as an admirable Christian servant who was flexible enough to take on whatever assignment the leadership of the church gave him.
Layout and Growth of PEFA
From small beginnings in the 1950s, PEFA has established itself in a number of countries and is spreading and branching out to wider territory in Africa. Over the years, PEFA has been gaining its greatest momentum in the major countries of Eastern and Central Africa. However, there is increasing interest in other countries outside this block. Where work has already been established, one of the brightest spots in terms of numerical growth is the Democratic Republic of Congo. The PEFA boasts major presence in the following countries: The Democratic Republic of Congo with 7,000 churches, Uganda with 1,600 churches, Tanzania with 1,100 churches, Burundi with 500 churches, Rwanda with thirteen churches, and Kenya with 3,000 churches.
In the PEFA set-up, greater Nairobi area alone has about eighty churches, divided into six constituent districts for the purposes of coordination and administration. Among the churches, the largest ten or so have an average attendance of more than 500 people each on Sundays. The leading ones include Gikomba (3,000), Donholm (3,500), Githurai Kimbo (3,000), Dandora (2,000), Githurai (700), Kibera (500), and Nairobi South B (500). Apart from being head of the larger continent wide umbrella body, Mwatha has been until recently the general overseer of Kenya, the overall leader in Nairobi, while continuing as the senior pastor of his original church at Gikomba. In the midst of all these demanding responsibilities, he carries himself with calmness, composure, and Christian confidence.
Setting Apart Indigenous Churches
Over the years, PEFA has endeavored to promote self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and sound sustainability for every one of its churches. To this end, it has devised a system of recognizing its leading churches when they achieve full indigenous status. The first church to come under this arrangement was the mother church of All Nations, Gikomba. Since then, two others have come to the same level. The second one was the PEFA or All Nations Gospel Church at Donholm. Then, in 2007, the Githurai Kimbo All Nations Gospel Church achieved this status. 
A Legacy of Persistence and Longevity
Although Mwatha has contributed to the establishment, growth, and well-being of PEFA on the wider front, his ministry has had a great impact in Nairobi and its environs as well as the eastern Africa region. In this connection, his greatest contribution is the inspiration derived by others from the mere fact of his longevity and continuity in the Christian life, as well as in Christian ministry and service. This is measured, not so much in his actions, activities, and accomplishments, as in providing a continuous enabling environment in which the church has thrived, and others have operated and contributed.
While working with PEFA, Mwatha has earned wide acceptance and respect in the larger Christian fraternity in Kenya. At the peak of his Christian ministry, no major broad-based Christian gathering or evangelistic campaign was carried out in Nairobi or, for that matter, in Kenya, without Mwatha being in the central planning, steering, and implementation organ. In many cases, if the conjoined endeavor had a Pentecostal character, he was elected chairman of the central body. An apt example in the early stages of such involvement was the pivotal role he played in the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Crusade of 1968 in Nairobi. Today he is often included in an ad hoc inter-church caucus of elder clergy statesmen who come together for consultation on broad national issues when occasion necessitates.
An eminent leader in PEFA, Bishop Moffat Kilioba, who has worked closely with Mwatha, and who knows him intimately has given a fitting conclusive assessment of Mwatha’s life and ministry. First, he points out that he has excelled as a committed, compassionate, and competent counselor who is much sought after by the young and old, single and married, for advice in various life circumstances. Through this avenue, he has been of assistance in reconciling troubled married couples. In another direction, he has brought together warring and opposing groups, helping them make settlements which are anchored in and reflect the Christian faith. Secondly, in his commitment to fostering leadership, Mwatha has shown himself to be a great motivator who works hard to enable those under his charge, as well as others, to make tremendous strides in their lives and work.
In the sphere of wider leadership in the church, Mwatha has been immensely successful in providing focused, steady, and progressive leadership. He provides a positive example of the kind of level-headed elder Christian statesmen that the church in Africa sorely needs more than ever before in its leadership. Kilioba has partially captured this contribution in his concluding summary as follows,
Mzee Mwatha has given clear leadership to the Fellowship (PEFA) with greater impact in Nairobi, Central Province, Eastern, and part of the Rift Valley. After serving the Fellowship for more than twenty years in the role of assistant general overseer, he ascended to the helm of general overseer of PEFA Kenya Leadership. He has held this position for eight years. His impact has been felt across Africa and he is regarded as a father to PEFA churches that have spread to many countries of Africa, including Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of Congo [Belgium Congo], Zambia, Cameroon, Angola, the Central African Republic, and South Africa. He is persuasive and firm in his leadership approach. He is a servant leader who is reputed to be workaholic. Fully aware of the present and the future, he allows the people around him to develop their talents and expand the scope of their ministry.
The author, Watson Omulokoli, and the subject of this write-up, Bishop Samuel Mwatha, have known each other since they served together on the organizing committee of the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Crusade, “Expect a Miracle,” in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1968. For the purposes of this write-up, the author conducted several personal interviews with Bishop Mwatha, both in his office at the PEFA headquarters, Nairobi, and at his home in Garden Estate, Nairobi. Two PEFA clergymen, Bishop Moffat Kilioba and Rev. Paul Munyiri, were particularly helpful in providing insider insights on Bishop Mwatha’s life and ministry. Also useful to a limited extent was another PEFA clergyman, Rev. Peter Randa.
Mark A. Noll, The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2009), 76.
Philip Jenkins, The New Faces of Christianity: Believing in the Bible in the Global South (New York, Oxford University Press, 2006), 12.
Richard K. MacMaster, A Gentle Wind of God: The Influence of the East Africa Revival (Scottsdale, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 2006), 271.
Pentecostal Fire: A Publication of All Africa PEFA Desk. Vol. 1, April, 2005. Nairobi, Pentecostal Evangelistic Fellowship of Africa (PEFA Kenya), 2005, ii. This is the main written reference source.
The process for reaching this status is as follow: When assessment is complete and a decision has been made on a particular church, a program is entered into towards setting it apart from the general PEFA structure of governance. While still an intrinsic part of the family and entire fold of PEFA, it is granted a status of autonomy. The key distinctive areas in this category include being independent in leadership, finances, development, and outreach ministry. This is equivalent to the classical “three selfs” of Henry Venn, that is, “self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating.” Beyond being able to stand on its own in every way, it is of paramount importance that such a church should be ready to take practical steps to assist outlying weaker churches, and establish new churches elsewhere. With his practical bent, Mwatha has been a central figure in the essence, as well as in all stages of the implementation of this grand scheme.
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.