I last heard Bishop Peter Njiri preach at the International Christian Centre, Mombasa Road, some time last year. A diminutive man, what the Kenya Assemblies of God General Superintendent and Chancellor of KAG East University lacked in height, he compensated in a commanding voice and concise understanding and dissemination of the gospel.
There is no doubt that if you ever sat at the man’s feet you would leave the place feeling you have received a message from God. A humble man whose love for God and godly things was evident the first time you met him, Bishop Njiri was many a congregation’s darling.
WHIFF OF SCANDAL
It is instructive that in an age where preachers are better known for their opulent lifestyles and one scandal after another, not a whiff of a scandal passed the man’s way, thus reinforcing the faltering faith among many believers that there are still men and women of God who can be trusted.
Bishop Njiri often told the story of receiving only a Bible and a constitution from pioneer Assemblies of God missionaries Jimmy Beggs, Del Kingsriter, and Glenn Ford. He would laugh as he remembered, “and that constitution was only three or four pages long.”
From its beginnings in 1973 with around 300 congregations, the KAG has grown to over 3,600 reporting churches and many preaching points, 35 districts led by 35 district superintendents, about 4,000 pastors, 21 extension Bible schools and a vibrant KAG Sacco with over 14,000 members with a net worth of Sh840 million; a chartered Christian university (KAG East University) and many community primary schools including Watta primary and secondary schools in Sombo, Garissa and Precious Kids Academy — Illeret.
Bishop Njiri was born on August 28, 1951 at Bathi village, Lari in Kiambu County. He joined Mbauini Primary School in Kiambu County in 1957. He later transferred to Magina Primary school in 1965. After his primary school certificate, he Joined Lari Secondary School. Njiri later went to Arusha Bible School in Tanzania where he was trained as a minister of the gospel before marrying Naomi.
Immediately after their wedding, the couple was sent to Isiolo as missionaries. After six months they went to Maralal in the same capacity.
Bishop Njiri was known for his generous contributions to the church and his clarion call was, “You can never give to God and become poor.” Those who know him say he was always touched by the needs of the people and took to another level the scripture which proclaims that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
The bishop was heavily involved in the works of charity, giving his prime five-acre piece of land to the Kenya Assemblies of God where the Kenya Kids, a ministry to the destitute children, is built. According to the family, the bishop had a long list of elderly people to whom he would send monthly stipend out of his own pocket, as well as paying school fees to needy children.
Besides being a faithful minister of the gospel, Bishop Njiiri was also an astute businessman with interests in farming, water bottling, oil, transport, dry cleaning and printing.
It is this business acumen that he inculcated in the Kenya Assemblies of God faithful which in turn ensured the ministry never lacked.
Not a man to shy away from handling the hot topics of the day when faced with them, Dr Njiri was uncompromising in asking the government to compensate the victims of the Kiambaa KAG church where 30 worshippers were burnt alive at the height of the 2008 post-election violence.
He said the church would build a memorial chapel at the spot. Most of those who knew him mourned Njiri as a great man of God.
Dr Njiri, who passed on July 17 and was interred last Monday at his Kitengela farm, got glowing tributes from all over the globe, attesting to the stature he held in the church, both in Kenya and globally.
His wife, Naomi, said: “Our beginning was indeed very humble. By the grace of God we made it. Though your influence was immense, you never looked down upon me. You always cherished my counsel.
Public relations practitioner Lizzy Yogo said: “A general has taken a bow! This is the one who led me to Christ and later on baptised me. Till we meet again at the feet of Jesus!"
Dr Njiri is survived by his wife Naomi, three children - Wilfred, Mercy and Mark - and six grandchildren - Xenia, Bredan, Ethan, Joshua, Kirsten and Jessica.