Mathia Faith Partnership

Our link with Mathia Church continues in faith. The congregation of our Kenyan partners write that “We feel that we have every good reason to share.. [the celebration of Easter].. with you.”
Previously, Mathia in Kiangai Parish, was one of 12 congregations looked after by the Reverend Erastus. Now, after reorganisation, there are 5 congregations, and in the near future the Presbytery will move to a time of “the Right to Call”, when every parish will be allowed to call a minister of their own choosing, with a ten year maximum tenure. In another initiative, the PCEA (Presbyterian Church of East Africa) office of the General Assembly has decided that an age limit of 35-59 years should be applied to the post of Synod Moderator.
Three quarters of the church building reconstruction undertaken at Mathia is now complete, and how big it looks too from the pictures we have received. A bigger church is needed for a growing congregation. Max West helped with cash donations to help purchase tiles and cement for their new building.
Our annual Bursary Fund of £1000 which assists Mathia young people with their higher education fees is still continuing. Over the years, this Bursary Fund has assisted a total of 18 young graduates. Higher education is much in demand in Kenya, as their young people seek to give their knowledge and talents back to their society.
Mathia congregation, through their Chairman and Senior Elder, John Njeru, who has visited us twice here at Max West, wishes us “All the best in all that you do. May God bless you” – a blessing which we, in return, send to our partners and friends in Mathia.                                                                                                                   D J

Kenyan Visit to Mathia

November 20, 2013


During our stay in Mathia we were hosted by John Njeru Karuoya and his wife Esther.  John is the Senior Elder and Chairperson of Mathia Church and he stayed with us during his visit to Maxwelltown West in August last year.  They and their lovely granddaughter, Gabrielle – Gabby, made us feel at home and during the next few days we had long conversations with John and his colleagues relating to the traditions, culture and religion of his country. Mathia is one of twelve churches in the Parish of Kiangai, part of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) and its sole minister; Rev Erastus Mbaka Beta has considerable responsibility.   We visited the manse and took the opportunity to present him with a Laptop provided by the Scottish Water Board who actively support Water Aid and other projects like our own.  Unfortunately, Rev Erastus was unable to be present in Church on the Sunday but he was extremely pleased with this demonstration of support which will assist him in the administration of the Parish.

There are five elders in Mathia congregation, each being assisted by four/five deacons and they are expected to keep close contact with the folk in their district assisting family life where possible.  They have responsibility to supervise services and members of the congregation are invited to participate.  John’s wife Esther convened the service we attended and another member of the congregation provided the Address.  The hymns included Amazing Grace, When we Walk with God sung to Cwm Rhondda, Make Me a Channel of your Peace and What a Friend we have in Jesus sung by the ladies of the Guild with one lady – Harriet – being over 100 years of age.

The atmosphere in the church was of people living and proclaiming their faith, and singing with enthusiasm.  When the Guild finished their hymn ‘Young’ Harriet let forth in Swahili and while we did not understand the rough translation was to let the Bible be their guide.  During the service we again presented the Laptop to the congregation and we brought greetings from Max West and thanked them for being asked to join in their service.  On a different occasion we also handed over several King James Bibles and three CDs of same.

The ministers in the PCEA are moved around every five years with Rev Erastus having completed just over three years in his current post.  With his encouragement the dozen members of the Boys Brigade that we saw four years ago has increased to a Boys/Girls Brigade of sixty all in smart blue uniform and wearing hats!  There are eighty children in the Sunday School and thirty in the Youth Club.

There are a number of committees and organisations including Deacons, Woman’s Guild, Youth Fellowship, Church School, Education, Boys/Girls Brigade, Evangelism, Health, Development, Justice/Peace/Reconciliation, Men’s Fellowship and an Intercession Group.  The small church that was used four years ago has disappeared and the larger new church is now almost completed having been started prior to our last visit.  They have curtains from floor to ceiling in the curved Chancel Area, with the Communion Table and two Lecterns on a slightly raised section – altogether something they can be proud of – and something created without the support of their Presbytery.

Education has a high priority in Kenya with many new universities constructed in the last twenty years and accordingly a number of young members of Mathia go on to further education and they are pleased and proud that Max West has assisted over thirty of them to be able to attend university.

When we asked how we could continue to support them their answer was

  1. a) help with the students
  2. b) provide cement
  3. c) provide sand

to enable them to complete the gable end of the Church.

We left an enthusiastic, forward-looking Church, who value our contribution and who perhaps could be an inspiration for our own church.

Psalm 147 :1      Praise the Lord.  How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him.


September 2013

Thanks to improved electronic connections and mobile phones our links with Mathia have become stronger.  Senior elder John writes “It is with much joy I send warm greetings to the congregation of Max West from my family and Mathia Church.  We are constantly praying for your Presbytery to help you find a new Minister”.

Mathia church is running well and the congregation is growing in size.  In fact their large parish will be sub-divided on 8th September with the Moderator of the General Assembly presiding.  Mathia will then have five congregations and Kagumo parish will have seven congregations.  This will give Rev Erastus more time with Mathia which they are all looking forward to.  John tells us the cost of this division is high therefore the completion of their new larger church will be delayed yet again.

Bursary grants from our own fundraising over the past five years have enabled over thirty young people into senior education and university.  This November four people will graduate and five others continue their studies.  Our help has been greatly appreciated and we hope it will continue for some time to come.

The WCT is aware of the wider World Mission work and traditionally Max. West has been involved with The Christian Aid door to door collection for many years.   The theme for this year was “Bite Back at Hunger” and organised by Heather Johnson with over 20 collectors in the parish.  They raised £2,676 – a wonderful result for which we are indebted to everyone who donated and collected.

In September Ian and Rosemary Slack have decided to return to Bondo for the third time and Mathia for the second time.     The WCT is very grateful to them and look forward to their first hand news which will be reported to the congregation as well.

Some parting words from John Njeru Karuoya  “What you do for yourself dies with you, but what you do for others will live for ever”.                                                    A D

March 13, 2013

Mathia:  Our links with Mathia Church started over five years ago.  In that time we have twice welcomed visitors from our partner church in Kenya and representatives of the World Church Team visited Mathia in 2009.  Our abiding memory from these visits is of their rock-solid, unshakeable faith in the Lord.  Our partnership with Mathia is mainly based on a sharing of faith.  However, we have assisted in the purchase of materials to enable the congregation to extend their ever-growing church building and each year we contribute to their Bursary Fund to assist their young people to continue their higher education studies.  Both of these “gifts” are in our ongoing Gift Scheme.  The highlight for John Njeru and Banice Wanjiku during their visit last year was meeting our own young people, whether in Church groups, members of our uniformed organisations, or in schools or College.

Our link with Mathia is a very positive one and we were delighted and humbled to receive many heartfelt greetings from their congregation over the Christmas and New Year period. Our links with both of our Kenyan projects continue to grow stronger each year.                                                                                                             D J

December 5, 2012

Greetings from John and Banice, now safely home in Mathia, Kenya

John writes, “We thank the entire Max West church for the lively welcome and warm hospitality we received from everyone at church and in the organisations we visited.  It was wonderful for us to meet so many people and to participate in your services which we did not expect or take for granted.  This made Banice and I feel part of your church family.  Especially thanks to Rev. Liz Mack who was a real blessing to us.”

The feedback from this visit has been positive in both directions; sharing worship, concerns and fellowship has built on our friendship and trust with each other for the future.  Higher education is greatly sought after in Kenya.  The people in our partner church in Mathia see an increasing need for higher education for their children.  Since 2009, we at Maxwelltown West have sent a bursary of £1,000 each year which has enabled Mathia students to take advantage of higher education courses at a number of universities.  To date, five students have successfully graduated, with a further nine students continuing their studies.  Here are examples of Mathia students who have benefitted from the bursary:

Washington Kimari Mwariki (University of Nairobi) “I have already received from you 19,500 KS (approx. £160) to help me pay for my fees in my first semester.  I’m so appreciative for your support which has given me hope……..”

Alex Njeru (graduated Dec. 2011 – Moi University – B.Com Tourism, Business and Management) “You have played a major role in my education.  Grateful thanks”

Geoffrey Mania (graduated  Dec. 2011 – Egerton University – B. Business and Management Accountancy)  “May He who gives, expand forthwith and nourish your helping hands”.

Boniface Murangi Wachira (4th year, Moi University – B. Tourism/Management) “I wish to chase my dream by starting up a small firm in tourism – maybe facilitating a visit from Maxwelltown West!”

Vivian Wairimu Mwiraki (3rd year, Moi University – BSc Applied Stats.) “Your contribution has helped me pay for some courses that can be of value to my degree.  Thank you.”

Josephine M Murang (Egerton University – graduated BSC Animal Science, now pursuing a Masters in Animal Welfare) “You provided a light of hope for financing my studies.”

James Gakum Mathenge (final year, Kenyata University – BSc Management) “Thank you to everyone at Max West.”

Mwaniki Derix Gichohi (2nd year, Kanyata  University – BSc Economics)  “The skills and knowledge will be vital to bringing long-term solutions to the problems facing my country.”

Pricilla Wamithia Nyaguthii (graduated Dec. 2011 – Kenyatta University – B. Com.) “Thank you for your support and willingness to help others”

A gift from our Alternative Christmas catalogue of £20 will enable a Mathia student to fund one semester at university.

These young people are the future for their country.  We in turn can play a small part in that future.

Thank you for your support for these young people.

P.C.E.A. Mathia Report

September 3, 2012

The Presbyterian Church of East Africa (P.C.E.A) Mathia Church is situated in Kirinyaga County, Central Kenya.  It’s about 4 kilometres from Mount Kenya Forest and you can have a clear view of Mount Kenya and its snow.

The church is in Mount Kenya Region, Kirimara East P{resbytery, Kiangai Parish.  Our parish minister, Rev Erastus Mbaka, is currently the Presbytery Moderator.  The church has six Districts and five District Elders.  We have 150 church members and 80 school and brigade children.

All the ten church groups are active.  They are:
1. P.C.M.F. –  Presbyterian Church Men’s Fellowship
2. Development
3. Women’s Guild
4. Youth Brigade
5. Church School
6. Education
7. Health
8. Evangelism
9. J.P.R.C. –  Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Committee

Church History

The P.C.E.A. Mathia was started in 1972 by very few members who built a small prayer house that was just enough for them and their needs.  As time went by, we felt the desire to grow due to the increase and growth of members.

In the process of building our church, we covered almost 70% of the church structure.  In all this, we are grateful to our well wishers and friends who have played a major role in providing the necessary funds to aid in the building project.

We continue to see to it that our vision of having a complete church becomes a reality.  We intend to hold a fund raising on the 1st Sunday of November (4th November 2012) to aid in raising 9000 Dollars to be used in the building project.


We are grateful to have found good partners with Maxwelltown West Church in Dumfries which started in the year 2007.  We have greatly benefited from your invitation and having accommodated us for two weeks which the church appreciated.

During our stay in your town, we aired our views on our increasing need for high education for our children and with open ears, you readily readily assisted in providing education (University Education) and in the process 5 children have successfully graduated from our public universities and 7 are still continuing.

We would like to highly appreciate our dear, late Reverend Gordon for having facilitated the programme that dealt with providing basic education and we hope that his successor Reverend Liz Mack will continue and uphold what Gordon started.

A few years back a member of your church came to Kenya and visited for two weeks.  We had a wonderful time and were happy and we are hoping soon you will visit again..

In this month of August, two of our church members John and Banice will be visiting and it’s our hope that the exchange programme will be of benefit to both congregations.

It has been a great thing to have partners who care and share a faith that is similar i.e. Jesus Christ.  All we do is continue and keep up what He who is the author and finisher of our faith.  We are so grateful for your support and we hope our partnership will go to greater heights.

Rev Erastus Mbake
Mathia Church


May 2012: Mathia Church, our Faithshare Partners, is sending two people to visit us this June.  They are keen to meet as many church and community people as possible, exchange ideas and learn about each other.  We look forward to welcoming back John Njeru Karuoya who visited us in 2009 and who spoke to the church on Christmas Eve by the live link.

He is the senior elder and main contact person with us.  He is a small time farmer growing tea and vegetables as well as serving his church and being involved in youth activities.  He is currently a member of Kiangai Secondary School Board of Governors.  His wife Esther leads the Guild, is also an elder and they have two sons and one grandchild.
The lady visitor is Bernice Wanjiku Kabath, a retired teacher now operating a hardware business in the nearby town of Karatina.  She is married to Francis and they have three children, now all graduated from university.

The WCT is currently planning an interesting programme which will give you all an opportunity to meet our Kenyan friends, so please watch the church notices and do come to some events as well as meeting them at church.

Mathia: Rev Erastus Mbaka, parish minister of Mathia Church, sends greetings and reports that the congregation is increasing in number, especially the youth.  He is happy that John has been elected as chairman of the Church, as John is “committed in all fields concerning the Church activities” and asks us to continue praying for him as he is the co-ordinator of the partnership as well as Church chairman.  Prayers are also requested for the country as a whole as it has been hit by serious disasters.  They too are praying for “Rev Gordon” and send us all the text from James 5:7-20.

Their students, Alex, Geoffrey, Josephine and two others are now awaiting their graduations and he thanks us for the support we have given them.

He finishes with “May God bless you mightily as you continue to make any other arrangements for this partnership.”                                                                          A D


World Church Team – Disaster in Kenya

As you will probably know from the media, Kenya is facing a national disaster with a strong drought.  People and animals are dying along with thousands of refugees pouring in from Somalia.  Our friends in Mathia and Bondo are both reporting hard times.

John from Mathia tells of basic commodities costing double the normal prices.  Their tea bushes which are the main earners are dying from lack of water which they cannot afford to buy!

Sadly, John’s father has died.  Thanks for condolences sent on behalf of our church.  Grandad Keroya was host to Wilson on his visit and a former soldier in the Kenya Rifles during the 2nd World War.

Four of our university students whom we have helped for the past two years are due to graduate soon and another five are continuing.  The new term begins in September with further funding for them of £1,000 to be sent.  Mathia Church send grateful thanks, appreciation and many blessings for this support.

Julie Smith and Sharon Fyall’s Charity Run in aid of our two Kenyan projects raised a wonderful total of £850.00.  Congratulations and grateful thanks to both ladies.


World Mission Live Link
March 10, 2012

The Christmas Eve service proved a great success with Rev. Liz Mack leading worship and members of all our organisations taking part.  The highlight for many was a first for Max West, when we were able to speak to our Kenyan friends at Mathia Church live and exchange Christmas greetings.
This was made possible through the expertise of Douglas McLaren setting up speakers for all to hear and David Johnson, who arranged the link and spoke to John Njeru and passed on our Christmas messages and blessings to Mathia church.
Pictures from Mathia were shown on the screen of our people’s last visit, students who received help through our bursary and their new church which they are anxious to complete due to a growing congregation.
We have funding in place from Church of Scotland World Exchange for a visit and hope to welcome two people from Mathia here in June.

December 4, 2011

Mathia: Rev Erastus Mbaka, parish minister of Mathia Church, sends greetings and reports that the congregation is increasing in number, especially the youth.  He is happy that John has been elected as chairman of the Church, as John is “committed in all fields concerning the Church activities” and asks us to continue praying for him as he is the co-ordinator of the partnership as well as Church chairman.  Prayers are also requested for the country as a whole as it has been hit by serious disasters.  They too are praying for “Rev Gordon” and send us all the text from James 5:7-20.

Their students, Alex, Geoffrey, Josephine and two others are now awaiting their graduations and he thanks us for the support we have given them.

He finishes with “May God bless you mightily as you continue to make any other arrangements for this partnership.”


May 20, 2011

Although we are now almost in summer, I would like to convey to you the Easter greetings and many blessings sent to all at Maxwelltown West from our friends in Mathia and Bondo.  They greatly value their connection with us.

Grateful thanks to everyone who supported our coffee morning in March to assist with travel and the visit from Winnie in Bondo.  The excellent sum of £850.65 was raised.  We hope to receive Winnie on 5th June and she will stay with I and R Slack, as their guest.

A programme is planned for her to meet as many church people as possible at her request.  We hope you will be free to come along and hear her latest news.  The date of a social evening will be announced through the church intimations quite soon.  The new Mathia Church is progressing slowly and it seems our donation has helped to install the windows.

The BB members should all have hats now, bought as our gift after our visitors to Kenya reported that only a few of the boys owned hats.  They like to raise their hats and cheer when required.  A photograph has been promised soon.

The World Church Team hopes you will be able to meet with Winnie very soon.                                                                                                                                            A D


December 5, 2010

One of the memorable acts of fellowship that we were part of during our visit to Mathia, Kenya was an afternoon spent at the Ndina Tea Factory workers’ wing accommodation. Here in the welcoming company of many of the workers and their families, we heard a moving account by a young student of Veterinary Studies of how the Maxwelltown Bursary Fund had helped her in her chosen career. Here was the fund “brought to life”. I know that we were all inspired and humbled by what we heard that afternoon in such company.

This year’s Bursary Fund has been shared by nine young people from Mathia in higher education.  Here is information on seven of the students which I thought would be of interest: Alex Karuoya Njeru – John and Esther’s eldest son is in his fourth year at Maseno University undertaking a BSc in Ecotourism, Hotel and Institutional Management.  “The money has seen me through the journey of my academic life, enabling my parents to have an easier time managing my expenses for the school and my brother’s High School fees.  Thank you once again”.

James Gakua Mattenge: at Kenyatta University studying for a Bachelor of Commerce Degree: “These funds have seen me in payment of some part of my fees and also purchasing reading materials. Thank you and may God bless you abundantly”. Prisaua Wamartha: a second year at Kenyatta University studying for a degree in Commerce “May God be with you in everything you do”.  Josephine Mwangi: Student at Egerton University studying for a BSc. In Animal Science. Josephine is in her final year and her dream is to one day be one of the researchers in animal genetics. “Thanks to the financial assistance of Maxwelltown West Church I can see this dream becoming reality”. Vivian Mwihaki: is in his second year at Moi University studying for a degree in Applied Statistics with Computing. “By God’s grace I believe I will excel. God bless you and thank you”. Geoffrey Maina: is a fourth year student at Egarton University studying for a BSc. in Commerce. He hopes go on to study for an MBA after graduation. “Being an orphan your donation has been a great aid to my guardian as the burden of school fees has been eased. You have greatly transformed my academic life”.

Heartfelt thanks to all who contributed to the Bursary Fund. Alex Njeru says that the mission of the young leaders of Mathia Church is to strive to make this world a better place. The Youth section of Mathia Church- members up to the age of 25 – is a thriving organisation, with 62 of their representatives due to attend a Youth Conference shortly. In a recent e-mail, Alex, son of John Njeru who visited us in 2008, asked if any of our young people were interested in making contact with the Mathia Church young people. Please contact me if you would like to be involved.

On Sunday 31st October 2010 Mathia Church is holding a Gift Day, hoping to raise 1 million Kenyan Shillings- about £8,000- to enable the congregation to complete the building of their new church, which so far has taken eight years. Since our visit in 2009 they have put in half of the windows at a cost of 200,000 Kenyan Shillings. 5 million Kenyan Shillings later, the building is half finished.

We wish them well with this ambitious undertaking, and remember all our friends in Kenya in our thoughts and prayers.                                                                        D J



In the summer of 2008, three members of Mathia congregation of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), Reverend Benjamin, and two elders, John and James, visited Maxwelltown West congregation. So began our inter-church friendship.

In summer 2009 a reciprocal visit to Mathia was made by Reverend Gordon, Wilson Ogilvie, Rosemary and Ian Slack, and Heather and David Johnson, to continue this friendship which we hope will develop into a formal twinning between the two congregations.

Our visit to Kenya was an unforgettable experience and gave us the opportunity to make many new friends and share some aspects of the way of life in rural Kenya.

We were involved in exuberant worship, including a baptismal service, communion and a wedding. Also we visited three schools, a technical college, the PCEA University, a PCEA hospital and many of the thriving and growing churches in Kiangai Parish of which Mathia is a part. We experienced the noise of the local tea factory, but also the warmth of the hospitality of the factory workers, many of whom are Mathia Church members.