Celebrating the Life of The Very Rev. Bernard Muindi, Great Partner and Friend of The Outreach Foundation
Life History of The Very Rev. Bernard Muindi Mukindia
November 26, 1934 - June 12, 2017
Provided by Anne Muindi-Shemenski
Bernard Muindi was born on 26th November 1934, in a small village called Kathareni, Kiriani, Chogoria, Meru District. His parents were Mukindia Njara and Grace Kanyua Mukindia. He was the third born in the family of eight children, namely: John M’Rewa, the late Charity Kathure Erastus, Alice Murugi Mukangau, Eliphaz Njue, Mercy Maitha Mutegi, Fredrick Ngige and Catherine Nchuguni Njiru. His parents were not Christians but late in life they became followers of Christ.
HIS EARLY LIFE
He grew up like any other typical African boy and started looking after his parent’s livestock at an early age. His father separated him from the other children and sent him to live away from home as a shepherd boy. He learned to care for himself and the livestock and earned the confidence and trust of his father. Obedience was one of the early aspects of his life.
One of the reasons Muindi’s father sent him away was that he was concerned about the influence that his elder brother and sister – who were studying at a Christian school – and the children of Christian neighbors in the village might have on him. However, Muindi returned home from time to time from the pastures and began hearing what his sister was learning in school and admiring the gospel messages in the songs she was learning. He decided to hide away from where he was living with his father and attend school so that he could learn the new things the other children in the village were learning. This was against his father’s will, and Muindi wondered what his future would be if he was not in accord with his father and could not pay for his school fees. He started his schooling at Gatungano Church of Scotland Outstation Mission School within walking distance from home. He attended school in the morning and went home to look after goats in the afternoon. Muindi’s first teacher was from the same village and knew about his father’s attitude toward education and at times rebuked him when he did not give the right answers in class. One day he was expelled from school due to a lack of school fees and for three weeks he worked for a well-to-do person in the village to earn money for school fees and uniforms. His teacher went to look for him during this absence because he was one of the best students in his class. Muindi later encouraged his younger sister to join him at this school so that she could benefit as well. When he completed the last class at Gatungano, he went to a more advanced school called Kajiunduthi. He did not stay there long and was admitted to Chogoria Boarding School, which was known at the time as “Mambere” and was geared for bright pupils from many primary schools under the Church of Scotland Mission. Muindi completed KAPE (Kenya African Primary Examination) and passed to join Alliance High School, Kikuyu.
Muindi struggled to obtain the necessary school fees because his father was unable to pay and did not view education as a priority. To pay for his schooling, he weaved baskets, made handles for hoes, and carried sugarcane to the market for sale. While at Chogoria Boarding School, he learned carpentry and made furniture that was bought and distributed to the primary schools that were under the Mission. With the passage of time, his father’s attitude toward education changed, and he sold a piece of land to help pay for Muindi’s school fees at Alliance High School. School bursaries were only given to the very well-known and favoured families, and he did not fall in that category. During his holidays he went to work at the Mission. From Alliance High School, he joined Kagumo Government Teacher’s Training and trained as a teacher. After completing this training, he was posted to Kajiunduthi Intermediate School and taught for two years (1956-57).
He made a decision to follow Christ as his personal savior on April 21st, 1949, while at Chogoria Boarding School during a convention meeting. He confessed Jesus as his personal Saviour. He had joined the church through the Hearer’s, Catechumenate baptism and confirmation classes in the years 1945-1947. Till the time of his death he has been a witness that Jesus came to save the sinners and in the words of St. Paul, “…that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15).
CALL TO HOLY MINISTRY
The call to holy ministry came when he was in high school, where he was a member of the Christian Union as well as in the Revival Fellowship. He wished to join training for the Holy Ministry immediately after school, but one of his teachers advised him to take on a profession that would expose him to community service, such as teaching. After two years’ teaching, he decided to begin training for the Ministry in January, 1958, when he joined St. Paul’s Theological College, Limuru, which he completed in 1961.
He was married to Eunice Kageni Justo on December 18, 1957 at Chogoria. She was a nurse and accompanied him during his training at St. Paul’s Theological College. The Lord has blessed them with four children: Tennyson Muriithi, the late David Muraguri, Anne Nyawira and Timothy Murimi.
SERVICE IN THE CHURCH AS A PASTOR
He was licensed at Chogoria on February 18, 1962, and by that time was posted to Nyeri Parish to replace Rev. Ian Dougall, who had been appointed to head the Lay Training Centre at Kikuyu. He became the first Church Minister from Meru to the Kikuyu land.
He was awarded a scholarship for further theological studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey (USA) and left Nyeri in July of 1962 to return to Meru and prepare to leave for the United States in August. He was ordained at Tumutumu Church on July 15, 1962, and the preacher was a visiting professor from St. Paul’s College, Rev. Dr. Hunter. He was at Princeton from August 1962 – August 1963. When he returned, he resumed his work in Nyeri Parish. He served in Nyeri Presbytery until 1969, when he was appointed the Deputy General Secretary by the G.A.C. at Chogoria. He served the church in this capacity and in 1973 he left to pursue further studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California (USA) until August 1975. When he returned, he was posted to Kihumbuini Parish in the Greater Murang’a Presbytery until April 1976, when he resumed his position as Deputy General Secretary.
He served the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (P.C.E.A.) as Deputy General Secretary until 1979 when he became the Secretary General. He served in that capacity until 1985 and was again posted to Nyeri Presbytery, where he took charge of Rware Parish. He was there until 1991, when he was elected to be the Moderator of the General Assembly. When he was the Secretary General, he was instrumental in the development of several church projects, such as the construction of the Turbo Road maisonettes in Kilimani and the Nairobi South C offices, and oversaw the implementation of these plans when he and others took the leadership in 1991. The centennial celebrations of the church took place during his first year of leadership of the P.C.E.A. His term in office as Moderator concluded in April 1997 and coincided with his retirement age. In July 27, 1997, the Nyeri Presbytery asked him to take charge of the newly inaugurated Parish of Riamukurwe, and he served as a pastor there until December 2005, when he retired officially. In 1999, he founded the Tumaini Destitute Children’s Home at Riamukurwe and subsequently amalgamated it with the Huruma Children’s Home as one Children’s Ministry. At the request of the Nyeri Presbytery, he continued to assist this ministry voluntarily after his retirement. At the same time he founded Kamunyiri Clinic (Sugarbaker Clinic) to serve the children and community.
CONSTRUCTION OF DESTITUTE CHILDREN’S HOME
The Children’s home was built by faith. The need for such a “Home” at the time was pressing. Muindi believed that with God all things are possible and worked with his friends mainly from overseas to raise funds to help the needy children – who were mainly orphans and children from very poor homes. Some wonder why he did not develop his own land – it was a conscious decision that demonstrated the same selfless dedication to the service of Christ and others that he had shown his entire life. In that manner, he showed that he was using the generously donated funds to assist others and not to develop his own property.
In his own words he said: “I am grateful to God who gave me friends who facilitated the completion of this project for the benefit of the needy children and not for personal gains. I had to sacrifice myself in order to benefit these vulnerable children. I could have used part of the money for my family’s needs but it was entrusted to me for the welfare of the children God has entrusted to the Church or the Parish. In my life I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.” Through the completion of this project, The Very Reverend Muindi helped to ensure that hundreds of children received a safe and loving home and the education that he so deeply craved as a youth and worked so hard to obtain. Throughout his journey from the pastures of Meru to the church pulpit in Nyeri to leadership of the P.C.E.A. and the founding of the Tumaini and Huruma Children's Homes, he never forgot God’s call to serve the needy. His passion for caring for others, which his loving wife Eunice shared and worked side-by-side with him to achieve, and his commitment to Christ are an inspiration to us all and a legacy that we should all seek to emulate.
In his own words, the Very Reverend Muindi gave thanks:
- To the Almighty God, who had given me the years I have lived and for choosing me to serve him in His Church though being an unworthy servant.
- To my beloved wife, Eunice, who has supported me wholly since our marriage (note: this was their 60th year of marriage) and has been with me in times of ease, in times of hardship, times of illness, times of good health and times of prosperity or times of poverty until now God has separated us by death.
- To our children for their supportive spirit and their determination and hard work, which has enabled them to get good education despite our meager resources. “I have been young and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread,” says the Word of the Lord. (Psalm 37:25)
- To our extended family, friends and neighbours, who have been supportive to us during hard times and have been a comfort to us during my long illness.
- To the doctors and staff at various hospitals where I have been attended till my last day on earth.
FINALLY, beloved, “Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable; if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise; think about these things”. (Philippians 4:8)
Death the last enemy has been defeated!
GUIDE ME O THOU GREAT JEHOVAH, PILGRIM THROUGH THIS BARREN LAND, I AM WEAK, BUT THOU ART MIGHTY: HOLD ME WITH THY POWERFUL HAND, STRONG DELIVERER BE THOU STILL MY STRENGTH AND SHIELD AND LASTLY LAND ME ON CANAAN’S SIDE.
GLORY, GLORY ALLELUJAH!
We're saddened to announce the recent death of the Rt. Rev. Bernard Muindi, former moderator of the Presbyterian Church in East Africa, former pastor of the Riamukurwe Parish at Nyeri, and visionary advocate for the needs of vulnerable children at Nyeri and beyond. His daughter, Anne, shared with us that the scriptures he selected for his funeral service are Joshua 1:1-9 and 2 Timothy 4:1-8. He has indeed fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. Please hold his widow, Eunice, in your prayers, along with all his family and the parish and denomination that he served. The following letter was sent to the Presbyterian Church of East Africa from Executive Director Rob Weingartner:
Rev. Peter Kaniah Kariuki, PCEA Secretary General
Rt. Rev. Julius G. Mwamba, Moderator of the 21st General Assembly
Rev. Alfred Mugendi Kanga, Deputy Secretary General
Dear brothers in Christ,
Greetings in the name of our blessed Lord Jesus. We received the sad but not unexpected news that The Very Rev. Bernard Muindi went to be with the Lord. Please receive our heart-felt condolences and know that we hold in our prayers The Very Rev. Muindi’s family, especially his wife, Eunice, the Riamukurwe Parish, the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, and all who were touched by the love and faith of this dear saint. We give thanks and praise to God for the goodness and truth that passed from Rev. Muindi’s life into the lives of others, including our own.
Rev. Muindi has been an important partner in mission to The Outreach Foundation for many years, and we will continue to be inspired by his indefatigable passion for serving destitute and vulnerable children, “the least of these” in the words of our Lord.
Though not a man of great physical stature, Rev. Muindi’s spiritual stature was evidenced clearly in his deep faith in Jesus Christ and his desire to obey him, by his deep love for the church and his commitment to its health in ministry and mission, and through the countless lives, including so many children, that he shaped in good and godly ways.
Thanks be to God for this remarkable servant! He has come to know what Paul described in his second letter to Timothy: “As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
May the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Robert J. Weingartner
The Outreach Foundation
A memorial fund to honor The Very Rev. Bernard Muindi has been made available through The Outreach Foundation to benefit the Tumaini Vocational Training Center construction in Nyeri, Kenya. Designated gifts can be mailed to The Outreach Foundation, 381 Riverside Drive, Franklin, TN 37064, or can be submitted online by going to give.theoutreachfoundation.org and clicking "other." Please designate your gift as "Rev. Muindi Memorial."