A pebble in the pond

April 16, 2019

Toss a pebble in a pond and the ripples go out and out, eventually reaching unexpected places. So it has been for Pocatello’s First Presbyterian Church.

Fifteen years ago the church received an anonymous gift of $5,000 for its outreach program. With a family from Kenya in its membership at the time while the parents pursued doctoral degrees at Idaho State, it was decided Kenya would be the logical place to which to direct the money. Little could members imagine to what that initial effort would lead.

Working through the denomination’s Presbyterian Outreach Foundation, they funded a little “mabati” church, a simple corrugated metal building near the town of Nyeri. Potential members of the church provided the land and labor, First Presbyterian’s funds went for materials, pews, and training for a lay minister. But things did not stop there.

The church was named the Kirat’himo Church, an appropriate name for Kirat’himo means “Blessing” or “Gift of God” in the local Kikuyu language. It grew by leaps and bounds. Members soon added a kitchen from which they fed residents of a nearby slum, a simple Sunday School classroom building, and a parsonage. Ere long, they were having four services each Sunday, two in English and two in Kikuyu.

Membership kept growing, and the Kirat’himo Church began to feel the need for a larger place of worship. Through their own efforts and further support from the Presbyterian Outreach Foundation, construction began on a magnificent new building capable of seating 500, again with the land and labor supplied by members.

It was a slow process, for the construction needs stretched the congregation’s capacity to its limits. But on March 24, after nearly five years of work the completed structure was dedicated.

Appropriately, a considerable delegation was present from the extended Kenyan family that had first turned First Presbyterian toward work in Kenya. And they delivered gifts to the church from their Pocatello brethren. The tiny ripples set in motion by that first gift, continue to spread to more and more people. Only time will tell how far they will eventually reach.

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