Monday, 7 September 2009


There are two things mankind abhors — palling around with the devil and corruption. Yet, devil worshipping and being branded among the 10 most corrupt people in Kenya were the accusations levelled against Denis White, the former prelate at Nairobi Pentecostal Church (NPC), Valley Road.
"I was hurt deeply because people didn’t have the facts and they didn’t bother to seek my explanation. However, I gave it to God and chose to walk away from it," he says. "This was my lowest moment. It was a trying moment, too, for the family and the church, but through the grace of God we triumphed."
Pastor Denis White and wife, Esther.
This was in the 1990s, when White was at the apex of his ministry. Then, anything glitzy easily attracted a stabbing finger of association with devil.
NPC attracted the cream of the middle-class and ruling elite, who would appear for Sunday service with top of the range cars.
But that is in the past. White shrugged off the slander and gallantly soldiered on. Today, he is a contented man. The church he ministered for 14 years has blossomed to even greater heights — eight branches, interests in media, education, health and even hospitality.
"I’m impressed with NPC. I’m encouraged. I made some decisions that were implemented and it is good to see that the church is progressing," he told The Standard on Saturday at Valley Road church.
At NPC, White and his wife, Ester, are celebrities of sorts.
A week ago, they jetted into the country for NPC’s 50th anniversary.
During the golden jubilee celebrations at the church on Tuesday, he stole the show from Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, who was the chief guest. People were elated to see their icon.
"He is our hero. He is our hope," said Mary Matheka, a member of NPC.

Local leadership
The attention and affection is understandable. White was the face of NPC. He gave the church a character such that former President Moi found its service irresistible. He steered the church from the backwaters of Christian ministry and placed it at par with the mainstream churches.
Importantly, he delivered the elixir – bestowed the church to a local leadership.
According to White, the decision to let an indigenous person run the church was the best he has ever made. His idea of establishing branches has also paid off. This is why NPC has managed to come this far, he argues.
"My high moments were passing the torch to Pastor (Bonifes) Adoyo and the dedication of the NPC South Karen," he says.
"When I came to Kenya as a pastor, I came feeling strongly that I should be the last expatriate on the pulpit. I felt it was high time Kenyans took over the stewardship of NPC. When the time came, I knew I had served the purpose," he says.

But many will remember White for pioneering radio evangelism and was easily the father of televangelism.
"I got into televangelism by default," he says. "Then the former President used to frequent my services and after that the same would be beamed on national television. That’s how it started," he explains.
"This exposure was good and bad. Good because I could reach the nation with the word; bad because society could think I was endorsing Moi," he explains.
"But I’m a strong believer of radio. It can reach the masses especially those who need the Good News most. The problem with TV is that it is not real, almost delusional. TV is instant. Life is not instant. On TV you condense time, that is not how life is," he observes.
According to White, there was an understanding that Moi attended the church purely for spiritual reasons and not because he would accrue political mileage from the association with the church.
"I’m not a politician, and my work was not to endorse politicians," White says.
"Moi told me ‘Denis, I’ve come for service, nothing else,’" he recalls.
He says being the face of NPC came accidentally.
"I even didn’t know that people strongly saw a manifestation of NPC through me. It is just the other day that people told me…I guess all this is because of the great love I have for the people and NPC. Worshipers knew that we are equal and that I didn’t come here to preside over them."
But white is also a disturbed man. While the church in Kenya is reporting numerical growth, he feels it lacks a corresponding spiritual growth.
"The growth seems to embrace numbers, not quality. If you got quantity without quality you are in trouble. This is why we are bedevilled by problems. Some of the issues could be solved if we were true Christians," he says.
The Kenyan church, he insists, needs to be holistic to address the diverse needs of the nation. He underscores the primacy of religion in societal development and calls upon the clergy to play a critical role in ensuring that "ours is a society on the straight and narrow."
After handing over to Bishop Adoyo, White travelled to Malawi briefly but he was quickly recalled to Canada because "the church there was in a crisis and our input was required."
Today, he ministers at Toronto Islington Evangelical Centre.