The Bus Stop Church on route 106
It’s 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning and the streets of Banana, a small town on the outskirts of Nairobi, are already busy with people heading for work and church. The local vicar, Susan Ndungu, arrives at the bus stop, and immediately a crowd begins to gather.
70-80 young men, many in jeans, tee-shirts and baseball caps, gather at the bus stand. A simple service begins: prayers, testimonies, perhaps a song, and a short sermon. Susan turns to me to announce that I am the preacher (first I knew of it!). “More than ten minutes and you lose the lot” she whispers, by way of moral support. Within half an hour the service is over and the crowd disperses.
This is church with a difference: an unselfconscious expression of what it means to be the body of Christ in a very untraditional way. The congregation is made up of matatu drivers and touts. The purveyors of Nairobi’s notorious and anarchic transport system. These are the people you don’t find in church. But this is their church, out in the road amidst the diesel fumes and the passing traffic. Here is a church stripped to the bare essentials. Yet, as baseball caps were removed for the final blessing and the congregation walked away to their vehicles, I sensed that here is a church that is finally having the courage to reach out to meet people where they are, in their own space. A church that is willing to lose the trappings that so often form our security, in order to be a sign of the Kingdom on route 106.
Sadly, Susan was killed in a car crash shorlty after this article was written. Colin Smith (Mission Partner in Nairobi) acknowledges Susan’s work in planting the bus stop church and hopes for the future of the congregation: “It may not be too difficult to find someone to keep the church going but it’s rare to find people like Susan with the vision to create new initiatives like this.”
Colin and Anita Smith with Sheila and Sandie
CMS Mission Partners serving in Nairobi Diocese, Kenya
c/o CMS PO Box 40360 00100 Nairobi KENYA