The beginning of The Ridgeways Baptist Church rose out of a need and a vision of a missionary from the United States of America, one Bill Curp who was then living in the Ridgeways community. This Baptist Missionary drove his family out of the community Sunday after Sunday to go to church. At that time, there was no church in Ridgeways, Garden Estates, Runda and Muthaiga and most people drove to town to attend church as research done by a Leonard Otita in 1988 revealed. Bill Curp saw an opportunity for a church to be planted in Ridgeways and he visited the Kenya Baptist Theological College in Brackenhurst, Tigoni and expressed this need to Dr. Sam Turner, another Baptist missionary who was serving as the Academic Dean and lecturer at the College. Dr. Sam Turner, desiring to give the church to be planted a national outlook, invited Elijah Wanje, the then Registrar and lecturer at the same College to join him in starting the church. Both Dr. Turner and Elijah Wanje were members of the Tigoni Baptist Church at Brackenhurst.
Fliers were prepared and distributed to the people of the community inviting them to the first service of the Church on March 6th, 1988. A small room was rented at the then complex that is currently housing the Ridgeways Boys High School. Make shift benches were made and the missionaries brought hymn books from their homes including the musical instruments to be used in the service. The announcement of the birthing of this Church went to other congregations such as Parklands Baptist Church, Tigoni Baptist Church and people in the community. During this first service on March 6th, 1988, several friends from Parklands Baptist Church and Tigoni Baptist Churches came and in total, there were not more than 25 people. Two of the 25 people present were from the Ridgeways community. Elijah Wanje led in the singing/ praise and worship and Dr. Sam Turner preached the first message titled, “The ABC of Salvation” based on Romans Chapter 5.
Within three months, a good number of people from the community were attending the worship service. Many of them were Kiswahili speakers. This led to the Church to start a Kiswahili service as the first service and the English service as the second service. By the end of the first year, the congregation was averaging 60-80 worshipers on a Sunday. In 1989, the English and Swahili services were combined into one service that was translated into the two languages. During these early days, the leadership of the Church was made up of Dr. Sam Turner, Elijah Wanje and Bill Curp. Another missionary, Craig Bird joined the team and offered much needed help as the first Chairman of the Church.
On July 17th, 1989, the congregation formalized itself into Ridgeways Baptist Church with some 30 people being the initial group members. On the same day, July 17th 1989, Elijah Wanje was asked to be the Lead Pastor of the Church since Dr. Sam Turner was going back to the United States on one year’s leave. Pastor Wanje with the support of other younger people in the Church took the challenge of leadership.
RIDGEWAYS BAPTIST CHURCH SANCTUARY STRUCTURES
From 1988 to 1992, the congregants met in rented rooms at the facility of the current Ridgeways Boys Academy. The rooms were small but the little income of the fellowship from the church was not able to pay for more rooms so some of the church programs i.e bible studies were held outside or in the class rooms of the college in place then. In 1992, the rents went up and the church would have found it difficult to service its rent. By the hand of God, an Asian couple who were running the college were deeply moved because of their conviction that the church was doing good work for God they invited the church to their new facility, the current dormitories of the High school. Their two class rooms were made available for our worship services on Sunday and our prayer service on Thursday. We were given the freedom to use the dining hall and another corridor for Bible study and the grounds were open for our use.
In 1990, the church had started collecting funds at end month towards the purchase of land. Searches were done initially from any public land within the community but was not found. Prices for the land in the area were beyond what the church could afford but once again, God intervened and led the church to the family of Mr. Karuri who agreed to sell half an acre to the church for Kshs. 600,000 and allowed the church to pay slowly.
In 1994, transactions were formalized and the first fabricated wooden structure was built and dedicated on August 24th 1994. The new sanctuary strengthened the faith of the believers and deepened their sense of belonging to the church and community. A small nursery wooden room was built then; a make shift children church was constructed which did not do so well with the people of the community for it was ‘mabati’ Iron sheets roof and the sides were covered of sacks. In 1999 with the initiative of several members and beautiful children church was built.
In 2004 the size of the congregation necessitated the building of another sanctuary. This time the church leadership was clear that the sanctuary needed to be a brick building and large enough to provide room for growth. All the thinking of the leadership was also clear that to build the kind of sanctuary we had in mind would take us a few years. Since the original sanctuary was full to capacity and knowing it would take several years to finish the new sanctuary, a decision was made to extend the wooden sanctuary so as to sit everyone while we build the new sanctuary. An extension to the original sanctuary was done and on Oct 31st 2004, the congregation worshipped in their extended sanctuary with a change in where the altar was facing.
A strong team of the development committee under the leadership of the late Muito Kabuya was mandated to spearhead the construction of the new sanctuary. Architects were welcomed to submit their proposals and a decision was made. Another strong team for the fundraising led initially by Jane Adam and another team led by Erick Kimani were mandated to challenge and inspire the congregation to give towards the project.
On March 12th 2006 the church held a ground breaking ceremony and a financial giving /pledge towards the project. On that Sunday the congregation pledged 22 million shillings and the work began. It took 3 years to build the current sanctuary and we spent over 62 million shillings and we rejoice that God has enabled us to do so without borrowing from any bank or sending our pastors overseas to raise funds. Several partners from overseas have given us support for which we are grateful but it is the Ridgeways Baptist Church family that has given most of the funding. To God be all Glory for the great things He has done.