Every morning at 7am, more than 100 drivers and conductors at the Nanyuki main bus stage kneel down for 10 minutes of preaching and prayers.
And Tuesday was no different. A few minutes to 7am, Bishop Simon Ndegwa of Full Faith Gospel Church walked into the bus stage to pray for matatu crew before they embarked on their daily job of ferrying passengers.
Armed with a battery powered sound horn, a Bible and wearing a shirt with a clerical collar, Bishop Ndegwa takes control of the bus stage with songs of praise and worship.
In seconds, hundreds of matatu workers and hawkers joined him at the middle of the terminus where nine Saccos with 600 vehicles operate.
Dressed in a black suit and purple shirt, the preacher’s arrival in the terminus which has over 2,000 workers including conductors and hawkers, sends a message that it is time to seek spiritual intervention.
They all kneel down and hold their hands as Bishop Ndegwa leads them in prayer.
“Goodness and mercy will follow you in your day’s endeavours,” he says in the prayers conducted in both English and Kikuyu, while placing his hands on bowed heads of his ‘congregation.’
In 10 minutes, the ‘church service’ is over and the drivers rush to their matatus as the conductors call for passengers while hawkers pick their wares in cartons and begin their trade.
The 64-year-old preacher is known by many in the cosmopolitan town for preaching at the bus stage and giving 20 disabled people lunch daily.
“I started the prayers in the 1990s and they have been embraced by many,” Bishop Ndegwa says.
He notes that before starting the morning prayers, there were constant fights and animosity between crew at the bus station.
“It is them who asked for prayers not me and I do not commercialize. Everybody participates and I don’t discriminate against those joining us. Even those who are not Christians are welcome. I am not choosy,” Bishop Ndegwa states during an interview with the Nation which was interrupted by some conductors who demanded that they pray for national leadership.
Maina Gitau, a hawker, believes his business is successful because of the prayers. He has managed to buy a piece of land in the outskirts of the town from the proceeds.
A conductor, John Mwangi, says though he is not ‘saved’ he believes in the prayers.
“I drink beer, but every morning I wake up early to participate in the prayers. My life is good. I do not clash with anybody. The prayers and advice from the Bishop have helped me,” says Mwangi still smelling of alcohol.
A matatu driver, Charles Wachira, says Bishop Ndegwa is unique because he does not demand offering as is common with many preachers.
Wachira says the number of road accidents involving vehicles operating in the terminus reduced after they committed to the daily prayers.
The vehicles operate between Nairobi, Nyahururu, Isiolo, Nyeri, Karatina, Meru, Timau, Rumuruti, Nakuru, Doldol, Archerspost, Marsabit and Moyale towns.
When late, they make frantic phone calls asking about his whereabouts. Bishop Ndegwa said he also prays for courts, banks and farm workers.