By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
SILVER SPRING, Md.—Paul Mulani, senior pastor of Disciples Fellowship International Church in Silver Spring, Md., has been named a language church coordinator for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D).
A native of Kenya, Mulani will be responsible for mentoring African, African American and Haitian churches throughout the multi-state convention.
While in high school, Mulani, on his way to work in Nairobi, Kenya, noticed a torn piece of paper on the muddy streets. On it, were only the words: “For more information, send your address to” followed by the address.
For fun, “I took the torn piece of paper and wrote on my address,” Mulani said. He put the paper into an envelope and mailed it out.
Later, he received a large parcel from the United States.
“It was a box of Christian literature from an organization in the USA,” Mulani said, noting that the information explained all about Christian salvation and discipleship.
Sitting alone, in the field, he began reading the material. He found himself kneeling.
“I realized I was a sinner in need of forgiveness and I asked the Lord Jesus to forgive my sins and to come into my heart,” he shared.
He started attending church with his mother, a devout Christian. He grew in his faith until about three years later when he felt the Lord calling him into the ministry.
Instead of heeding the Lord’s call, he fell away from his newfound faith, choosing instead to hang out with the wrong crowd, drink, do drugs and otherwise rebel during his college years.
“I didn’t want to go into the ministry,” he related, explaining that the pastors he knew about were poor, and he didn’t want to be poor like them.
But God wasn’t letting him go that easily. Years later, Mulani was approached by a Nairobi street preacher, who spoke directly into his life.
“The reason your life is the way it is now is because you are running away from God,” the man told him. “Unless you turn around, your life will become worse.”
Mulani found himself looking hard at his life. He had to agree. “It was a moral mess,” he said. “I knew God was calling me, but I was fighting it.”
Realizing he had to make a choice, he went to a pastor and asked for prayer. Soon, he was preaching on the streets of Nairobi himself.
He eventually heard God’s call to receive more training and completed a four-year degree at a Bible college in Kenya. He intended to become a missionary to the Sudan or to Somalia.
But in 1992, Mulani heard God’s call for more training, and he moved to the United States to complete a degree at Washington Bible College in Lanham, Md., followed by seminary studies at Capital Bible Seminary on the same campus.
While there, God started showing him how he could be a missionary in the United States, reaching out to the thousands of African immigrants who now lived far away from their homeland.
“At the time, there were more than 20,000 Kenyans who were registered with the Kenyan embassy,” he noted, estimating that the number is quickly increasing.
Ultimately, Mulani launched Disciples Fellowship International Church in August 2003 at Forest Oaks Middle School in Gaithersburg, Md.
However, prior to the launching, Pastor Mulani had been having a small Bible study group of about 15 people in his home in Silver Spring for about a year and half. Each Friday evening, after the Bible study, the group would have an extensive time of prayer, in Swahili, called “Kesha” (translated as “night watch” or “vigil”).
“This not only made the group grow, but also became powerful and within a year or so, the few people attending, some of them pretty new believers, grew exponentially,” Mulani noted.
Although initially Mulani wasn’t thinking about planting a church in Silver Spring, as he continued praying and reaching out in the area, the Lord started impressing on his heart the need to plant a church to minister to this wide area of Montgomery County.
The Lord confirmed that direction when one entire family was saved on the second Sunday of their meeting, Mulani shared.
The church began meeting at Colesville Church in Silver Spring with several small groups gathering throughout Silver Spring, Gaithersburg, Germantown and other locations.
“After that, within the first one year, more than 20 people had been saved or rededicated to the Lord in this region of Montgomery County in Maryland. Since then, the Lord’s hand has been evident in every way in the life of the church,” he said.
After the first year, the new church affiliated with the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware and with the Montgomery Association.
Presently, with now over 180 worshippers and growing, DFI has two services. The main service is in English, but the second service is in Swahili.
“Though many Africans know English, many grew up learning Swahili,” the pastor said, noting that since incorporating the Swahili service, there has been incredible growth.
He said that people from Congo, Malawi, Tanzania, and other nations are attending the Swahili service.
Also, on April 26, 2009, DFI has also launched DFI Baltimore. Led by Steve and Catherine Magua, this church meets weekly at The Grace Place in Dundalk, Md.
Mulani and his wife Anne have four children: Joy, 12; Joshua, 6; Jael, 3; and Jubilee, 7 months old.
To learn more about DFI, visit online at www.dfichurch.com. Otherwise, contact Mulani at firstname.lastname@example.org.