Pastor of a Kenyan Community Church in Baltimore Accused of Embezzlement and Misconduct
Pastor John Karanja, the pastor of ICC Church (International Christian Community Church) in Baltimore, Maryland, is being accused of embezzling $2,676.00 from VICODS USA, a non-profit organization he co-registered in Baltimore with Rt. Rev. Bishop Jeremiah Kibobi Apollo, the Presiding Bishop of Visions of Glory Church in Kenya. The organization was registered for the purpose of helping the needy in Kenya.
Pastor Karanja is accused of using the donated funds for his personal use instead of forwarding to intended recipients in Kenya. According to some former members of his congregation, Pastor Karanja used the Bank of America card issued to VICODS USA in Sam’s Club, Wall Mart, and in Gas stations. He also allegedly transferred funds to his own account and made bank counter withdrawals. On December 16, 2011 an organization in the US deposited $1876 in the bank account. On December 19, 2011, the pastor is said to have withdrawn the funds from the account, and up to this day the funds have not been remitted to the people it was intended for.
“This is a major breach of public trust by someone who presents himself as a pastor. It is a big betrayal of public trust for a pastor to steal from the needy and helpless,” Mr Karanja Mwaura, a member of his congregation tells Mwakilishi.com. When confronted, Pastor Karanja’s reason for stealing the money was that it was likely to be stolen anyway by the VICODS representative in Kenya. In a letter written by Rt. Rev. Bishop Apollo and sent to Mwakilishi.com, Rt. Rev. Bishop Apollo vehemently denies that the funds were misappropriated by VICODS representatives in Kenya and says Pastor Karanja embezzled the funds for his own personal use. “This is the last thing our Kenyan community needs right now. In order to build a strong community, we need to root out characters like these,” adds Mr Mwaura. A police report has been filed with Baltimore County Police Department (Incident # 12-215-1443) and the matter is under investigation.
In another matter pertaining to the same pastor, it is alleged that two years ago he was accused of sexual harassment by a Deaconess working under him in ICC Church. The Deaconess accused Pastor Karanja of inappropriate touching, lewd talk and phone calls. A board meeting convened to address the issue ended prematurely because of the pastor’s attitude and angry outbursts. At one point, while the deaconess was speaking, Pastor Karanja is said to have shouted at the Deaconess “okoruo wi muruu uga uguo ringi” (if you are circumcised repeat what you said). "He was saying this to a woman the age of his daughter. How can a pastor make such a statement in this day and time?", wonders Mr Mwaura.
Mr Mwaura also accuses the pastor of borrowing $5,000 from him during the bereavement period of Mwaura’s late wife. After several attempts to get paid back by the pastor, Mr Mwaura sent some community leaders to intervene on the matter, but the pastor ignored them insisting the money was given a gift to him by Mr Mwaura. " Who borrows money from a grieving family and refuses to pay it back? Not to mention that my wife was a deaconess of his congregation. This man has no conscience. I will be filling a civil suit soon," wonders Mr Mwaura, who says he will be filling a civil suit soon against Pastor Karanja to het his money back.
Here is the message contained in Rt. Rev. Bishop Jeremiah Kibobi Apollo's letter. View the original copy of the letter here:
"I Greet in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am fine and doing well with my family and still committed to the service of my Lord, with full assurance that I shall inherit the kingdom which is my uttermost desire and aim.
I want to believe that you are also fine with your family and that you remain focused to the goal. Let me assure you that from the time I met you in July 2008, you won my good will and that will remain to be so.
I am writing this letter to you, which is very solemn and I appeal to you to give it very concrete consideration.
Now to my main point: I am so sorry to inform you that I am very disappointed with Pastor Karanja. He is one man that I have been having great respect for, but since my last trip there, things have unfolded that I feel I should share with you and also know what I have been going through. With all due respect to the pastor and with him having been of great assistance to me as in being my ladder to come to America and also for the respect I have for him for how he stood with me during my wedding back in 1989, and other good qualities that he has, yet he has acted in a way of trying to ruin my reputation to people who have trusted me all along.
If I take you back a bit, when I first landed in America, he picked me at the airport in the company of Mama Makumi, and that lady drove us up to his home. That year, there were many women in the ICC Church including Mama Eugene and others, whom as you remember, as I was leaving Baltimore that time, you all escorted me to the airport and I felt very loved and accepted, to an extent that we had to have a prayer fellowship at the airport.
On returning the following year, I found that most of the ladies who were very supportive of the ICC had left and I was fed with a lot of bad information about them, telling me that they were all prostitutes and he did not want anything to do with them. I tried to seek for reconciliation which is the greatest ministry we have been accorded as ministers of the gospel, but the pastor was always very angry with me when I called Mama Eugene even to greet her.
When I came back the third time, I found that still others had left the Church and the reasons were the same. Ok. That time I had to spend most of my mission in Massachusetts though I was going and coming back to my base in his house. I will for ever remember the generosity you showed me and especially the last day I was in Church when you asked people with a lot of love to give for the sake of transporting the cartons of clothes to Kenya which they did very dedicatedly.
On arriving back in Kenya, I thought to pay back the generosity of the Pastor with a good deed. I opted to offer to paint his house and I told him so, and he gave me the go-ahead. I went on with the work and used Ksh 48,000/- (Forty eight thousand Kenya shillings) (Imagine that amount here in Kenya). But my painter was very harassed and mistreated by the pastor’s son who stays in his home. Later the pastor called me and told me that I had spoilt his house and that he does not want to hear that my painter is painting his house. He told me that he was going to send money to his son so that his house could be painted to the taste of his son’s liking. I apologized to him for having “spoilt” his house. I told him the amount of money I had used in the work and he told me to keep away from his house repair. That I faithfully did. I withdrew my painter, and from very reliable sources, the house was never painted again even as I write this.
In July 2011, I started receiving friends that I had met there at Baltimore and others from Massachusetts. To be precise, Jemesta visited us at the Church and at home and we were very glad to be with her. She then told us that Mama Eugene was coming to stay in Kenya for a month and that she was to stay in a hotel in Nairobi. We asked her to inform Nyawira that she was welcome to stay in our house, which she
kindly accepted. As she stayed with us, we also received guests from Springfield Mass, A Pastor and his wife and daughter who also stayed in our house for a month. This was the same time that Nyawira was staying with us. Nyawira wanted her son Eugene to study in Kenya and we lovingly agreed to stay with the boy who is now like our last born son, and is doing very well in school and in the Church and at home. I was not doing these things in hiding and so, somehow, the children of the pastor who stay within our neighbourhood and who know Mama Eugene very well informed their father that she was staying with us. I believe that is what made the Pastor so negative about me.
Later, I heard that they intended to come to Kenya and I offered to pay the ticket for one of them. But unfortunately, our food supply at the school was later very badly affected and I managed to support the Pastor with only seven hundred dollars ($700). (By then that was Ksh 60,000/-, which we could have bought about ten bags of beans to take us for three months). I had offered to give him my car and fuel it during his stay in Kenya. I did not even know when they came. I only heard about it when they had stayed for about a month, and was informed how badly he was speaking about me and so I opted to stay away.
Now let me hit the nail on the head. I hope you remember that we had opened a bank Of America Account with him and Mugwe for VICODS. There have been a few people who have been donating to that account and later some organizations started depositing money in that account for me to forward to other people here in Kenya. At first, David was very efficient is sending the money to my account in Kenya and I could forward to the owners without problems. But somewhere along the way, things changed.
While the pastor was here in Kenya, a certain organization in America deposited $1,876 (which by then was Ksh 160,000). The money was deposited in the account on December 16th 2011. Believe it or not, I tried to ask for that money to be sent so that I could give to the intended recipients, and as I write this, the money has never been sent. The money was withdrawn on 19th December, to the tune of $1,850.
I wrote several emails to David and the father without response and finally I had to take a bank loan so as to settle the money owners.
Another Church called River City Church in Idaho has been donating some money to other people through the same account. The money has been used to fuel the pastor’s car as I can see in the online Bank statement and buying things at shopping malls. Last month, the same Church deposited $200 on 12th march, and had deposited another 60 dollars on 5th March which was meant for a suffering family that the Church supports and I was supposed to withdraw the money and forward to the beneficiaries here. I have tried to ask the money to be sent, but to no avail. I have checked in the bank statement and I am surprised that the money has been transferred to another account. The Pastor blocked my ATM card and when I tried to withdraw the money from here, the card was retained by the bank ATM machine with reasons that it was the advice of the issuer. Last week, when I was mourning my dear mother, I had to borrow some Ksh.21,000/- from a friend to give the beneficiaries whom the money was intended for.
Luckily enough, we have managed to open another bank account with the same bank of America in Massachusetts, and so no more money will be deposited in the Vicods account in Baltimore because the money never reaches the intended recipients.
So far, the amount of money that has been used to do shopping and fueling the car and other withdrawals from the Vicods account, and the same money I have been forced to pay to the intended recipients is $2,676, not forgetting that I had willingly given them $700 to assist in their ticket.
Now, please my dear, as bad as I may be called, What can we say about someone who has used $2,676 meant for people in hospital, for buying medicines, for assisting refugees from Somali etc etc etc?????? This is the same person standing at the altar of God Almighty every Sunday and lifting hands to “bless” the congregation.
God has been faithful to me and I have been able to pay all that money (amounting to Ksh 227,500) to the intended recipients. I believe that God, in His faithfulness, will continue blessing me in His own mysterious ways.
My reason for writing this is because my heart has bled many times because someone is enjoying life with money intended to support the less fortunate. Yet this same person talks very bad of me and I am the one paying what he has been using illegally.
Otherwise, please give us a visit next time you are in Kenya and we shall appreciate taking even a cup of coffee together.
God bless you and keep you ever strong in His service.
Bishop Jeremiah Kibobi."
Wow!. It seems Pastor Karanja has issues, but why wash your long dirty linen in public? It appears all these pastors are middle men, collecting moniy from well wishers intended for the needy, then forwarding part of it and keeping a percentage, otherwise how do they support themselves? Even Bishop Kibobi, where does he get all the money he was using to paint Pastor Karanja's house to pay for other people's tickets?
Hii mambo inastink!
The good thing here is that this incident occurred in a country (USA) that strictly observes the rule of law. And for this, I see Pastor Karanja going to jail if this matter is pursued to its ultimate end. The problem will become even more serious for Pastor Karanja if the deaconess in question will bring in the sexual harassment piece. And this will make the Pastor to curse the day he was born. Let us wait and see how things will play out.
Kareithi vipi? Lakini, just because many pastors are now falling into these unethical/immoral/nonreligious acts such as HOLY embezzlement, prostitution na kadhalika does not make this saga any lighter! Kenyan at large is heading into a moral bankruptcy, thus, the need to speak out against these vices. The etiology is not just greed nor the devil getting into them, it's deeper that we think. Pastors' lives are harder, whenever we need help or someone has passed away, we call the pastor. Whom does the pastor call when he/she needs help? Their entire souls and being are wrapped up in church, hence, perseverance and false pretense develop when they have issues in an attempt to avoid expected human judgement.
According to majority, it's unconventional for pastors to have marital problems for example. Pastors are also underpaid, kwani huwa mnawapatia chapaa kiasi gani - change right? Lack of adequate resources can be quite depressing & agonizing if they have families to take care of. We forget that pastors are human and are subject to flaws/ imperfection & also change of heart/backslide!
Despite all these factors, resorting to any vice is evil. It degrades our society. Just because it's almost a Kenyan way of life doesn't mean we should condone it. I encourage our pastors to humble themselves before the Lord and seek help whenever they need. It's also our moral duty to support them. Pastor-ship is a calling not a career that one chooses.
Pastor Kibobi is not innocent either, why is he painting the pastor's house and paying for tickets especially when they are supposedly strapped for cash? Also he makes it sound like he owes people money to the extent that a loan had to be taken. The recipients would not know how much donors have given or what to expect coz they are being helped right or i'm i missing something?
All fishy. I think i trust a thief more than a pastor. It's a business.
I know him n right by the first sight of him when I saw him in church told it all. He is soo disrespectful. He is the kind of a man who will ignore u if u meet @Walmart yet on Sunday he gives u a sneering smile. First of all what pastor only calls upon those people who only pay tithe on that Sunday to go to the altar n b prayed for? does that mean that the rest r not followers?
That Pastor is a very ignorant character that's very true but also why is this Kibobi dude all over the pastor's bizna painting his house and all? i wonder if he first painted his house.........
People should stop worshiping these pastors like gods and they should know that they are not immune to sin or error. Some of these pastors are lions with sheep's skin.
I dont these kenyan pastors thieves open the bible and read the incident of Ananiah and his wife Saphira. They have become thieves in the pullpit. Yet when confronted they become furious and start calling people gossipers. it is so sad. No wonder kenyans have opted not to worship in their churches. They bring impunity in the house of God. They will know that America is a country that does not play around with cheaters and bad misconduct especially when it comes to sexual harassment.
I would like to know why the heck do we have to know all this freaking business of these pastor and kibobi coming to the public, secondary this Mwaura guy, what is he after in this matter, if you led money to someone and that person refuse to pay, you take him to court don't tell the public, that's defamation. And if the money stolen was donation that means the intended recipient could not know until given the money, so how can you borrow the money to pay what is not known to the recipient. I think you are also benefiting from the money and that's why you are furious.
As per the woman claiming for sexual harassment, why did she keep quiet until now, shame on you.
Either way both Mwaura and Kibobi should shut up and if they wanna take that pastor to court they do that, otherwise i might think they also have a hidden agenda.
As a former worshiper of ICC I am outraged at this news. I know too many people who have left that church and it has never been discussed why they left. I used to wonder why people left until I finally saw the need to leave. I think there may be many more stories pending.
It is a shame that what was meant to be a community church turned out to be a church full of issues stemming from dictatorship by this pastor. It is rumored that some people were literary kicked out of the church by the pastor. I always knew that this guy was a phoney. Let him face the law like any other citizen. Then maybe the Baltimore Community can reclaim the church to its full potential.
This story is so sad especially to the wife and children of the pastor, in my own opinion I think that as people of God Baba Mwaura did not do the right thing as much as he pretends to be humble to the community and he may claim that he is trying to solve a problem, he has his own downfalls that can be put in public too and he would be ashamed, as a man of God Baba Mwaura should have taken the necessary actions without involving the public. He has been a member of this church and his wife passed a few years ago and I wonder why this issue is coming up now, the deaconnes should have reported the case immediately if she did not have other hidden agendas, the bishop in Kenya - Kibobi is acting like an angel sent from above but I know for sure he has issues too and so as he claimed to be a man of God while he was here he should be fasting and praying and not drafting these stupid letters.
I pray that the pastor's family may find peace at this time because I know how it feels but its just but a passing storm.....
Ooh yea he's so phony n btw as for the sexual harrasement he also threatened em n goy run outaff his church. Baba mwaura tried talk with other men and have him give back wat he shared but finally got a slap on his face by being told he can't play guiyar in church bearing in mind he's one of the founders of the church. Wish u knw how he talks to his own wife n son leave alone out in public. He's living a dictatorship lyf. He looks evil from far sorry to say.
Shame on you all from karanja mwaura, pastor karanja and the kibobi guy. Nobody cares you all have a special interest and maybe people have stopped contributing and money to share is not enough. Before the fallout you all drank from the same cup, so stop the nonsense i cannot believe these are men. What happened we no longer have elders to look up too and consult when there is need. Personally i do not respect any of ypu.
Please fellow kenyans go to churches where you will be given the word of God and give ypur money to people who deserve not phony pastors and community leaders who are out to make money holding the bible andin the name of jesus. SHAME ON YOU!!!! We have better things to do.
ON THIS DAY SHAME HAS BEFALLEN ON ME AS A KENYAN IN BALTIMORE. And these elderly men (Mr. Mwaura, Pastor Karanja and Pastor Kibobi) who are supposed to be the pillars of society quarrel in public like fishmongers in a market.
I knew he is a thief from the word go.
It is indeed a sad day. we have shown the non-believes that we are not believers. Baba mwaura have you forgotten, do not take your case to the heathen to judge? It's also sad when we have been told, do not point fingers at a man of God . Then you bring it to the public, has all else failed? is there no man of God that could solve this?
Baltimore church we are under seige, we have allowed the devil to rein and given him a doorway and you all know when we do this trying to get him out is nearly impossible. The love of money is the root of all evil, i'm sure this is just the icing there is much more, but i hope you will wash it elsewhere not where there are kids, for we do not want to be dirty by association .
Wakenya, ama niseme waumini, washiriki, wanayo kasoro moja: kuwatukuza watumishi wa Mungu kesha baadaye wanaanza kulia na kuumia kimoyomoyo pale tukuko linapopiga mwamba. Unapokwenda kanisani kuutukuza UTU badala ya Maulana, basi yatarajie vituko baadaye. Visa ambavyo waumini wamewatukuza viongozi hawa wa kidini na hapo baadaye wanapigwa na butaa wanafahamu yale wachungaji hao walokuwa wakiyafanya kisirisiri vimetapakaa sio tu hapa Marekani, lakini kokote katika Jamhuri yetu.
Kumbuka Mnaijeria aliye wahadaa wanawake Kenya kuwa atawatafutia wachumba. Mkumbuke askofu aliyemkashifu mmewe aliyezaa watoto wawili naye eti kuwa hamjui, kuwa yeye kaliwa na wadudu miguuni....Kumbuka mchungaji Mnaijeria aliyemcharaza kofi msichana mmoja eti kwamba alidai kuwa yeye ni "Mchawi wa Yesu," kumbuke wengine waliorundikwa gerezani kwa najisi, wizi, kuwapapasa wanawake na hasa vijana vijana.
Ni muhimu hasa sisi Wakenya kujiepusha na vitendo ambavyo vitavunja sheria za nchi hii kwani hazimpendelei yoyote. Wengi wamejikuta matatani kwa kufanya vitendo vya kipusi wakiwa na ile kasumba ya Kikenya kwamba watawahonga askari au mahakama hivyo kuchenga chenga sheria. Sheria hapa hufuatwa neno baada ya lingine, na utawaona askari akikuchekesha na kukuonyesha heshima ila anakuweka baroni. Fuata sheria uyafurahie maisha yako hapa, ikiwezekana.
Pale unapomtukuza mchungaji miaka nenda miaka rudi, bila shaka anakufofusha: huoni husikii, husemi huneni, husikii husemi, hununi huguni. Unakaa pwee hata anapofanya vitendo ambavyo machoni mwa mwenyezi ni dhambi. Hayo ndio ndio mambo yanayotendeka kila jumapili ama waumini wendapo kesha au wanapohudhuria hadhara ya kumtukuza mwenyesi Mungu, mweza yote mujua yote. Shida sio huyo unayemkemea na tuhuma ambazo veve ndiye uliyezipanda na aukazifanya zinawiri, huku ukiruka ruka hewani kana kwamba mambo yote ni sawa.
Kwa wale waliojiunga na kanisa la ICC majuzi kati ya 2006 hadi leo, ni muhimu kujuwa kuwa lilikuwa pahali ambapo Wakenya walitolea mhanga, kwa hali na mali, kuifanya kanisa hilo liwe vile lilivyo siku ya leo. Wakenya ni wapenzi wa Mwenyezi Mungu na waonapo kanisa nzuri ambayo itawalisha na neno la Mungu, hutumia mali na hali yao kuifanya nyumba hio ifaulu. Vyombo vya muziki, vyombo vya kupasa sauti, viti, vyombo vya barafu na kadhalika vilinunuliwa na waumini waliokuwa wakisali huko miaka ya 2002, 2003, 2004 kabla farakano, kutoelewana, na rabsha rabsha zilizofata na kuwafanya wengi, mie nikiwa mmoja wao kupiga guu na kuondoka, nikiyasahau na kuyaacha yote nyuma na kuendeleza maisha yangu kwingineko.
Chuki, utengamano, kutoaminiana......uonapo leo kati ya Wakenya hapa Baltimore ilianza katika kanisa la ICC. Ni jambo la kushangaza na kuhusunisha nisomapo kwamba hata baada ya wengi kuondoka miaka mingi iliopita, hali imeendelea kudorora na kusambaratika kiasi kwamba sasa imekuwa tena zogo na mzozo usioeleweka. Wengi walisahau na kusamehe yote walioyaona nyakati hizo. Ni vizuri kusamehe au kusuluhisha mambo Kiukenya kwani wakati wa kiama, wengi ya wachungaji na waumini watakuwa na maswali mengi ya KUMJIBU.
Am glad pastor Karanja has been exposed, he is arrogant and has no Godliness in him. You can deceive people sometimes but not all the time. Pastor Karanja casts evil spells to his church members and the public in the name of God.
Hope justice is done on him so that he can learn to humble himself before the Lord.
Oh dear. These men are supposed to be father figures. This is juz disgusting. Obviously this was a deal going bad. They all planned to eat public money meant for the poor or for the work of God, but one of them was more greedier and had more access to the money than the others. They all think pple are stupid. How do you give somebody 5K without expecting something on top of the returns? They are all thieves and God himself will deal with them
Baba Mwaura, I no longer have respect for you. How will you recover your money by bringing this issue out in public? Don't you know the law (of God and of the land). What do you stand to achieve by doing what you have done? Infact, this is a tort of defamation and you could get sued for trying to defame Pastor Karanja. We did not need to know your business. The lady you mentioned is a grown woman and if she was sexually harrassed, she does not need Baba Mwaura to come to her defense, there are legal channels that she can pursue.
Kibobi, I question your intentions, not to mention your loyalties? Did you not stand in church on numerous ocassions and tell us time and time again how Pastor and his wife have supported you in the past?
Kenyans, indeed shame has befallen us if grown men supposed to be community leaders can bicker in public like small kids. Shindwe!
Luke 8:17: "For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad."
Bringing this issue out in public is not only necessary but warranted. As pastor, he is a public figure and I believe his congregation needs to know about it. Kenyans need to stop hiding and covering up each other's mistakes and crimes. Let's promote a culture of honesty and make people think twice before doing anything unethical.
The person that commits the crime is the guilty party not the person that outs them. Get it straight.
I will echo the words of the Worcester Minister, when he said lets call a spade and a spade. Thank you Baba Mwaura for bringing this to the limelight. "Pastors" have continued doing disgusting staff hiding under the umbrella of the church since so many people fear to point fingers at them. Fear is weapon of the devil, evil has to rooted from church it does not matter who, we are equal in the eyes God, Jesus Himself turned tables of the money chargers and through them out of the. For the House God is a house prayer. We cannot continue turning a blind eye when the House God continue to be defiled.
Mr. Karanja (pastor) is not exempt, he need to be exposed, he has taken the for granted for such a long time, my advise to you, repent and seek forgiveness and is faithfully to forgive. David in the bible is described a man after God heart, because he was quick to repent and not defend his action as an adulterer and murder; do the same pastor, recently you preached a very powerful message about planting a seed and forgiving, the seed is not money, it is what you do, your actions, because what you sow is what you leap. Sow forgiveness and you will leap forgiveness.
To Mr. Mwaura, because like many people you did not chose to do nothing, you did something, I will quote Edmund Burke who became one of the leading British Politicians of the 18th century today he is remember of his statement, "all that is necessary for the forces of evil to prevail is that enough good men do nothing". When he saw wrong being committed, he could not "do nothing". He boldly spoke out and took action. He opposed the Stamp Act, which helped spark the American Revolution. He also took a strong stand against oppression in India.
Go Baba Mwaura!!!. Enough good men have chosen to say or do nothing to this pastor, allow evil to prevail in the church, we are co- workers with Christ to root out the evils in the society by speaking about it and bring every high minded thing that exhaust itself against the knowledge of God through prayers bring it to the obedience of God. Let all God fearing pray.
Bishop Kibobi is an honest man whom I love. He keeps a true record of how he spends the money the donors send. Didn't you see that he has a non-profit organaisation?
On the other hand, Pastor Karanja needs to repent of the sins He has done in order to avoid God's wrath. Ontu Baba Mwaura, Don't worry because God in heaven is the owner of all the gold and earthly riches. He will surely repay you when pressed down,shaken together and running over!
And to all of you who are posting hate speches BEWARE because you can never mock God and GET AWAY WITH IT!
Oh Kenyans, be rational. Understand other people ancestral religions and your own. Understand the cultures that others have and attach to politics includign colonialism See how the religions came to us Open your eyes to the versions of these religions coming to you.
Dont revert back to biblical selective (mis)quoations to counter their biblical (mis)positioning.
Open your eyes.
Use your money to help your people or Loose your money to help people purporting to help your people.