Ten Kenyan church members killed in post-election violence, minister says
At least 10 members of Churches of Christ in Kenya have died in the violence, missionary James E. Jones told The Christian Chronicle Wednesday morning.
Another church member was injured in a shooting and hundreds more were barricaded in their homes as mobs protested the results of a recent presidential election in the east African nation.
Missionaries working in the most volatile regions of the country said that mobs burned buildings within a mile of their homes.
Five members of Aggies for Christ, a campus ministry in Texas, are working with street children near the capital, Nairobi, and are safe, said missionary Charles Coulston. Four Kenyans who are members of the Brentwood Oaks church in Austin, Texas, traveled home to see family for the holidays and were trapped temporarily, minister Roger McCown said.
Jones, who works with a radio ministry in Nashville, Tenn., has maderegular trips to Kenya for 10 years and works with Isaac Onoka, aminister in Nakuru, a city in central Kenya near the focal points ofmuch of the recent unrest.
According to Onoka’s report, seven church members have died in the townof Narok. Two more died in the western Kenyan city of Kisumu. Onemember died near Mount Sinai Bible Camp, a church-supported facilitynear Mauche.
Though the situation has improved in the past four or five days,“people still fear and very few can be seen in the streets,” Onokawrote in a recent message to Jones. “We had never witnessed such asituation in our country before.”
The ethnically charged violence has created shortages of food and water in parts of the country, Kenyan church members told The Christian Chronicle.
Charles Ngoje, a Kenyan minister working as a missionary in neighboring Tanzania, also warned of brewing genocide.
“There is potential of this situation exploding into another Rwanda,” Ngoje said from his home in Moshi, Tanzania. “We must pray against this.”
ELECTION SPARKED ETHNIC VIOLENCE
On Dec. 27 Kenyans went to the polls to decide between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga. Three days later Kenya’s Electoral Commission declared Kibaki the winner, but international observers said the election was flawed. Voter turnout in one area was recorded as 115 percent, according to news reports.
That prompted supporters of Odinga to target members of the president’s ethnic group — the Kikuyu. Some Kenyans accuse the Kikuyu, the largest of Kenya’s more than 40 ethnic groups, of wielding unfair influence over Kenya’s politics and economy.
Most of the bloodshed has occurred in Kenya’s Rift Valley province. There, in the city of Eldoret, a mob burned a Kenya Assemblies of God church to the ground on Tuesday, killing about 30 people seeking shelter inside — an act reminiscent of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Mobs also attacked a community of Kikuyu near the home of missionaries Keith and Grace Gafner. A barn full of straw, less than a mile from the Gafners’ house, went up in flames. The Gafners left their home and currently are staying with friends.
“We are not in as bad condition as some of the brethren,” Keith Gafner said in a recent e-mail. “They are sleeping in the forests at night.”
Several church members have taken in Kikuyu families, despite threats that their homes will be burned, the missionary added.
Protests and riots have erupted in parts of Nairobi. Workers with Made in the Streets, a church-supported ministry for street children, have shut down the ministry’s Eastleigh center until calm returns, coordinator Charles Coulston said.
Members of Aggies for Christ, a College Station, Texas-based campus ministry, are running a day camp for children at the ministry’s Kamulu Center, 20 miles from downtown Nairobi. The area has remained calm, Coulston said, but some of the campers are concerned about their relatives who live in areas affected by the unrest.
CHURCHES STRUGGLE TO PROVIDE SHELTER, FOOD
In Kenya’s coastal Mombasa region, a Church of Christ is providing shelter for 20 Christians — some of them Kikuyu, said Ken Beckloff, global outreach minister for the Memorial Road church in Oklahoma City.
A group of Kenyans asked the church’s minister, Juma Mukewa, why he was sheltering Kikuyus.
“I am for all people, without discrimination,” Mukewa replied.
Another Mombasa minister, Michael Mutai, said that many church families have barricaded themselves in their homes, their sleep interrupted by gunfire.
Supply lines are blocked, and food is scarce, Mutai said. When the minister was able to venture from his house, he found a family of five camping at the compound of the church he serves.
“We gave them what is available — prayers, water and a room to sleep,” Mutai told the Chronicle.
“Several people, including church members, may die due to hunger,” Mutai said. “We are appealing to church members around the world … to continue praying for our safety and for God’s peace to prevail.”
Charles Ngoje traveled to Kenya in mid-December to visit Winyo Christian Academy, a church-supported school that recently graduated its first class.
Shortly after returning to his home in Moshi, Tanzania, the violence erupted in Kenya. Ngoje tried in vain to reach his brother, Lawrence, a church member in Winyo.
After several sleepless nights, Lawrence Ngoje reached his brother by phone.
The Winyo church cancelled its New Year’s Eve service, but met early on New Year’s Day for prayers, Lawrence Ngoje told his brother.
A stray bullet fired by a police officer struck 22-year-old Stacy Karunga in the arm. Karunga, the daughter of Winyo church elder James Karunga, was taken to the hospital in Rongo.
“Pray for us,” Lawrence Ngoje said in a Thursday e-mail. “We need strength, both spiritual and physical …, to push us through the struggles.”
He also asked church members to pray “that even if we are to die, then we die in the Lord, to be with the Father.”
The following congregations are collecting funds for Kenya relief:
South 11th and Willis Church of Christ
3309 S. 11th
Abilene, TX 79605
Memorial Road Church of Christ
2221 E. Memorial Road
Edmond, OK 73013
White’s Ferry Road church of Christ
3201 N 7th St.
West Monroe, LA 71291
Feedbackhow can we get aid to Somalian refugees?Danielshelbournevictoria, bc
canadaJuly, 23 2011I am passing on a message from Sanyu Isaac, a minister in Uganda:
Thanks so much for your updates and concerns about the situation in Kenya. I should say that we in Uganda are also very much affected with the events unfolding in Kenya and I believe that as of now it has ceased to be just a Kenyan problem but a regional one.
We should all be prayerful about what is happening because this problem has potential to spread across the other African nations, especially within the East African region and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Fuel prices in Uganda have gone up from 2,000 shillings to almost 10,000 shillings per liter of petrol. So many Ugandans are trapped in Kenya. A number of Kenyans on the borders have crossed into Uganda.
We have a team of our members of Kampala Church of Christ who had traveled to Tanzania and on the way back got trapped in Nairobi and are being housed and protected by George Onchang, who resides in Nairobi. They are eight in number. I would like to really applaud and thank George for that Spirit he has shown to all of us.
George, may God bless you for having such a heart. May we all pray for Mother Kenya and the region as a whole.
— Sanyu Isaac,January, 8 2008Erik,
Thanks for the report. I am proud of our church members who are risking their lives to protect others from the violence; I am sad about the loss of life and the ethnic hatred inflaming the country; I will be praying for Kenya. You have done a good job in getting this information to us. I will be placing a link on my blog to this story, so that others may know about it. http://adisciplesthoughts.blogspot.com,January, 5 2008I received a report Friday afternoon that two church members were killed in Kisumu, a city located on Lake Victoria in western Kenya. Kisumu is home to the Ring Road Church of Christ. A church-run orphanage houses about 45 children there. Church member Lawrence Okongo reports that the children are without food and water.
The Chronicle continues to receive reports of church members in Kenya�s high-tension areas being harassed and threatened for harboring Kikuyu people in their homes.
Mission workers in the U.S. warn against attempting to send relief funds directly to Kenya at this time. Most of the businesses and banks in the troubled areas are closed, and church members are concerned that any money sent may not get to the areas where it�s needed.
— Erik Tryggestad,January, 4 2008