Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Church Attacks

Many of you may have heard about the Sunday attacks on two churches in Garissa, a town in North-Eastern Kenya, about 200 miles from Nairobi. On Sunday, balaclava-clad men shot two police officers, stole their assault rifles, and then proceeded to shoot the worshippers at an African Inland Church. Grenades were also thrown into the church, as well as into a Catholic church. 17 people have died, and another 44 were injured. 36 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks so far, and this number is likely to rise as officials are attempting to gather as much information about the responsible groups. No organization has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet.

These "Black Sunday" attacks have been the worst attacks on a church in recent history, but they have not been the only attacks. There have been a series of small attacks on churches in Nairobi, mostly consisting of grenades thrown into church services. There have also been attacks on nightclubs, bus stops, and other public places.

These attacks have come as a result of a Kenya led invasion of Somalia that began in October of 2011. Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda linked terror organization that has been battling for control of Somalia, had been kidnapping aid workers and others from the Dadaab Refugee Camp. Kenyan Armed Forces began an invasion of Somalia to force Al Shabaab back away from the border of Kenya in order to protect its citizens and foreign aid workers.

As a result of this U.S. backed invasion, Al Shabaab and other Somali linked terror groups began the assault on public places in Nairobi, threatening to continue their attacks on shopping centers, hotels, and places of worship.

Pastoring a church in Nairobi while this is going on is not always the easiest. There is the thought, always in the back of my mind, that there could always be more attacks. We have made decisions about where to shop based on terror alerts that we receive from the embassy, and we avoid certain parts of town that are known to be more dangerous.

Kenya's location in Africa - close to or bordering troubled states such as Sudan and Somalia - makes it a prime location for militant Islam to rise. Islam is the fastest growing religion in Kenya. Since the early 1990s, mosques in Mombasa (a costal town popular with tourists) and other towns have resonated with militant Islamic rhetoric. Radical imams have preached violence against Westerners, attacked the Kenyan government as the lackey of the United States and Israel, and called for the implementation of Shari'ah law. The Al Qaeda bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania were organized in mosques near Mombasa.

The church is under attack in Kenya. The rise of Islam is cause for concern. But the good news is we serve a great God. Adrienne, the boys and I have been called here to shepherd the flock at Living Water. What God has called us to do, we will do with all the strength that He gives us. Would you join us in praying for this country, this church, and our family?

* Please pray for those who were attacked, that the injured would heal quickly, and the families of those who died would find comfort.

* Please pray for the Church as a whole in Kenya, that they would reach out to the Muslims in the country with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

* Please pray that there would be no retaliatory attacks against Muslims.

* Please pray for the safety of the churches of Kenya.

* Please pray for Living Water Christian Fellowship, that God would guide us as we shepherd His people.

* Please pray for continued safety for our family, as we continue living in Nairobi.

Neema na Amani,
(Grace and Peace)

Jonathan, for the F5