When Hadassa*, an Open Doors worker, recently visited the Salvation Army Church in the Majengo area of Mombasa Island, she didn’t know what to expect. In October last year the church was razed to the ground following the murder of a prominent Muslim cleric, and there has been a history of violence against Christians in the area.
Hadassa says: “I found the pedestrian gate open. Children ran around playing as they waited for the service to begin. Church members also milled around, catching up with each other. The atmosphere was relaxed, no sign of the previous heaviness.”
Major Robert Nzioka, the leader of the church, said “We used to receive regular threats, especially on Sundays as congregants walked to church… But these threats have stopped almost completely.
“The few members who still hear comments are now bold enough to respectfully assert their right to worship… The support we have received after attacks has served to strengthen us. We now know that we are not a small church struggling to stay alive here, but that we are part of the wider body of Christ who genuinely cares about us.”
After the attacks last year, we asked you to pray for Majengo Salvation Army Church and write to encourage the church there. Many responded, Open Doors was able to present Robert with a package of letters and cards from around the world.
The smile on Robert’s face could have lit up the room. “May God bless you for bringing us these letters!”
The cards were distributed at the end of the service, a few to each person. At first the church fell silent. “And then I started hearing whispers. ‘Thank you! Tell them thank you!’ I heard and felt the sincerity and depth of emotions contained in those simple statements,” Hadassa says.
Ephy (11) and Catherine (10) came over to show off their cards and say thank you. When Hadassa asked what he should say to people who wrote the letters, they immediately responded: “Please tell them, ‘we love you too!'”
Faith, carrying baby Abigail, smiled as she said, “Mine is from Roy and Judith in England. Thank them from me and tell them I too will be praying for them.”
Jeremiah wrote a note, saying: “You have made us proud to be one in Christ with you and we wish to extend our great love and prayers to all who have touched our hearts. God bless you all.”
Major Robert wrote this personal note to say thank you:
Dear Comrades in Christ,
I thank the Almighty God because of His powers over my family and the entire church. God is good all the time, we have peace in Mombasa, the area is now cool, Jesus under control. We appreciate your gifts, and we thank you for your special word of encouragement. Thank you, God bless you all for that tender love. We know we have friends who stand with us in times of persecutions through prayers. “Together in Christ in prayers we stand.”
God bless you very much,
Yours in Christ,
Major Robert Nzioka.
Hadassa left praising God, and noted that almost four hours later the church compound was still packed with various believers, holding meetings, talking and relaxing with their friends. The fact that they didn’t feel the need to rush away was the best proof of their healing and security.
However, Kenya still needs your prayers. On 4 November Sheikh Salim Bakari Mwarangi, a moderate Muslim cleric, was shot dead by unknown assailants, and our contacts say that the atmosphere was tense in the Likoni region of Mombasa in the following days. Mombasa has seen several instances of violence following tragic events such as these, and Christians have often borne the brunt of the violence in the past.
*name changed for security reasons
Source: Open Doors; BBC
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