(Photo: Reuters/Chris Mann)
Two pastors in Kenya were shot Thursday morning by unknown gunmen who killed one of the men and wounded the other, according to a report from Open Doors, a Christian persecution watchdog.
Open Doors, who has ministry workers in the east Africa country, received information that Pastor Ibrahim Makunyi of the East Africa Pentecostal Church and Pastor Abdi Welli were attacked by the gunmen in the city of Garissa, Kenya. Welli was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital while Pastor Makunyi was immediately rushed to a hospital. Makunyi's condition was described as stable and out of danger.
Welli, who was evangelized, discipled and mentored by Makunyi, is survived by his wife Hellen and three young sons.
Garissa is a violence-stricken city in northeastern Kenya. Al-Shabaab, an Islamist terrorist group, has been targeting Christians and Christian churches in the area, Open Doors stated. Last July, terrorists killed 16 people during bombings at two churches in Garissa.
"The attack today is the latest in increasing violence, especially in the Garissa area. It was reported by Open Doors that 22 Christians were killed in incidents last year and over 100 seriously injured or maimed," said Open Doors USA spokesman Jerry Dykstra.
Political instability in Kenya, triggered by influences from the Muslim minority group al-Shabaab, is causing great concern over the future religious atmosphere in the east Africa country, Open Doors recently stated. Even prior to the latest incident, the organization has been asking for prayer with less than one month to go before the country's general election.
The shooting and killing on Thursday prompted Open Doors to release a new set of prayer requests that include praying for the family of Welli, his widow Hellen and three sons as they mourn the loss of their husband and father, and "quick healing and comfort of Pastor Makunyi as he has lost his spiritual son."
Also, the ministry organization asks for prayer for "comfort and reassurance for Pastor Makunyi's family as they live and work in Garissa," and also lists:
- Pray for the congregants of the East Africa Pentecostal Church as Pastor Makunyi recovers.
- Pray for the security situation in Garissa.
- Pray for the believers there as they live in constant danger.
More than 1,200 people died in post-election violence in 2007. After the setup of a tribunal was blocked by politicians in Kenya, the International Criminal Court decided to prosecute six politicians. Charges against two were dropped, while two of the remaining four are running in the elections – one for president and the other as his running mate. The election is scheduled for March 4.
"The future for the Church in Kenya is worrying," OD said in a statement released to The Christian Post. "The level of fear among Christians is growing rapidly. The Islamist drive is diverse and strong."
According to OD experts, "The government is fearful, does not know how to handle the Islamist drive, and thus has a tendency to give in easily to demands, sometimes at the expense of the churches."
OD asks in its statement, "What will happen next, will the coastal area break away? If so, the Church in that part of country will face very difficult times. Will Islamism get more and more of a hold on the rest of Kenya? That is very possible, the more so because the process and events in Kenya seem more regional than only national."
The role of Open Doors in Kenya, as it is with many of the countries that its ministry field workers are operating in includes the distribution of Bibles, theological leadership training courses, discipleship training, and family ministry seminars. Also, the organization says that other projects in the country include cross-cultural seminars, socio-economic projects, and holistic awareness seminars.