by John Stewart, Ratio Christi's International Director
With the well-publicized atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria, there is a growing concern for the safety of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. However, I have experienced first-hand that Islamic terrorism targeting Christians is not confined to the Middle East, but is rampant throughout parts of Africa where I have traveled and taught.
In April 2012, I taught apologetics at a Bible school 20 miles outside Nairobi, Kenya. One Sunday during that trip I was blessed with the opportunity to speak at both morning services at a church in South B, a church on the edge of a Nairobi slum. Toward the end of the second service the news came that approximately a mile away, about the time I had begun speaking to around 700 people, members of al-Shabaab, the Al Qaeda offshoot in Africa, lobbed a grenade into a church service, killing one and injuring many. Imagine the irony of attending a service to worship the Prince of Peace and finding, instead, carnage in the sanctuary.
One of my students that same year at the Bible School near Nairobi was Julius Mukenzi, a quiet young man who wanted to learn the Scriptures so that he could pursue a pastoral ministry. After classes were out that spring, Julius returned to his home near Mombassa, Kenya, where he served as the church security guard while waiting for opportunities to minister the Word. In September 2012, he was in his church building when al-Shabaab terrorists attacked the church, tossing a grenade onto the roof, cutting short Julius’ life and ministry on earth. His death did not dissuade the believers from their worship and dedication to Jesus. Instead, they increased their efforts to reach out to Muslims, resulting in many conversions.
My wife Laurie and I have seen abject poverty in Kenya alongside affluence. Ramshackle stands along many roadways offer bananas for Ks 5 (about $.06 USD), while a few upscale shops and malls sell expensive clothing and carvings. On more than one occasion we visited Westgate Mall in Nairobi, located near the embassies and catering to Western tastes at Western prices. In September of 2013 Islamic terrorists entered Westgate Mall bent on killing Christians. Some of the attackers told the Muslims to leave, while others first demanded the professing Muslims recite the shahada (a pillar of Islam regarding Allah being the only god, and Muhammad his messenger) before being released. Eyewitnesses confirm that when the terrorists asked men and women if they were Muslims, when a person replied, “No, I am a Christian,” that person was shot dead. During the two-day siege, 67 men, women and children, mostly professing Christians, were massacred while Muslims were allowed to leave…
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