Deadly Attacks on Christians in Kenya
The year is young, but it has already turned deadly for Kenyan brothers and sisters in Christ. Reports indicate terrorists have brutally murdered at least 7 Christians and set homes ablaze in recent days.
This was striking to me because Kenya is not the first place I think of as a danger zone for followers of Jesus. Christianity is the majority religion there. In fact, the U.S. State Department indicates that 85.5 percent on Kenyans identify as Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, or some form of Christian background.
But the threats are real. Voice of the Martyrs lists Kenya as “hostile” in its Global Prayer Guide. Similarly, Open Doors USA identifies the persecution level for Christians as “very high” and places Kenya at number 49 on its World Watch List of the top 50 most dangerous places for Christians.
According to Open Doors, “The situation for Christians in Kenya has remained dire over the last three years. While Kenya moved down five spots from the 2020 World Watch List, violence actually increased significantly—reflecting an overall increase in persecution across the list versus an improved situation for Kenyan Christians.”
The danger is most acute in Muslim-majority regions along Kenya’s coast and in the northeast near the border of Somalia. The Islamic terrorist group al-Shabab is particularly vicious and, according to Open Doors, get assistance from local informants to coordinate assaults on Christians.
Al-Shabab extremists are suspected in these latest murders of 2022. In one village a local pastor told International Christian Concern (ICC), “I counted seven houses that were torched down, four bodies of people burnt beyond recognition inside the houses… A body shot dead right outside a burnt house and another beheaded body next to it.”
A seventh Christian was killed and left to burn in his house in another nearby village less than 24 hours later.
After the first attack security officials indicated they were pursuing “the perpetrators of this heinous act,” but the pastor said residents are wondering why there weren’t more protections to prevent it. In its report, Open Doors suggests local officials in these danger zones often turn a blind eye to such persecution.
“The enemy is still roaming free within our region,” another Kenyan church leader told ICC. He asked for prayer and physical help for affected families from fellow Christians around the world.
As I consider how to pray for my Kenyan brothers and sisters, this request from Open Doors seemed to particularly resonate:
Pray for Christians in the northeast who face threats of deadly attacks from al-Shabab. Ask God to protect them, to shelter them from violence and to give them a peace that only comes from Him.
How will you pray against persecution of Christians in Kenya today? Share in the comments!
Aaron Mercer is a Contributing Writer with two decades of experience in Washington, D.C.’s public policy arena.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
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