As we walk into the compound, the compound dwellers smile genuinely at us, giving us a strong handshake followed by a squeezing hug as though they have been waiting a long time to see us. We feel we are at home miles away from home. That was the welcome we received from the local believers when we paid them a visit during our ministry’s (Mchungaji Kundi Moja (MKM) food distribution campaign among the minority Christians in northeastern Kenya.
Two of their leaders direct us to a room where a table and several chairs await us. You might think it was a board meeting we were holding in the middle of the desert. One leader whom we shall call Abdi removes his goggles and the cape adorning his head, bows down and prays, “Isa al Masihi, thank you for bringing our brothers safe from Nairobi, and thank you for enabling us to see their faces; they are truly radiant and full of your glory. Isa, we acknowledge your Lordship over this meeting and from Yahweh we have received such a love. In the name of Isa Al Masihi, we pray. Amen.”
In the African style of community we ask “How have you been?”
They reply, “We have been well protected and provided for by the Lord in the midst of great persecution. We still meet every Sunday from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. to share the Word and sing hymns and songs. We also encourage one another to remain strong in Christ despite great discrimination.
Our meetings are often characterized by stones being thrown at us. After receiving a warning from the police, they stopped for some time but have started to throw again. Seven family men with their wives and children attend the service.
We were many, around 43 believer families. Some went back to their home country, some perished in the sea when they tried to escape to Yemen after the persecution in their homeland became so fierce. Sadly, others opted to return to Islam to survive because of the heavy discrimination against Christians here in the camp.
“What is the nature of this discrimination?” we ask.
For one thing, we are hunted down like animals. Every turn we make is taken with an eye over our shoulder lest we meet a knife at the corner. A sister to one of our Christian brothers would not tell them where her brother was and they slaughtered her like an animal. She was seven months pregnant. They consider her brother our pastor. His own son was shot seven times in the stomach. He miraculously survived.
Still one of his nephews was tied hands and feet, beaten thoroughly, and thrown into the ocean. The nephew called out the name of “JESUS” three times and the ropes that bound him broke loose. He grabbed onto a plank of wood that came from nowhere. For five days and five nights he was in the ocean being driven by the waves of the sea. Thank God we found him and he is here with us. So when some of the people see all these things, they opt to go back to Islam to avoid persecution. It is only the grace of God that has held us.
“So how have we been surviving?”
Mainly the fellowship of one another has been central to our survival. For us when Paul says “forsake not the coming together of brethren … but encourage one another especially now…,” we take that seriously because it is the key for us to hold firmly to the faith we profess.
We thank God for MKM. You people have been used by God to bring food for our families. You see, as we are seated here our families are happy because they know at the end of this day they will have something to eat, unlike some days when we have to go hungry. Our people wait for this distribution as though it was the day Christ will come back! We pray every day, wherever it is coming from, let that well never run dry.