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Pastor Murdered in Front of His Congregation

ICC Note: The fact that we don’t often hear of attacks on Christians in the Caribbean makes this incident all the more devastating.

3/22/07 Trinidad & Tobago (Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday) – While a pastor worshipped with his congregation during the wee hours of Wednesday morning outside his makeshift church at Moruga, two men pumped two bullets into his head, killing him instantly.

Pastor Kelvin Austin, 34, who is usually called “Leader,” had recently moved his flock from Erin to Gomez Trace, Moruga.

Some members of his congregation confessed that Austin knew that his life was in danger and had even written to Prime Minister Patrick Manning asking for police protection.

Austin, the leader of an independent church called IAM Mantle Sword of the Spirit was gunned down in the presence of young children and adults.

According to members of the congregation the shooting occurred at about 5 am just outside Austin ’s galvanised shack, which he also used as his church.

He and about 20 members of his church were outside worshipping when two men came up to the gathering announcing themselves as police. They then ordered everyone to lie on the ground and demanded: “Who is Austin ? Who is Austin ?” As soon as Austin stood up and announced his presence, they shot him twice in the head.

The men, one wearing a black wig with red streaks, then ran away, pushing aside a 12-year-old girl in the process. They are alleged to have entered a waiting car.

Members of the congregation gathered around the lifeless body of their leader, mourning his death.

The congregation consisted mainly of young people and infants, including a three-month-old baby.

Austin, his wife Natasha, their two children and 16 other worshippers had recently moved to the area with their flock. They occupied a three bedroom galvanised house, which was without electricity, pipeborne water or telephone.

Apart from the house, there were two small tents outside the building where Austin and another adult slept separately. Sean Reyes, a member of Austin ’s congregation, said he knew about the letter Austin had sent to Manning asking for police protection. But when questioned as to how Austin knew someone was trying to kill him (Austin) and why, Reyes replied that the information came from God.

Austin of Erin founded the IAM Mantle Sword of the Spirit ministry about five years ago.

Kimberly John, 19, one of its members, commenting on the exodus from Erin to St Mary’s Village, Moruga, calmly said, “Whereever the Lord sends us we go, and the Lord sent us here.”

Earlin Dyer, a resident of the area said that she heard two gunshots but thought it was hunters since she heard no screams.

Dyer and other residents said they knew nothing of Austin and his church as the new residents always kept to themselves.