ICC Note: As the world gathered for the International Day of Prayer, many would consider those who have been persecuted first-hand would be the last to consider their attackers as prayer worthy. However that is not the case in Kenya as one Christian educator named Gladys who lost her husband during a separate attack by Al-Shabaab on the day of the Garissa University massacre where close to 150 Christians were murdered by the Islamic group. The first reaction to Gladys’ loss was to return home and pray for the murderers asking God to forgive them. It was not easy for her but she realized what was reaching out to her was love, the love of Christ.
11/03/2015 Kenya (Christian Post) – Christians from around the world shared their stories of persecution during the International Day of Prayer on Sunday, offering prayers for both victims and perpetrators of terrorism.
Persecution watchdog Open Doors featured several Christian witnesses on its IDOP live webcast and fielded questions from social media regarding the Christian participants.
One Christian woman, an educator from Kenya identified as Gladys, spoke of the horrific attacks at a college in Garissa back in April, where Islamic militants killed close to 150 Christian students.
Gladys, who used to live in the city, said that after the massacre “there was anger, there was fear, it caused people to move out of Garissa.” She had also suffered the loss of her husband, Benjamin, who was killed in a separate attack by a Muslim mob. It is not yet known who the attackers were, but they are believed to have been linked to the al-Shabaab terror group, which killed the Christian students.
Benjamin and a Christian pastor he was walking with were attacked by the mob, hacked to death with machetes, and burned beyond recognition.
After learning what happened to her husband, Gladys revealed: “The first thing I did, I remember getting into the living room of my house, kneeling at the coffee table, and crying, ‘God forgive them.’ That was the first thing I said, and I kept on insisting on that — ‘Forgive them, Father, forgive them.'”
She said that praying to God to forgive those who killed her husband “was tough, it was not easy.”
“But one thing I had to allow myself to do, I had to allow God to deal with me in pain. The thing that I felt reaching out to me was love. And love these people who had done this. I tried very hard to think about this in my mind, but my heart was leading totally toward love,” she added.
Gladys noted that there is a division between Christians and Muslims in Kenya, but said that Christians are encouraged to reach out to others, because “Christ is about love.”
“If you keep quiet, people will not hear about this love,” she said.
The Kenyan educator said there are many ways for Christians in the West to help during such tragedies — from donating money to causes, to writing letters of encouragement to people who are suffering. She also said some people feel called by God to become missionaries and go to help on the ground, but emphasized that prayer is needed for such a big decision.
“The first thing to do is seek the Lord, ask where He wants you to go.”
As for relations between Christians and Muslims, Gladys said, “We don’t need to fear Muslims. What’s so different between me and a Muslim? The blood I have is the same color as the Muslim.”