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By Troy Augustine and James Kake

Gunshots rang out early in the morning of April 2, 2015, and Anatstaciah Mikwa’s mind raced as she wondered what was happening.

“That was my first time to hear gunshots. It was at dawn and some students were in the prayer room while we slept,” Anastaciah told International Christian Concern’s (ICC) Kenya staffer.

Militant Islamist gunmen from the Somali terror group al-Shabaab had attacked Garissa University College that morning in northeastern Kenya where Anastaciah was enrolled as a student. By the end of the tragedy, they would murder 148 people, mostly Christians, as they separated Christians and Muslims to intentionally target followers of Christ. The assault represents one of the bloodiest terror attacks in Kenya’s history.

As students returned to Garissa University College last month to restart classes for the first time, months after the attack, Anastaciah remembers the horror like it was yesterday.

“They stormed in to our cubicle and started shooting at random. I had hidden under my bed when one of them torched and saw my back,” Anastaciah said. “They sprinkled bullets over my lower part of the body and I passed out. I regained my conscious at the hospital,” she recounted.

Anastaciah survived, by the grace of God.

“We did not know whether she was alive or dead. But we were happy when we were told she was in hospital,” Anastaciah’s mother remembered.

The family agonized for hours when they heard about the terrorist attack, which started at 5:30 a.m. and continued for another twelve hours before the students were rescued.

The gunshot wounds left Anastacia crippled. The survivors were flown to Nairobi for further treatment, and she was admitted to intensive care for three weeks. She could not speak, eat, or recognize anyone. She told ICC that she did not know if she would walk again after she regained consciousness at the hospital.

However, Annastaciah today thanks God that she is able to stand and walk on crutches. She was discharged from Defence Forces Memorial Hospital in Nairobi on October 13, 2015.

She has been undergoing delicate treatment for six months, involving 28 surgeries. “I am very happy that I’ve been discharged from [the] hospital after a long journey of six months,” she told ICC.  “The checkups have shown that I am recovering moderately and I thank my doctor very much,” she said.

Annastaciah sustained multiple gunshot injuries in the thighs and the legs. Her bones were shattered and it was impossible to tell how many bullets hit her. The doctors were able to remove three bullets and repair countless wounds through seemingly endless surgeries. Though she faces ongoing treatment, her future is bright. She also receives counselling and nutrition treatment. Anastaciah still remembers that fateful day filled with death and trauma. She will never forget the horror of what she saw and how God sustained her life through it.

She now eagerly looks ahead to joining Moi University to finish her studies.

She refuses to return to Garissa University College that was reopened last month, because the haunting memories and pain remain so fresh. The trauma clouds her thoughts and she fears the nightmares will disrupt her academic performance.

Still, as Anastaciah recovers physically and psychologically, she and her parents count their blessings.

“I am very happy to see my daughter walking and talking happily,” Anastacia’s father told ICC. “She will go back to class and continue with her studies, until she achieves her aims. We always thought about her, but all the time we knew she was with very caring doctors and God was watching over her,” he added.

On our recent trip to meet Annastaciah, ICC sought to encourage the family that has suffered such indelible persecution with a Christmas gift to demonstrate Christ’s love and our unity with them in the global Church. Annastaciah and her family need your prayers.

When asked what message she could tell the militants that injured her, Annastaciah responded: “I have forgiven them and I pray that they will receive Jesus Christ into their hearts and stop being terrorists.”

For interviews Please Contact Troy Augustine, Regional Manager for Africa: [email protected]

You are free to disseminate this news story. We request that you reference ICC (International Christian Concern) and include our web address, ICC is a Washington DC-based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides Awareness, Advocacy, and Assistance to the worldwide persecuted Church.  For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.