Surviving Execution: Haunted by the Memory of a Near Death Experience

By Nathan Johnson

10/31/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern)The memories of the night attack are still fresh on my mind. It has been like a film that you watch now and then. It was gruesome. We were taken out of our homes at night by an armed gang of ten. They tied our hands at the back and lined us up along the main street. We knew that everything was not alright when the group divided into two and went ahead to our neighbor’s house. They brought out two other men tied just like us and now we were four in number.

Jonathan Kaingu Ngoa survived the August 18, 2017 attack in Maleli village, Lamu County, Kenya. However, he was left with a serious neck wound that almost paralyzed him.

Jonathan continued, “A few minutes later, we heard gunshots from the neighbor’s home where the other group of terrorists shot dead a man in his house. They began to ask us questions related to Islam and why we are still Christians living in a land that is Muslim dominated. One of us knew the basic doctrines of Islam and he was able to recite some verses from the Quran. He was freed unconditionally.”

When al-Shabaab militants conduct these attacks in Kenya, they identify as many Christians as they can. They force people to show their national IDs, which say what their religion is. If this does not work, they look at the individual’s name, which will often reveal what faith the person follows. Finally, if neither of these methods work, they force those they suspect to be Christians to say the Shahada, an Islamic statement of faith. When the targets cannot say it or refuse, they are executed.

Jonathan continued, “They said a certain prayer and started by beheading my two friends on the left. I was the third one on the line and the sound of my friends being butchered still haunts me to date. It was heart-wrenching. I gave up on ever living and thanked God that He would receive my soul. He stepped on my head and started cutting my neck. It was so painful,” sobbed Jonathan. “I passed out. I didn’t know what went on after that.”

“It was heart-wrenching. I gave up on ever living and thanked God that He would receive my soul.”

Shortly after the attack, security officers arrived in the village. They had heard reports that the village had been ruined by the jihadist group based in Somalia. Fortunately, Jonathan was still alive, although unconscious. The police picked him up immediately and rushed him to the hospital where he received immediate care.

The terrorist organization is able to conduct these attacks due to a porous border with their home country of Somalia. They are conducting these attacks in Kenya, because Kenya has been supportive of the central government in Somalia and its fight against al-Shabaab. Though not all of their attacks succeed, it is rare for someone to survive being captured by the terrorist organization.

This particular attack led to the displacement of all the Christian residents of Maleli village. It also came barely a month after a similar night attack in nearby Jima village that left seven men dead.  Jonathan, along with all of these other Christians, now lives in a government settlement at Katsaka Kairo with his wife and two children.

During ICC’s visit, Jonathan said he is thankful to God for giving him a new lease on life.  “I believe that miracles still happen [because] I did not bleed to death from the deep cut on my neck. Although I almost got paralysis, the Lord has helped me overcome and regain my health and strength. Sometimes, I experience pain whenever I undertake hard work.

ICC will be helping Jonathan start a new motorcycle taxi business. With this, he will be able to better care for his family and will not have to return to the land he once worked as a farmer, but now only holds terror and sadness for him. Please pray for those in Kenya who suffer at the hands of hatred and violence due to their faith.

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