The Samaritans: Evangelism in East Africa
By Nathan Johnson
05/11/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Kilonzo Musili was killed on February 19, 2020, when the Somali-based militant group, al-Shabaab, attacked a bus traveling from the border town of Mandera in northeastern Kenya to Nairobi. He died alongside another Christian man, Kevin Owen Onyango, and a Muslim faithful who attempted to shield him from the assailants.
Mr. Musili’s daughter, Syumbua, says that losing her father was the most painful experience she has ever had in her entire life. She spoke to International Christian Concern (ICC) as she remembered him.
“I cannot explain what it was like in one word, but I just wished that it was not true.” She said.
“We had lost a close family member a few days before my father was killed and I was supposed to travel on Thursday the 20th to go for the burial. My dad was traveling on Wednesday the 19th for the same burial when he was shot dead by Muslim radicals from Somalia for declining to deny Christ and recite the Shahada. I could not endure losing my father while mourning a close family member and a friend. It was a very sad, and painful experience I have ever had in this life,” sobbed Syumbua.
The attack that led to the killing of Mr. Musili came just two months after 11 Christians were killed in Wajir county in the same manner. Syumbua and her family were worried about the risk of traveling from Mandera to Nairobi by bus, but they were hopeful that her father would reach home safely. As fate would have it, Kilonzo Musili never made it. His death was not only a blow to his family of seven, but also to the entire community of Kathanze, a remote area in the outskirts of Mwingi district.
“He was not only my father, but also my best friend, mentor and prayer partner. His hard work, a resilient spirit, and care for the family are unforgettable. A day could not end without receiving his call. He was a gentle soul who genuinely cared about us and other people. Life has not been easy, sometimes it’s full of despair but we keep our hope in our Heavenly Father,” Syumbua remembered
Musili was his family’s sole breadwinner, who had put his life on the line to fend for his family. Through his expertise in welding, he was able to take all his children through school and provide for other basic needs. Without him, the family has plunged into lack and uncertainty, not knowing where their next meal will come from.
“My dad’s death has suddenly precipitated other secondary losses as evident in changes in our lives right now. His demise left us with a dire need for basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter. All the existing semi-permanent buildings are worn out and unsafe,” Syumbua narrated.
Syumbua will remember her father for his commitment to God. She shared, “He loved God with all his heart. He has immensely contributed to who I am today, and for that, I will always remember him. From his commitment to God, I learned how to be a practical Christian as well as developing spiritual disciplines like prayer, quiet time with God, and journaling.”
From the Christian background taught by her father, Syumbua has not let his untimely death be a setback to having the mind of Christ. She has forgiven her father’s attackers. She expressed, “If I meet the attackers today, I would present to them the transforming good news of our gracious Lord Jesus Christ. I thank God for the courage to pray for them even during the funeral day that one day they will come to know the truth and experience the newness of life in Jesus Christ. My heart is compassionate towards not only the attackers but many other people who are attacked and die for not being Muslims but are not in Christ.”
In conclusion, Syumbua has a word to the family of Kevin Owen Onyango and other hurting families who have lost their loved ones through terrorism in Northeastern Kenya.
“I would like to send my encouragement to the family of Kevin Owen Onyango and other families that have lost people through persecution in Kenya. May the Lord comfort them by the power of the Holy Spirit who is our greatest comforter and Helper. May we remember that our hope is in the Lord Jesus in times of pain and sorrow. The troubles of this fallen world are inevitable, but they will be ultimately dealt with in the new city (Revelation 21:4). Let us rejoice in this promise.”
The amazing faith and forgiveness of this young woman and the many others like her who suffer daily for Christ is one of the greatest witnesses. Please continue to partner with ICC in supporting families like that of Syumbua, whether through prayer or gifts to ICC’s Rescue Fund.