Church in Kenya Crushed by Community and COVID-19
By Nathan Johnson
05/22/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Distraught by the plight of his church family, John, a pastor in Mandera, Kenya, says that Christians in the northeastern county are being denied aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been denied food relief by the local authorities because they are Christians from outside the county. Furthermore, local Muslim communities have threatened and harassed them during Ramadan.
“The sad state of Christians in Mandera is being unpublished because of the cessation of movement in the region and the celebrations of the holy month of Ramadhan. Many Christians are suffering in the hands of the local chiefs who oversee the fair distribution of [the] government’s relief food during this pandemic that has led to the closure of schools and churches. In my congregation alone, I have 12 families that have been affected. They are not allowed to go and queue at the camp for the relief food because they are Christians and come from other parts of the country,” lamented John.
John has served in Mandera for 23 years and is shocked that the Muslim community would discriminate against Christians during this difficult economic time of lockdown even after serving them for so long.
“I am surprised that the local Muslim community that we have helped in educating their children and giving them food and clothes have resolved to pay us with evil. In the past, we have helped pay school fees and buy uniforms for poor Muslim children around us. Look at what they are doing to us now. This is so heartbreaking. We have sacrificed a lot for them, but they have decided to chase away Christians from getting a little help from the government,” he expressed.
Mandera County recorded 17 cases of COVID-19 from people who had traveled from Nairobi in April and some from the neighboring country of Somalia. The government has put Mandera on lockdown, on top of a dusk to dawn curfew to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus.
He shared, “Since the closure of schools in mid-March and restriction of movement in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Mandera, the Christians that teach in private schools owned by Muslims have not been paid. There is no way they can go home because vehicles are not allowed to travel outside Mandera. Many casual laborers are also jobless because of Ramadhan. Those that work in construction and quarry mines have been staying home without food.”
Efforts to raise funds to help the suffering Christians have not been successful because of the hard economic times during this pandemic season.
The pastor said, “We have tried to communicate with some churches to help us raise money to assist our brothers and sisters in Mandera but it is very difficult. Those churches are also supporting their needy families and pastors. So far, we have received 200 dollars from an individual who loves the work we do in Mandera. We bought rice and maize flour for the neediest cases.”
The pastor earnestly requested your prayers and support: “I request that whoever comes to hear about the cry of the Mandera Christians would pray for us and send us help. No matter how small it may be, we shall appreciate. We do not know how long this situation is going to last, but we know the Lord will take us through.”
ICC is stepping alongside John and his church to help end this suffering and persecution. We are sending food and clothing for the 12 families of the church and would love to send more for the rest of the community. If you would like to aid families in Kenya and around the world who are suffering during this pandemic, please consider partnering with us through prayer and giving to ICC’s COVID-19 Crisis Fund.