Unrest in Kenya

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Unrest in Kenya

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This update was prepared by John Elliot, our senior pastor for Kenya. He gives details UCG members in Kenya: For a news update check this NYTimes article.
Thank you for your concern for our members in Kenya during the ongoing turmoil there. I won't comment on the various news reports which can be viewed online.
Today's editorial "Comment" in the excellent Daily Nation newspaper begins..."Our beloved country, the Republic of Kenya, is a burnt-out, smouldering ruin. The economy is at a virtual standstill and the armies of destruction are on the march... It is unbelievable foolishness for Kenyans to destroy their economy, their homes and their entire way of life in the name of politics and on behalf of people whose lives of comfort and luxury are going on normally." www.nationmedia.com/dailynation
Kenya is home to 700 UCG brethren who attend Sabbath services throughout the country each week. Tribal clashes, which are uncommon here but not rare, are typically fueled by political maneuvering. A little background to the current situation will help provide context for events of the past week.
In 1963 Kenya gained independence from Britain and its first elected leader was Jomo Kenyatta. Mr. Armstrong visited Mr. Kenyatta as well as his eventual successor, Daniel Arap Moi (picture in photo). Mr. Moi began his presidency well. Soon however, those with power and opportunity sucked the country dry of both its financial resources and the aid coming in to help its needy citizens. In 2001 Mwai Kibaki ran for president on promises of ending corruption and won by a landslide. However, governmental corruption at all levels has continued to increase. While members of Parliament are paid salaries equal to that of the President of the USA, plus huge sums for humanitarian projects for their constituencies, local citizens are left to fend for themselves.
In the run up to last week's presidential election, a flamboyant Raila Odinga from the Luo tribe promised all Kenyans a sharing of the financial resources and an end to corruption. Hopes were raised among the masses for an enhanced standard of living.  But, reported vote tampering returned the incumbent president to power who is from the Kikuyu tribe. Emotions raged between gun wielding police and angry Lou and other tribal peoples. Then ethic retaliations flared up against Kikuyus everywhere. In a country where owning weapons is outlawed, killings are mostly done with crude weapons and fire. The news has been filled with such atrocities.
Phone calls and e-mails between me and some of our leaders in East Africa indicate that all of our brethren have been spared physical loss. However, the tensions and emotional strains are present as they live among a frustrated and sometimes lawless society.  In some cases, church services had to be cancelled for the safety of our members.
Obtaining food in areas that experienced drought has become even more complicated and expensive. Deacon John Otieno from the Luo town of Migori spoke of twelve killed there one day and another four the next. He wrote today, "I found that most of the local members are starving and did not have even anything to buy food, so I did manage to withdraw some funds from the church account in town on Monday when there was little bit calm."  Kisumu, Kenya's third largest city was essentially gutted by looters and will take months to restore. Deaths and violence have crisscrossed the entire nation.
Antonio Ndung'u, our office manager in Nairobi, told me by telephone that he has been in touch with the other deacons and several local leaders every day. All the brethren are okay. The only close call we have heard of was member Josiah living in the Eldoret area who manned a lookout on top of his house to watch for the thousands of attackers, some of whom burned a church with 35 women and children inside. Antonio rallied the church leadership to remind the brethren they serve not to become polarized or involved in political or tribal matters. "This is a matter that we have no control over as Church members and we belong to the future Kingdom of God, not the local government," he said.
Your prayers for peace in the region are appreciated to enable safety for the membership and to permit the work of God in East Africa to continue to flourish. A first-ever meeting with Bible Study Course graduates in Ethiopia is planned for April when Ed Dowd and I visit the region. A stable environment would certainly benefit everyone.

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