Not your average day in the pastorate; the pastor of the burned church speaks

This past Sunday, Stephen Mburu, the 43 year old pastor of the church that was burned down – with 35 people inside – told his story in our church.

[What I am posting here is mostly taken from the March 1 article in the Nation newspaper– (sorry, I can’t find the link, but it was reposted on I’ve rearranged it a bit and mixed in a couple of quotes from’s 29 Feb article.]

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“Violence broke out on the evening of December 30, just after the presidential result was announced,” he recalled. “On that evening, Kimuri, a neighbouring village, was attacked, forcing the residents to flee to Kiambaa.”

The fleeing Kimuri villagers were offered refuge at the church where Pastor Mburu ministered before the violence broke out. “We thought the church was the safest place for them to be. Normally, a church or any other religious building is a place of sanctuary. “We did not imagine that somebody would attack people who had sought refuge in a place of worship since such a thing had never happened before in our country.”

Fearing that violence would break out, the Kiambaa elders advised women and children to pack their belongings and congregate at the church alongside Kimuri villagers.

Despite the anxiety and tension, Pastor Mburu attended an overnight service at a neighbouring church to welcome the New Year. “Everyone was worried about the unfolding situation,” he said. “I knew there was going to be trouble, but I did not imagine it would be so catastrophic. Since there was little I could do about it, I went to pray for peace and the unity of our nation.”

[When he heard a huge mob was menacing the refugees at his church, he raced back to help them.]

. . . “Just as they started attacking, Continue reading

African values and violence

On the Msfara blog, Pastor Oscar Muriu (Leadership; Urbaba speech) of Nairobi Chapel describes the inspiring healing services in Eldoret. Please read the whole post (here). For the moment, I want to draw attention to one particular paragraph for my fellow Westerners.

Bishop Tuimising, a Kalenjin Pastor with high credibility, followed and named the sins of his people. The Kalenjin had certain rules that governed how they shed blood. It was taboo to kill children and women. It was taboo to kill someone if they took shelter in a house, climbed a tree or lay down clinging onto the grass (sigh of total submission), but in these skirmishes they killed indiscriminately – innocent women and children, and torched houses with people still inside. He said that even under their own laws they stood cursed, and in need of repentance.

The point has been made elsewhere, but it bears repeating here. The post-election violence that occurred in Kenya was a breakdown of traditional African values, even in cultures that used to prize warfare. Gangs took over.

Note also how the church leaders engage the African cultural traditions. These leaders are true African elders.

Violence, cleansing; healing and hope in an African worldview

Last week I read a brief article in the print edition of the Nation (can’t find it on-line) that showed how Nandi elders in Western Kenya were calling for all youths who were involved in violent acts to come for purification. The consequences of not making this right could mean calamitous events for the community.

wink-the-powers-that-be.jpgOne of the many things I like about most African worldviews is their understanding of the holistic interconnectedness of the world. Whenever violence occurs, something deeply troubling disturbs the cosmic economy and needs to be made right. Violence seeks to replace the world as God intended it to be with chaos. I think Walter Wink (despite his liberal views of Jesus’ death) gets this right in his book, The Powers that Be. 

The church here is taking concrete action to address this spiritual reality.

Msafara Wheels of Hope is a church initiative that will act as a catalyst to lead the country into spiritual cleansing and bringing hope to Kenyans. A secretariat of eight pastors are coordinating logistics, mobilizing resources and team building to travel to Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret, and Kisumu.

These five (5) major urban areas were where election violence initially erupted after being targeted by spiritual forces of darkness. [Background: A “witch doctor” from Tanzania carried a python around to each of these cities and spiritually claimed them for his political clients.] With a focus on restoration, reconciliation and prayer, Msafara hopes to enable five hundred (500) pastors in each area to lead their people in healing. In each area Msafara will conduct pastors’ workshops in reconciliation while others will distribute humanitarian aid and provide counsel to traumatized internally displaced people.

Finally, there will be a cleansing, healing, prayer and jubilee service for each area. Msafara will be actively involved in spreading redemptive stories of hope through the media. It will also help resettle displaced people. In the same spirit of Ezra and Nehemiah, Msafara calls Kenyans to unite in the spirit of hope for the future.

The Plan [From their brochure]: From 7th to 17th March, the “Msafara Caravan” of 100 national pastors, and 200 local pastors in each city will gather in 5 main cities in Kenya to wage war against the demonic. Beginning in Mombasa, the “Msafara” will make it’s way to Nairobi, and then move onto Nakuru and Eldoret, and finally end up in Kisumu. A special team of 200 “Wasafiri” will also to accompany the pastors. The wasafiri’s task is to bring comfort to the internally displaced people, to give out humanitarian aid, and to pray, cry, laugh and counsel with the hurting. A special team of prayer intercessors is also being mobilized nationwide to accompany the “Msafara” with prayer.