One of greatest things I get to do as a part of my job as a Regional Manager at ICC is assisting members of the suffering church across the world. Every day, I am reminded of how blessed I am to be in a position where I can both raise awareness on Christian persecution and step into incidents of persecution and assist the Christians that are actually being persecuted. In July, I was able to do just that with a church and its pastor in Garissa, Kenya.
In November 2011, the East Africa Pentecostal Church (EAPC) was attacked by Muslims extremists likely connected to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. During a Sunday evening service, a grenade was tossed into a guardhouse attached to the church, killing the guard and an 8 year-old girl attending the service. The explosion also injured several others and damaged both the church and the guardhouse.
The reason EAPC was targeted was likely the evangelical work its pastor did with the local Somali Muslim population. According to al-Shabaab’s interpretation of Sharia law, converting from Islam to Christianity is a crime punishable by death. Christians caught by al-Shabaab evangelizing to Muslims are usually executed.
The woes of the suffering church in Garissa didn’t end with the 2011 grenade attack. On February 7, 2013, Pastor Abdi Welli and Pastor Ibrahim Makunyi, the pastor of EAPC, were gunned down in a local market in Garissa. Unfortunately, Pastor Welli, who was shot several times, died on the scene and Pastor Makunyi was rushed to a hospital in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, over 200 miles away.
Even though Pastor Makunyi was severely injured and lost a lot of blood while being rushed to the hospital, he survived the attack. “Thank God for His miraculous healing,” Pastor Makunyi said later in an interview with ICC.
Several Christian organizations, including ICC, reported on both of these attacks; publishing press releases and raising awareness for the suffering church in Garissa. To my delight, ICC was able to take it a step further and assist the members of the suffering church in Garissa.
In July 2013, ICC successfully repaired the damage EAPC sustained in a grenade attack that happened nearly two years ago. The suffering church had no funds to repair the damage it sustained when it was attacked. “We are very grateful to ICC for restoring the image of [our] church,” an elder at EAPC said. “It had become a laughingstock to the outsiders.”
With funds from its donors, ICC was able to replace the church’s door, rebuild the church’s guardhouse, repair the church’s damaged roof and give both the church and guardhouse a new coat of paint. “On July 7, 2013, we had a special thanksgiving service for the church because of the sacrificial financial support from ICC,” another elder said. “ICC is a good Samaritan to us who has come and bound up our wounds.” The entire church had no words to express their appreciation. According to ICC’s local representative, they could only say, “May God bless ICC as they serve the persecuted church!”
ICC’s support for the suffering church of Garissa didn’t end with the repairs to the church building. ICC also covered the medical bills Pastor Makunyi, EAPC’s pastor, incurred while recovering from the wounds he received after being shot in February.
In a recent interview, Pastor Makunyi discussed his future plans with ICC. “[I] feel my mission in Garissa is not over yet. Our children are very reluctant for me to return to Garissa. But even a normal [auto] accident is sometimes fatal, that doesn’t mean people stop using vehicles.” Pastor Makunyi plans to continue his ministry after he has fully recovered from the injuries he received in February. “May the almighty God bless ICC for coming to my aid. I am also grateful to ICC for repairing my church in Garissa as well,” Pastor Makunyi said as his recent interview with ICC came to an end.
It truly is a blessing to be able to help bind the wounds of the suffering church across the world. Being able to both raise awareness for and assist persecuted Christians, like Pastor Makunyi and the members of EAPC, is what makes my job at ICC special. A special thanks to all of those who donate to ICC regularly, making projects like these possible.