I just received an update from Edward Simiyu, the amazing Kenyan pastor of the City Harvest church who Caitlin Kelley and I met in Uganda last May. Edward and his church's response to the recent post-election violence in Kenya has been a very strong reminder to me of what it means to serve the Prince of Peace. I can't do what he's doing, but I want to support him every step of the way because what he's doing sounds a lot like what Jesus calls his disciples to do. Follow the links (added by me) for more news and some jarring photos. To see what he's talking about on a map, look here or here. He refers in his letter to Aaron and Kaarli, two young Americans working in Kenya for Youth For Christ (I think). They were also at the Amahoro Africa conference, and were also impressive and inspiring people. Please keep all of these people in your prayers.
Here's Edward's letter:
Dear Praying friend,
This update comes to you when shocking violence rocked and led to partial destruction of some otherwise peaceful towns of Nakuru and Naivasha. Cynthia (one of our staff) went on official duty to minister to the displaced in Burnt Forest and together with a team of 20 from Nairobi Chapel team conducted the first ever Sunday service for the displaced yesterday.
They are now stuck in the area due to the roadblocks that have seen the death of a Catholic priest and close to 20 others forcefully removed from Public transport vehicles and killed. Last night was difficult for them as raiders attempted to raid and kill the displaced close to the police station where the team is putting up. The police thankfully repulsed the raiders.
It is now official that the road are unsafe without police escort and the situation has worsened since Friday last week...worse than when the caravan of hope went out... The team is trying to get to Eldoret before they can be escorted back to Nairobi, ironically via Burnt Forest again. The police in Eldoret are reportedly overwhelmed by violence further northwest near Turbo towards Webuye (The home of our Webuye Pastors Expositors Conference). Over 20 or so roadblocks have been erected for ethnic cleasning...
Peace gathering in Kibera
On Saturday, January 19th, I held a breakfast meeting with 22 leaders in Kibera, Laini Saba that is also the home of Kibera Transformation and Development Project (a ministry of City Harvest church). The agenda was "How to Restore Peace" by critically examining the impact of (past) conflicts. Some of the worst violence continues to be experienced in Kibera especially around Fort Jesus. It is around this area that the impressive Africa Inland Church was razed by arsonists. Aaron and Kaarli graciously availed themselves to share experiences of what they have seen in Africa over the two years they have been on the continent.
The two hour deliberations saw the leaders make interesting proposals: that we meet again in about two weeks time and hold similar conversations in the hotspots and have as many of the inciters of violence attend. Thankfully our young civic leader has contact with a number of inciters and promised to not only host the meeting but also invite the inciters of violence. Our mediation plan will include engaging warring parties to carry out joint reconstruction of homes etc as a way of rebuilding peace and trust.
Please pray that we shall see calm return to Kibera through these efforts. Pray also that the on going mediation talks led by Koffi Annan will yield lasting peace and reconciliation. One major concern that I have is that the violence, if it continues (and if it hasn't already) may head into an irreversible gear; that of personal/tribal grudge and revenge militias which the two leaders may be unable to contain regardless of who is or becomes the legitimate president. It will be remembered that many conflicts on the continent started as small feuds that then escalated into decades of bloody civil strife by not being contained early enough. Pray also for Aaron and Kaarli. They have so far put a neutral face to my efforts by among others taking peoples' attention from asking questions as to whom I am and my tribal affiliation which is now a very sensitive issue.
After our return from the clash torn North Rift areas two weeks ago, our report reached churches in the City with positive responses emerging. Nairobi Chapel has sent two trucks this morning to the region with humanitarian assistance. They also gladly received our consignment of foodstuffs to deliver to those affected. We are sensitizing as many churches with the hope that they will do the same. Indeed many are already involved in some parts of Nairobi.
Asante for standing in prayer with us.
Edward M. Simiyu
Team Leader/Senior Pastor
City Harvest Ministries
P.o. Box 7276 Nairobi 00300