Sunday, February 17, 2013

An ATS Martyr

On February 7, at 12:30 pm, in the Kenyan city of Garissa, an alumni of the Africa Theological Seminary was shot and killed by two members of the Muslim Extremist group, Al-Shabaab.  Pastor Ahmed Abdiwelli had graduated two years ago from ATS and just last year received one of the 28 motorcycles that were given to pastors who were working in remote areas.  Pastor Abdiwelli was a Somali and a former Muslim.  He had been working as an evangelist in an underground church among the Somali population in the North-Eastern province of Kenya, through Youth With a Mission.  He and another pastor, Ibrahim Makunyi, were in a car when two gunmen approached them and shot them at close range, killing Pastor Abdiwelli immediately, and injuring Pastor Makunyi.

Ahmed Abdiwelli
I learned from ATS staff that Pastor Abdiwelli knew he was in danger and had fled a few times for safety, taking refuge in various cities until it felt safe to return.  This area of Kenya is especially dangerous for Christians.  In 2012, twenty-two Christians were killed and over 100 persons injured in attacks like this one in the area of Garissa. 

Pastor Abdiwelli's body was taken to Nairobi, but no-one from his family wanted to claim it since he had forsaken their faith.  He was buried on Thursday, February 14, on the Youth with a Mission campus in Nairobi.

His voice on this earth has been silenced.  But I am thankful that his voice has not been silenced in the heavenly realm.  We are reminded in Revelation 6: 9-11  that "the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony that they had maintained," will have a voice.  They will cry out, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?"  Then they are each honored by being given a white robe and told to wait a little longer.

I'm reminded of an analogy of the time that we are in, as written by Ken Blue.  He reminds us of World War II, when the allied troops landed on the Normandy Beach successfully (D-Day).  He says,
It was understood by  military experts that this operation secured ultimate victory for the allies.  There would be, however, many more bloody battles fought before the day on which ultimate victory would be realized:  "V-E Day" (Victory in Europe Day).  In God's war with evil, "D-Day" occurred with the death and resurrection of Christ.  Ultimate victory is now assured; yet the fight rages on until "V-E Day," the glorious return of Christ.  Between these times, the Church presses the battle against the evil which remains in the world.  Blood is still shed in these battles, and some of the blood will be ours, but we are assured that the ultimate victory of the past will be fully realized in the future.  
Additionally, though this is a time of battle, it is also a time of mercy - a chance in-between the first coming of Christ and the second coming of Christ where people have a chance to receive the gift of salvation.  My prayers are also for those associated with Al-Shabaab.  Thank God for both the assurance of victory, as well as the opportunity for mercy.

Pastor Abdiwelli is survived by his wife, Hellen, and three young sons.  Please pray for this family.  And please continue to pray for the struggle with Al Shabaab that continues in Kenya.  Unconfirmed reports on February 15 announced the killing of a Kenyan soldier by this group and a threat to kill more hostages that have been taken.

ATS will be taking an offering for this family at the up-coming chapel service on Wednesday and will also find a way to memorialize him on campus. Please pray for the other pastors, both current students and alumni, as this is a stark reminder of the dangers that some are facing as they carry the gospel forward.