Monday, September 23, 2013

Mambo Sawa Sawa

I was going to update you on my work this week and share with you what I have found since my return, but there are two news stories that I think need our attention and our prayers, so I will update you on the work next week.

People fleeing the mall.  Picture taken from BBC website.
The first news story is terrorist attack that took place starting on Saturday at noon in Nairobi.  At the time that I am writing this, the death count stands at 68 with 175 people injured.  The siege is still ongoing however, with an unknown number of hostages inside, so we don't know what the final count of persons injured/killed will be.  My understanding is that this morning (Monday morning) there has been heavy gunfire heard. It is believed that there are between 10-15 male and female militants still inside.  The Somali Militant group, Al-Shabab, has claimed responsibility for this attack, which took place at noon at an upscale mall, where many expats and middle income Kenyans shop and spend their Saturdays.  The mall was hosting a special children's day event when the attack began. Those killed are men, women, and children, from North America, Europe, Asia, Ghana, and of course Kenya.  President Uhuru's nephew and his nephew's fiance are among the dead. 

Kenyan soldiers also injured.  Picture from BBC website.
Al-Shabab, which is linked with Al-Qaeda,  had apparently threatened that they would do this in response to the Kenyan military operations in Somalia.  This mall was a prime target because of the international presence.  If you recall in February I shared about the killing of one of the seminary students by the same group (click here for link).  This is a very sad event and scary for so many people.  Please pray that this does not fuel greater tensions between Muslims and Christians in Kenya; that the response by the government is wise and discerning; and that terrorism does not become an ever present danger and concern on the streets of Nairobi and other cities in Kenya.

The second story has to do with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.  If you have been reading our blog for some time, you have heard us talk about it.  It is this court that tried Charles Taylor, from Liberia, and found him guilty not too long ago.  It is this court that took former president Laurent Gbagbo from Cote d'Ivoire when he refused to step down and where he now awaits trial.  And now the recently elected president and vice-president of Kenya are to be tried by the ICC for atrocities during the 2007 Kenyan presidential election.  The vice-president's trial has already begun.  There has been a growing outcry among Africans that the ICC or the search for international justice is being politicized, and that African leaders specifically are targeted while atrocities in other areas are ignored.  It has now come to the point that on October 13, the African Union will meet in Addis Ababa to discuss a mass withdrawal from the ICC in protest.
Kenyan Vice-President William Ruto at the ICC trail.  Photo from BBC.

While the Kenyans I speak with claim that they don't know the truth about the innocence or guilt of their president or vice-president in this matter, there is a principle at stake:  a principle of justice and equity. 

This morning at church, we sang a song in Swahili called "Mambo Sawa Sawa" which says that things are already better when the Lord is on the throne.  I like that phrasing - "things are already better."  When I hear  a song like that, sung with confidence and joy by Kenyans who are facing or who have faced so much, it gives the words a whole new meaning.  Please pray with us that those making key decisions will keep the Lord on the throne.  Please pray with us that things will get better - for the hostages, the families in mourning, for national justice and international justice, and even for the members of the Al-Shabab Militant group, who also need to know the Lord.

Thanks to so many of you who have sent me messages since Saturday letting me know that you are praying and wondering about my safety.  I am very safe, being about 250 miles northwest of Nairobi.  I received three text messages from the US Embassy on Saturday alerting me to the danger, so there is good communication.  I am not concerned for myself, but for my brothers and sisters in Nairobi.  Thank you for continuing to pray.