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Global Ministries Mourns with Partners in Kenya

September 23, 2013

Global Ministries mourns with global partners in Kenya as events at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya continue to unfold. We are deeply saddened by the attack that has resulted in scores of people being killed, hundreds wounded and an unknown number taken hostage by Islamic gunmen.   Global Ministries has sent expressions of concern and sympathy to partners in Kenya.  Any news that comes in from Kenya will be made available. 

We are deeply grateful that our missionaries and immediate family are safe.  Joel Cooper, our Global Mission Intern, arrived in Nairobi last week.  He is safe and not in danger as reported by the Regional Director of Church World Service with whom he works.   Our missionary Phyllis Byrd is currently in the USA with her daughter, Atieno,  on home assignment.  Her husband remained in Nairobi and was at home safe when the attack occurred.  Their home is within walking distance of the mall.  She reports on other family members and friends and the existing tension as everyone anxiously awaits news of loved ones who are still being held as hostages.

Please continue to lift the people of Kenya in prayer so that this terrible ordeal may be resolved as soon as possible without further loss of lives.

Responses from Kenyan Partners and Missionaries

Dear Family members and Friends,

I wanted to give you more details and respond to your wonderful messages of prayer and concern about Kenya, my family, and I.  Some of you might not be aware that I am in the USA on “home leave” or “home assignment.”  I will be in the USA until June 2014 but my husband was not able to join Atieno and me for the year.  When I heard of what took place in Kenya at the Westgate mall I was very concerned for several reasons.  I told many of you that I live in walking distance to the Westgate mall. It is a mall that I shop in during the week. Atieno and I have a mother daughter date on Saturdays at the Westgate mall.  We have tea, take in a movie, and I do my weekly shopping. The very café the gunmen took over (and I heard killed many of the people as well as staff) the waiters and I jokingly refer to as “my office.”  This is because when I have to preach, I go to the café in Westgate early in the morning just before they open to claim my seat and, with coffee in hand, earplugs to block outside music and pipe in my “sermon writing music,” I work on my sermon. It is a ritual for me to stop by before I go to church and preach the sermon that I have worked on and read it over on Sunday morning, with cup in hand. The staff is so gracious to let me in even before they open to get my “anointing” of caffeine.

Every time the news flashes the faces of the people rushing out of the mall, I find myself looking to see if I can identify the waiters that were my friends, the security guards that we laugh when they say to me “Rev next Sunday you will see me in church. ” With a heavy heart and tears in my eyes I keep asking myself are they ok?

I sent a message through my sister-in-law in Kenya to see how my husband was doing. It was difficult to get a line in or out of Kenya at the time. I shared with many of you that she spoke to him and he was well and at the time of the event he was home.  There was still an uneasy peace deep within me. I was able to speak to Ochilo yesterday and he shared with me the details of what was going on. He told me that one of his relatives was in the mall at the time. Unfortunately, they found his body riddled with bullets

I asked my colleague if he heard about any of the young people or members from the church were at the mall. He was not sure, but Pastor Buri said that in the midst of the sad situation it seems that every sector of society is working together to do whatever it is they can do.

The main television stations have suspended their programming and are 24hrs focusing on Westgate Mall.

Kenyan’s heeded to the call for help from the Red Cross and formed long lines to donate blood at the various points. They had to be turned away because there were more than the Red Cross could handle.  A woman who is a kiosk owner cooked food and tea to give the police officers and journalists in the Westgate area - for no charge over two days; the Indian Temple opened up to be a counseling and media center; countless volunteers received patients in hospitals - Kenyatta, Nairobi, Aga khan, Mp Shah, Guru Nanak, Avenue; Christian and Asian groups are bringing in supplies of water and juice to support those who are donating blood; and the political leaders – ODM and PNU  (the two political parties that  are always in opposition to each other)  are making united statements to the nation.

In the words of the youth Pastor from St. Andrew’s, Pastor Buri, the unity statement is an attempt to alleviate the pain of  the sad stories of death, shattered limbs, destroyed relationships, and injured security officers....

The message of peace and the value of human life need to be spoken more frequently, way more loudly and without ceasing - punctuated whispers are not enough.”

Thank you for your love that felt like arms wrapped around me every time I hear from you. Thank you for your prayers for Kenya.

Phyllis Byrd
Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC)

Greetings and thanks. It is words of courage and support like yours that have kept us going and we come to terms with the realities of the westgate mall attacks because all of us are affected directly or indirectly. we are yet to know who how many  lost lives. Thanks for your words of comfort and pray with us.
Esther Mombo
Academic Dean
St. John University
Limuru, Kenya

Many thanks for the words of comfort and sympathy. This has been very horrifying to all of us in Kenya but we believe that God will bring the perpetrators to book. Continue praying for the situation and especially today so that the operation may come to an end successfully.
Warm regards
Mrs. Wanjiku Macharia - Sekalegga
Finance Manager
National Council of Churches of Kenya

We are grateful to Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ for remembering us in Kenya at this time when we feel afflicted in every way but nonetheless believe that we cannot be crashed. For us in PROCMURA, we feel professionally wounded as well since one aspect of our work has always been the prevention of what happened. The situation rather than discouraging us, it strengthens our resolve to work harder. Please let all your colleagues know that we appreciate your message of sympathy.
Johnson Mbillah
General Adviser
Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA)

To read a special response from the All African Conference of Churches, click here.

Receive Christian greetings.

Thank you for your encouragement and prayer during the trying times of the Westgate Attack.  Everything is now under control and the forensic audit is taking place.  We are yet to come to terms with the realities of those who have lost their lives or injured. 

May God bless you.

Yours sincerely,
Rev. Festus K. Gitonga

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