Evangelizing in Islam-land

Elove Poetry By Elove Poetry, 10th Jul 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3fyqnjmv/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

In the midst of agaal hori (manyattas) and Arab-style architecture in El Wak town in Mandera Central County in the Kenya’s North Eastern province is two churches, one Catholic and the other Anglican. A minaret, and two telecommunication masts, stands sentinel over the Catholic Church along the rugged El Wak – Marsabit road.

God and Allah

The church has been around for some time not because of a steadfast Christian community but the unrelenting faith of those who started it.
North Eastern province is a Somali community thus it goes without saying that religion is Islam. However, Italian missionaries in their evangelization endeavours ended up here bringing with them Christian followers from down-Kenya (as other parts of the country are referred to here). That’s how the church came to be.
As where missionaries tread they take civilization, formal education and health care services, this charge saw an influx of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other government agencies into the town. The people here were impoverished, illiterate and lacking health care and sanitation facilities and they welcomed them; thus a Christian community was established in an adulterated Islamic community.

Social and health workers, teachers and NGO workers from down-Kenya were posted or transferred to El Wak. This augmented the population of Christians from the paltry number of police officers who were stationed there and slowly a Christian community grew.
Nonetheless, there is not a single soul of the natives converted to Christianity as apostasy is a tag they can’t bear. They enjoy what the Christians brought, and have embraced them, but subscribing to their God is unheard of though some of them work at the church as security.
Life for the missionaries turned from bad to worse in 2010 in the wake of rampant terrorism – kidnappings, assassinations, suicide bombings and hostage taking – in the country. The missionaries lived in fear instilled by the terrorists, aggravated when two of them were kidnapped and held hostage by Al Shabaab militia who demanded millions of dollars for their release.
The Italian government paid the ransom but on condition that they withdraw from Kenya. Well, they did, but are now based in Nairobi for they refused to go back to Italy.
At the same time, the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) moved in for the operation dubbed Operation Linda Mpaka to create a buffer zone against the terrorists who were planning to base themselves in El Wak.
Since then the church in El Wak has grown tremendously as more state actors and NGOs from down-Kenya, of whom majority are Christians, are moving in due to improved security after the success of Operation Linda Mpaka and Operation Linda Nchi that led to the incursion into Somalia to oust the militia from their stronghold. Although they are not permanent residents, and are here for a season and reason, they decided to extend the church to accommodate the constantly growing number albeit seasonally.
Father Pedro, a Puerto Rican former parochial priest and missionary, visits once in a month to administer confession and Eucharist. As for Sunday service, Fr. Pedro sends an email to one of the members who have internet access with the sermon he would have delivered were he there in person. The email is read to the congregation and then they engage in a kind of discussion thingy sharing what they have learnt from the readings and Fr. Pedro’s sermon.
The services without priest follow the laid down Catholic Church traditions, and the offertory collected is sent to the diocese office in Garissa County.
Even though the missionaries’ intend to have converts to Christianity may not have been achieved, the missionary work – teaching, social work, health care, humanitarian relief and charity – is more than endearing to the residents of El Wak.


Evangelism, Muslim Community

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author avatar Trillionaire
12th Jul 2013 (#)

Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar Elove Poetry
13th Jul 2013 (#)

Welcome, read more please.

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