Betrayed pastor forgives his enemies

By June 2, 2008

Kenya (MNN) — This month, about 100,000 Kenyans displaced by post-election
violence have returned home, the AP reports.
Africa Inland Mission has established a Kenya Crisis Fund to help
rebuild churches and pastors’ homes and provide for other material needs, in
partnership with the Africa
Inland Church.

Pastor Steve Munyambu, youth minister at the Africa Inland
Church, has moved back to the Kibera
slums of Nairobi. There, people he knew torched his
previous home just minutes after the announcement of the disputed election
results on December 27. 

“We knew each other by name. These were young people I had worked with in rehab programs. These were
young people I had worked with in tutorial classes. These were young people I
had mentored for a long time,” he said. “I didn’t see it coming, so I was hurt.”

The neighbors helped him put out the fire resulting from the
first petrol bomb, but three more petrol bombs followed, Munyambu said. “After
the fourth one, we had to say, ‘Lord, You’ve seen our struggle. There is nothing
more we can do.’”

Although he has struggled with emotions of bitterness and
revenge, Munyambu is committed to forgiving the arsonists. He has seen them and talked to them many
times since he volunteered for the Red Cross and they came to his food
distribution line. 

“God has His own way of programming,” he says. “Instead of
them going to the different line, God brought them to my line. Again and again,
we saw each other—face to face.”

Pastor Munyambu is not running away from the people who hurt
him. He is deliberately moving back to
the same neighborhood. 

“How can we forgive these people if we don’t see them face
to face?” he asks. “For me, it’s easy to say I’ve forgiven you, because I don’t
see you. But immediately, when I see you, something grips within my
spirit—bitterness, rage and revenge come back.”

Three weeks after his house was burned, Pastor Munyambu preached at a service attended by people from different tribes. At the end of the service, he offered to wash their feet – no matter what tribe they were from.   

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