Kenya (MNN) — From December 2007- February 2008, Kenya was engulfed in violence connected to the presidential election results.
When incumbent President Mwai Kibaki (Kikuyu) was declared the winner, the country erupted into a political, economic, tribal, and humanitarian crisis that went on for weeks. Members of the opposition party were made up of the Luo, Luhya and Kalenjin tribes. When their candidate lost the election, they cried “foul” and claimed the election was rigged.
Violence swept from the shantytowns of Nairobi to resort towns along coast, exposing longstanding ethnic resentment. In the end, the death toll hit more than 275, raising fears of further unrest in what was once considered one of Africa’s most stable democracies.
The international community stepped in, investigated, and found enough to warrant a further investigation by the International Criminal Court. In the meantime, the country tried to put things back together. By 2010, post-crisis reforms had come into being along with a new constitution that brought about a coalition government.
These were the first few steps toward reconciliation, but they were surface deep, nowhere near the restoration of the people. David Shibley with Global Advance says their organization was called in to help the church rebuild in 2010. God used them as a catalyst; sometimes it takes someone coming from the outside, speaking into a situation, to be the fresh eyes needed. “God graciously used our first Frontline Shepherds Conference there, five years ago, to bring healing and reconciliation. We saw a marvelous move of God’s Spirit as men who had not talked to each other suddenly were embracing each other, asking for forgiveness.”
Since that time, says Shibley, reconciliation efforts reawakened a sense of belonging to one nation. “The pastoral leaders of that area have been used of God to bring a real healing in that area, and now there is tremendous cooperation among most, if not all, of the evangelical churches of that area.”
Then came the al-Shabaab attack on the Nairobi University campus in Garissa in April. 147 Christian college students were killed. “Since that time, there has been a real galvanizing of the Church in Kenya: kind of a ‘snapping to attention’ that I saw,” explains Shibley. He adds adding that in their most recent Frontline Shepherds Conference (at the end of April), “I believe that that tragedy was a defining moment for the nation, and that Kenya is now coming together in a real response. I saw these pastors (700 of them) recommit to evangelism itself and to the proclamation of the Gospel.”
There are reminders everywhere of what God is doing to heal and restore the Body. During the conference, Shibley met a remarkable 5-year-old boy. His father, Pastor Wycliffe, is a godly local pastor. Pastor Wycliffe has served on the Global Advance executive planning team for all three conferences Global Advance has sponsored in Eldoret.
His son was born just around the time of their first conference in Eldoret five years ago. In appreciation for Global Advance bringing training, tools, and encouragement to the pastoral leaders of his region, Pastor Wycliffe and his wife named their son Global. Notes Shibley, “We are humbled and honored that this precious young man’s name commemorates Global Advance’s ministry in Eldoret.”
It’s things like that that serve as encouraging reminders for the Global Advance team. Shibley observed that it also reflected a commitment to go back to the basics of the Gospel, back to basics of the Great Commission, as well as a willingness to put aside tribal rivalries. Why? “I believe there is an urgency factor, perhaps as never before, for us to redouble our efforts, and to trust God’s Holy Spirit for a true advance of the Gospel in this day. All of this chaos is also creating a great openness for the Gospel.”
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