Kenya (MNN) — Not long ago, Non-Government Organizations saw Kenya as a safe place to establish a beachhead for projects in the surrounding countries.
To some degree, that remains true, as Kenya provides ready access to hotspot areas and has a reliable infrastructure. However, there is rising concern over the recent increase in attacks by Al-Shabaab in northern Kenya.
Who is Al-Shabaab? They’re an extremist group running raids between the border of Kenya and Somalia. Under the evaluation of the Fragile State Index (formerly the Failed State Index), Somalia ranks number two on the list due to the lack of a functioning government.
Terrorists run amok in Kenya
FMI’s Bruce Allen explains the lawlessness and piracy issues neccesitated a response. “There is a multinational peacekeeping force on the ground in Somalia, trying to keep the peace between rival warlords; terrorist groups like Al Shabaab, which is an offshoot of al Qaeda. Kenya is a part of that multinational peacekeeping force.”
The warlords and terror groups running rampant in Somalia want the peacekeepers out, Allen says. “Kenya happens to be a real easy target because they neighbor Somalia, so there’s that proximity so that they can launch attacks and raids across the border into neighboring Kenyan counties.” Al Shabaab’s goal is to motivate Kenya’s government to withdraw peacekeeping forces from Somalia. Kenya wants to stabilize the region.
Is it fixable?
Mix in political, economic, tribal, and military strife, and you’ve got a recipe for trouble. Al Shabaab’s attacks increase at the end of the year, usually marking specific anniversaries for the terror group. Sometimes, it’s merely a statement.
Within the last 10 weeks, there’s been an attack on the Kamuthe Primary School, executions of 11 Christians, and an attack on Camp Simba, a military base in Kenya. The most recent scare was a bomb threat on January 30 at Doctor’s Park in Parklands Nairobi, which forced an evacuation.
If nothing else, the extremist group has succeeded in creating terror, Allen says. “One of the teachers in that recent attack in Garissa, a teacher, Robert Kibutu, who lives right outside the school’s residential area, said that ‘we are so sad, and at the same time scared because we are targeted for being non-local government workers that belong to the Christian faith.'”
This is the atmosphere into which FMI aims its newest vision. At the end of 2019, FMI laid the groundwork for a national leadership team in Kenya. This year, he says, “We’re looking for the church planting partners that we’ll end up supporting in Kenya, to become very aware of Islam and especially radical Islam that is growing there and how to respond appropriately.”
The goal: saturate unreached parts of Kenya with the Gospel. They want to see church planters mature into a network that spreads throughout the Horn of Africa. FMI wants to facilitate, mobilize, and inspire these indigenous church planters to lead congregations to maturity so that eventually, that church plant becomes autonomous.
Finding your part in the story
The hope is that churches take ownership of ministry and outreach in their communityies and reproduce themselves in other communities. However, acknowledges Allen, the challenge of an ongoing insurgency won’t make that easy. “Pray through this situation in Kenya. Pray for the courage and resilience of Christian teachers of the orphan care workers, of the pastors.”
Aside from supporting FMI to resources these partners with Bibles and other study tools, it’s important to understand the context of the Church under fire. Persecution will come, so “Pray wisdom for the pastors to lead their congregations through the tough times of shock and grief,” especially since FMIs ministry is in its fledgling stages in Kenya.
Headline image courtesy of Ingoman, Released into the public domain | Wikimedia Commons