Kenya (MNN) — Kenya is generally considered a stable country, but their neighbors to the north and east? Not so much.
Tribal fighting plagues southern Ethiopia, and Somalia has to deal with a Muslim terrorist group. These conflicts can leak into Kenya.
Earlier this month, Crossroads Prison Ministries sent a team to reach a prison in northern Kenya with the Gospel. Crossroads’ Kenya country director Jefferson Gathu was with the team of six other people.
They had already visited two prisons and were headed to the third and final prison. On the way, the Crossroads team was attacked.
Gathu reports, “We found ourselves engulfed by the people from Somalia on the right, and actually when we proceeded, we had the fighting actually coming now from southern Ethiopia. It was terrible. I remember my team and [me], we were in such a big problem.”
The team had a security escort and their guards overpowered the attackers — likely terrorist militants from Somalia. They made it to the prison shaken but unscathed.
“There were casualties because people were fighting each other. We may not know the cause of the fighting because…there is a lot of insecurity in the country of Somalia and there is a lot of insecurity actually in southern Ethiopia…. We were surrounded by the tribal men who actually wanted to fight us. But, as I’ve said, God was on our side because we had the military with us and they helped us.
“[The guards] were telling us that if we had gone without an escort of security officers, we would not be talking because it was terrible. We are told that the previous night, [the terrorists] had killed about three people.”
According to Gathu, that area in northern Kenya is too dangerous to travel without an escort since fighting and attacks are common.
“If you are new in that area, you are not supposed to go. You can’t go to northern Kenya without security. Sometimes you can go during the day but from 3 pm in the evening, you can’t go alone. This is always common and the security is not good in that area.”
This means the visitors to these prisons in northern Kenya are few and far between. It’s even dangerous for the people who work in the prisons.
“I remember one of the prison officers who was in charge showed us where the bullets would always hit…. They hit the walls and actually, he shared with us how one of the kitchen staff was injured because one of the stray bullets caught up with him.”
Gathu shares, “It was amazing when they received us. They told us they are lucky to have us because nobody wants to go to those prisons because they fear for their life. But we told them that God had sent us and we went and shared with them.”
In total, the team members with Crossroads told at least 5,000 inmates about Jesus Christ and over 100 of them embraced Him as their Savior.
Crossroads offers biblical courses for inmates to go through with Christian mentors outside the prison. Mentors communicate with the students through mail and grade their lessons. On this trip, 30 students enrolled in Crossroads’ biblical studies.
They are still trying to work out the details to stay connected with the students and new believers in these northern Kenyan prisons. But currently, Crossroads Kenya is looking at a system that would get mailed lessons to the inmates once a month.
As the Crossroads’ team praises God for keeping them safe, Gathu says their ministry could use encouragement from the global Body of Christ going forward.
“We need prayers because…nobody would like to risk his life going there. But our team, Crossroads Kenya, we have given ourselves out to go and reach those people. As the Bible says, if you don’t do it, who can go? We need to remember them as we ourselves are one of them.”
Also, Gathu adds, “We need to raise funds so that we can have the parcels and Crossroads materials reaching them at the time they are needed every month.”
They also need funding for a reliable vehicle to use for future trips, since the team cannot count on vehicles from their security escorts.
If you would like to donate to Crossroads Prison Ministries, click here!
Finally, please pray for the inmates in northern Kenya. “We need to realize that those people are in need, not only that we go taking the Word of God to them. They are in need of food, they are in need of clothing…they don’t have even mattresses to sleep on. They sleep on the ground.”
Pray for the new believers to grow in discipleship and in their relationship with the Lord. Please pray also for those inmates who heard the Gospel, but did not yet accept Jesus. Ask God to soften their hearts over time and that the seed planted would eventually grow into a newfound faith in Christ.
Interesting in becoming a mentor with Crossroads in your area? Learn more about their mentorship program here!
(Header photo courtesy of Crossroads Prison Ministries)