Kenya: Churches Mourn Massacre Victims on Easter Sunday

April 6, 2015 by Janelle P

From Christian Post & Additional Sources

Kenyan Christian leaders mourned on Easter Sunday for the 148 people, mostly Christian students, slaughtered last week at Garissa University College. Prayers were also offered for the families and friends of the young victims.

“We join the sufferings of the relatives and the victims with the sufferings of Jesus,” said Bishop Joseph Alessandro of Our Lady of Consolation Church in Garissa. “The victims will rise again with Christ.”

He said some of those who died in Thursday’s attack would have been at the service, and he read condolence messages from around the world.

The security response left many Christians in Garissa fearful to venture to church over the weekend, even on Easter Sunday. The Christian Science Monitor reported Sunday that worshipers were scarce in one Anglican church in Garissa. “The early morning service at St. Peter’s Anglican Church usually attracts 60 to 70 people. Only 14 attended today. A more popular 9 a.m. service was better attended: about 75 came, compared to the usual 200 or so.”

Both Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion respectively, mentioned the slaughtered Christians in their Easter messages.

The terror attack on Thursday was carried out by four terrorists, who were all killed by security forces 10 hours after the attack began. The militants reportedly separated Christian students from Muslim ones, before killing the Christians.

Al-Shabaab said that the slaughter was retribution for Kenya sending troops to battle its forces in Somalia, and warned in a statement on Saturday that more attacks may follow.

“No amount of precaution or safety measures will be able to guarantee your safety, thwart another attack or prevent another bloodbath from occurring in your cities,” the group said.

Open Doors noted two months ago that the lack of security in northeastern Kenya and the threat from al-Shabaab has plunged the area into crisis. Recent targeting of Christians has adversely affected Christians in the area. St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Mandera closed in December 2014 after the congregation lost 11 members in two al-Shabaab attacks. Mandera is aprroximately 400 miles from Garissa.

Also reflecting the increased violence against Christians, Kenya jumped from No. 43 to No. 19 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of countries where persecution of Christians is the greatest. This increase was the most of any of the 50 countries.

Open Doors supports Christians in northeastern Kenya with distribution of Bibles, theological leadership training courses, discipleship training, family ministry seminars, cross-cultural seminars and socio-economic projects.

Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.

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