Missionary Update: The Tates in Kenya [May 2015]

The Tate Family has served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is indigenous church planting.

May 8, 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last month I mentioned a tragic event that occurred in Kenya, namely, the attack by the Muslim terrorist group Al Shabaab (based in Somalia) against an innocent school in the town of Garissa.  Gunmen stole in at night while the students slept and murdered nearly 150 people.  The carnage and the terror it caused was heard in news reports around the world.  In my newsletter I mentioned that this terrorist event didn’t effect us too much because it was in a different part of the country from which we live.  It turns out that I was wrong in that assessment.  That event actually has effected the whole country in ways similar to the ways the whole United States of America was effected by the September 11 attack on the World Trade Centers.  I’m sure it will be easy to think back 14 years and remember the ways that attack impacted our own country.  Then you will be able to understand how the attack in Garissa effected Kenya.

KenyaMapFirst, do you remember the initial fear that the 9/11 attack caused?  I remember watching the TV with shock and fear and thinking “how could this happen”?  At the time I was working at the Wright/Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio and shortly after the attacks I watched out the window of my office and saw the command center plane took off and fly away.  Do you know the command center plane?  It’s the one that can launch all our nuclear weapons and control total annihilation all from the air.  I couldn’t help thinking “we’re all going to die”.  Well, similar reactions occurred here in Kenya after the Garissa attack.  I just talked with a young man this week who told me that his entire school refused to sleep in the dorm after the attack because they were afraid of being sitting ducks in their rooms.  They all slept outside or hid in places where they thought would be safer.  People everywhere were concerned that subsequent attacks would take place and that they were all at risk.

Second, do you remember the anger that followed up the initial fear after 9/11?  There was anger toward Muslims in general.  There was outrage that innocent people were killed and that our way of life was altered.  We went to war, we heightened security at the airports and we spew out vitriol against anyone we thought was an enemy.  The same occurred here in Kenya after the Garissa attack.  The government looked to close the border between Kenya and Somalia.  Then there were loud calls to move the IDP camp (Internationally Displaced People) where thousands of displaced Somalis live.  Kenyans didn’t want that camp to be located in Kenya anymore and demanded that the United Nations move it to another country.  Security was beefed up as well, at schools, shopping centers and government offices.  Most Kenyans were angry that so many students had been killed.  They felt violated.

Third, do you remember the questions that resulted from the 9/11 attacks?  People started asking questions like, “Why did this happen to us?”, “Where is God in all this?”, and “How could people be so evil?”.  For a long time people were more interested in spiritual things.  Churches had more people in them.  More people prayed.  People thought more about their eternal destinations.  The questions that resulted here in Kenya after the Garissa attack were a little different however.  I had people ask me questions like, “What should we do if a terrorist holds a gun to my head”, “Should I lie about being a Christian?” and “Should I pretend to be a Muslim to protect my family?”.  One person in one of our groups asked me if it was OK to memorize a few passages from the Koran so that if he were threatened by a terrorist he could quote them, pretend to be a Muslim and live to see another day.  Because of questions like these I have been addressing these issues in my teaching to the groups.  You can look up what the New Testament says about these things on your own, but, in short what I’ve been trying to teach them is that the cost of following Jesus can be high and that they need to count the cost.  I’ve tried to teach them that if they put their hands to the plow they should not look back.  I’ve shared with them that if they gain the whole world and lose their own souls they have gained nothing and lost everything.   I’ve shown them where Jesus says that if we seek to save our lives we will lose them and if we lose our lives for his sake we gain eternal life.  They’ve seen also that Jesus says if we love father or mother or children or nations more than him then we are not worthy to be his followers.  These are all hard sayings indeed but they apply just as much to Christians in Kenya in the 21st century as they did to the first century followers that Jesus was talking to.

How would you react if you were put in the same situation?  9/11 was worse by far that the attacks in Garissa in Kenya.  But it didn’t take long for those effects to fade away in our country.  I wonder how long it will be before people stop thinking much about it here too.  I pray that we Christians here in Kenya and you brothers and sisters in the States as well would be totally devoted and committed to following our Lord Jesus Christ with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength.  And even with our lives.

Until next month, beloved.
May God’s peace and joy be with you.

For the glory of God in East Africa,
Roger & Julie Tate (and Emily, Amy, Josiah & Chloe)

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