By BosNewsLife Africa Service
NAIROBI, KENYA (BosNewsLife)– Evangelical Christians in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa faced a worship service Sunday, February 9, without a devoted church leader who was killed while guarding his congregation’s building.
Lawrence Kazungu Kadenge, 59, assistant pastor at the Glory of God Ministries Church, died last Sunday, February 2, at about 2 a.m. local time, Christians said. Witnesses reported seeing two men fleeing the area.
No more details as to how he was killed were provided.
“It is very hard for me because we worked very closely together,” said Senior Pastor Andrew Msumbi Kioko in a statement distributed by the World Watch Monitor agency of Christian advocacy group Open Doors.
“His family has been hit very hard. All of us,the family and congregants, need prayers as we grieve his loss—we need God’s comfort. Please pray for us,” he reportedly said.
WIFE, CHILDREN BEHIND
The pastor laves behind a wife, Lydia, and 13 children. While the motives were not immediately clear, Christians linked the killing to the recent Mombasa riots.
The situation in what his Kenya’s second largest city remains tense after riots last weekend, in which one person died and many were injured.
Police had stormed the controversial Masjid Mussa mosque in the Majengo area of the city saying they had a tip-off youths were being trained there for militant attacks.
On Friday, February 7, Kenya’s president said he would not allow places of worship to be used to “radicalise” young people, after a police raid on a mosque in Mombasa that triggered renewed clashes with Muslim protesters.
“Under no circumstance will we allow places of worship, like I said, be it a Hindu temple, a Muslim mosque, be it a Christian church, to be used as a place to radicalise and to threaten the lives of Kenyans,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta.
MANY YOUTH DETAINED
Earlier, angry youths reportedly barricaded roads and stoned vehicles. Police detained 125 youths, who were to be kept in custody until at least Friday, February 7, to allow police to complete investigations, news reports said.
The government says it is considering closing the Masjid Mussa and Sakina mosques, who they have linked to the Islamic militant group al-Shabab.
While the group has been active in especially neighboring Somalia, it also carried out attacks in Kenya.
The African nation is still reeling from an attack by Somali Islamists on a Nairobi shopping mall that killed at least 67 people in September.
Last year, the United Nations approved a troop surge in neighboring Somalia to help the African Union’s goal of defeating al-Shabab in East Africa, said Erastus Mwencha, the AU’s deputy chairman, at the time.
CHRISTIANS’ WIDER CONCERNS
Recent violence in Mombasa has underscored concerns among Christians about wider violence against churches.
In October, Muslim mobs torched a Salvation Army church in riots that killed four people and injured at least seven others.
The attack came came shortly after gunmen shot and killed Sheikh Ibrahim Amor, a popular Muslim cleric, and three of his associates while they traveled home after delivering sermons at the controversial Musa Mosque, officials said.
It was not immediately clear at the time who killed him, but rights activists accuse Kenyan security forces of targeting and killing alleged Islamist radicals and terrorist suspects, adding to tensions between the Muslim and Christian communities.
(With additional reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
Please help BosNewsLife to be the voice of the voiceless. Click here for a subscription.
Follow BosNewsLife via Twitter