Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Kenyan Presidential Elections - "Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer."

I began to write last Thursday night about the day's exciting news out of Kenya. It was the night of the Kenyan presidential elections. I had written the title "Thank God for Peaceful Elections."

The first reports out of Kenya extolled the glories of Kenya's orderly multi-party election. It was a great day for the young democracy (since 1963). Election day was peaceful. Kenyans from all tribes patiently stood in line for hours to vote.

Kenya is the hope of the continent. It's Africa's strongest economy and most orderly country. Kenya was about to become the example for the rest of the continent. This was how it could be done in Africa as Kenya maintained its ethnic identity, tribal relationships, and yet came together as a country for the benefit of each other.

I didn't publish that post because I thought to myself, "Maybe I should wait till morning when the results will be clearer and the stability of the country would be sure.

Unfortunately, I woke up to bad news from Kenya. It was such a disappointment as I began to think about all of the Kenyans whom I met and have grown to love and respect. I was concerned for them and the church.

The election was razor thin close. The results were delayed.

I was hoping to hear something Saturday morning about the results. They didn't come.

Charges of election fraud, rigging the ballot box, and riotous threats abounded in the news. Homes began to burn, rumors of murderous mobs came forth. Then the news on the Internet multiplied with stories of unrest. The death toll steadily began to rise.

Immediately, I sent off an e-mail to my friends in Kenya, David Chuchu, John Halahke, Bishop Obare, Dennis Meeker, and others. I prayed for their safety. I hoped their families were not touched by the trouble.

Mobs roamed the poorest areas of Kenya. Kibera slums, a place where Friends of Mercy has its roots, suffered terribly with homes and churches burned out. People were dead.

Kisumu was hit hard. Pastor David Chuchu lives in Kisumu. Last I heard, he and his family are safe.

I spoke this afternoon with Pastor Dennis and Deaconess Lorna Meeker. I was very concerned about them because their ministries are among the people of the Kibera slums. You can see our pictures in Kibera and read some of their story in another post at this blog.

Some of the rioting took place in the immediate area of Pastor Meeker's church, Springs of Life Lutheran Church. Pastor and Lorna are living at the ELCK Guest House. This is a blessing, since the Guest House is about 30 minutes from Kibera.

They are safe. Pastor cancelled services, Sunday school, and other classes at the church over the weekend. He, Lorna, and his congregation are doing such great work. In short nine months since he was installed in Kenya, he has baptized over 40 people already. His confirmation classes are growing. His youth are strong and active.

I will write more about the situation in other posts. However, given the terrible news of the murders and riots, it becomes a hard lesson on why Luther's Two Kingdom Theology is so important to the work of proclaiming the gospel and loving our neighbors through acts of mercy.

Our work in Kenya is dependent upon an orderly and peaceful community so that we could help the widows, orphans, and poor through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK).

Please keep our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ in your prayers that the Lord would keep them safe, that the Lord will teach them how to serve even in the midst of this cross, that the Lord will permit His grace and mercy to be proclaimed at such a time of turbulence and chaos.

Tomorrow (Thursday, Jan 3) is a very important day. The opposition to the president is calling for a massive demonstration in Nairobi. The fears are great of riots and more murders. We pray that the civil authorities and citizens, whose authority comes from God (Romans 13), will wisely keep the peace and provide a workable solution.

"Thy will be done."