I drove through town on my way home from dropping off a close friend. We had met earlier in the day to catch up on life. I always like going into town on Sundays because it’s reminiscent of a ghost town compared to what its like in the middle of the workweek.
The cool thing about Sundays in Kenya is it seems to be the day families get to enjoy time together unlike any other day. Nairobi is full of fun little “carnival” type places that become packed with kids and their parents on the weekend. Uhuru park is no different. As I drove down Uhuru highway with the park on my left and downtown on my right I noticed that there seemed to be twice as many people as usual enjoying the inflatables, open fields of grass, and carnival atmosphere. I even remember thinking to myself how someday I would like to bring my future family to the park.
Five minutes after getting home I sat down to read the days paper. On the front page was the story about two explosions in Mombasa the night before. Then I got a text: Two Explosions in Nairobi! My friend was seeing if I was ok. The guessing game began. Where were the explosions and how bad was it going to be?
Two buses along Thika highway, less then a 2 minute drive from the house I am staying at, had exploded from an apparent terrorist attack. That’s when I noticed the sounds of siren’s in the distance. These would be the same buses that would be taking parents, children and others home to Githurai from the festivities at the park. Several of the 50+ injured are children.
I’ve seen a lot of violence in Kenya over my years residing here. I was in the country in 2008 during the election violence, where over 1,000 people died and over 200,000 were displaced. Two Feet Project Board members had recently left the country last year when the Westgate mall shooting occurred, killing 67 people. I’ve been in town and saw a man get gun downed after trying to escape a bank robbery. I’ve seen bodies lying on the side of the road and I’ve been blocks away from explosions. After all of this I don’t fear for my life, however; I do grieve for those that have lost theirs.
I pray daily for revival in this country and in this world. I wrestle with a hope that someday there will be peace and a reality in knowing deep down that it won’t come until Jesus’ returns. I walk around town not really worried about whether the next time it might be me that is affected by violence. I do worry though that the next time it will be someone I know and love personally.
Kenya is really no different then a lot of places around the world. People have been losing their lives in senseless killings in Syria, Sudan, Crimea, Mexico, the US, and so many more. The cause might be different but the pain and suffering is the same.
There are people who are so hurt and neglected they’ll do anything to be heard. But God’s love is still full of Grace. His forgiveness is free. His love for each person, both the attacker and the attacked, is consistent. The only difference is that for some this reality is a known fact and to others, they’re still searching for acceptance and love.
The sirens pierce the air throughout the night. I rest peacefully in the comfort of my bed. It will be a long night for many others. All Two Feet Project employees are safe. Other company’s employees aren’t so lucky.
As I write, the death toll is three, twenty in critical condition, and thirty others suffering from some sort of injury; Four explosions in two days with no sign of stopping. I pray that I’m wrong.
Kenya is a beautiful country. The people are strong and these attacks will not destroy it. The people of Kenya have seen a lot and they continue to persevere. Resilience is a powerful thing. As we look to the future, we continue to persevere ourselves. We hold tight to the promises that God has given us as we look to Him for our resilience.
Next Sunday the inflatables will be blown up, the kids will come from around town, and Kenya will enjoy another Sunday with their families in honor of those that no longer can.
Jesus come quickly; let us continue to love our neighbors and let us someday see this world the way you intended. Let us be a small part in seeing this hope become reality.
Until that day, Kenya will persevere.
~Stephen Ishmael, Two Feet Project President