Nairobi Mall Terror Witnessed by Missionaries
Religion TodayReligious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
- 2013 Sep 25
As sporadic gunfire continued to echo through sections of Nairobi and smoke hovered over Westgate Shopping Mall, the International Mission Board announced that all its personnel were accounted for, Baptist Press reports. "All of our folks, including spouses and children, are now safe," IMB spokesperson Wendy Norvelle said. "Please pray for them, though, since some were caught up in the tragic events of these past four days." Militants of the Somali-based al Shabaab organization seized the mall on Saturday, Sept. 21, in retaliation for what they called Kenya's interference in internal Somali affairs. They used automatic weapons and hand grenades to seize hostages and take control of the modern upscale mall, also setting fires inside the mall to distract Kenyan security forces. "Non-Muslims were lined up and shot -- even children," one IMB missionary said. An IMB missionary family of seven was trapped in the mall and separated as gunfire raged around them and bodies fell. They managed to escape within the first few hours of the siege. Another family lives a block away, and for four days they heard gunfire and explosions and the sounds of helicopters, ambulances and military vehicles moving in and out of the area. From their windows they saw smoke billowing from the mall. Peace and calm are yet to come, as security forces seek to flush out the last remaining militants holed up in the mall. Five militants have been killed and 11 captured, and for now it is a standoff. "After a few weeks we might be able to better evaluate how this tragedy has impacted individual lives and ministry," an IMB missionary said. Another added: "Thank you so much for continuing to lift Kenya up to the Father as people heal from this ordeal. Pray that even as people's thoughts ran to God during the crisis, they would continue to run to God as daily life resumes."