Tag: Garissa

Let this cup pass….

Finding the Gethsemane in Garissa


On the Maundy Thursday 2-APRIL-2015, Al-Shabaab – a Muslim terror group – woke the morning of Garissa University College with Terror. By 8 pm at the end of the Day of horror, more than 147 [govt count but witness claim 280-300] people were killed, either shot or slaughtered. The Christian Union group who had gathered for early morning prayers did not only lift their voice in prayers to heaven, the terrorist’s bullets lifted 13 of them up to the throne of the Lamb. They were brutally killed. The survivors and many of us Christians living in Garissa at the epicenter of terror attacks remembered Gethsemane.
He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭26‬:‭42‬ ESV).

We may not know nor can we fully comprehend either the physical or the spiritual pain that Jesus had to endure. Why would He make such a prayer? For up until this point, it seems that Jesus had known fully well what He would face on the cross, and went toward it willingly and resolutely. Both before and after the prayer in the Garden, Jesus knew what His death would entail, and showed complete acceptance of it. How, then, can we understand His prayer in the Garden for the cup to pass from Him?

Mathew [26:36] uses the Greek word parerchomai for pass, which could be translated in a variety of ways. It could speak about ‘coming to completion’, or ‘inability to pass away until it is fulfilled like in Matt 5:18. But we can benefit greatly from the Ginsburg Hebrew New Testament for insight to allow us appreciate Jesus’ prayer. Ginsburg, in Matthew 26:39, translated the word ‘pass’ in Hebrew as abar, which means ‘to pass through’. The import of his choice of words is visible from the account of the Passover (cf. Exodus 12:12, 23). Here, the Lord “passed over” (Heb. pesach) the houses of the Israelites marked with blood of the lamb on the doorpost, but He “passed through” (Heb. abar) the houses of the Egyptians without.

This fits perfectly with the Passover imagery. At Passover meal, they would have drunk deeply from four cups of wine. The custom was that when the communion cup came to the place you were reclining, you had to drink from it as deeply as you could, before passing it on to the next person at the table. Often, at the bottom of the cup, there were bitter dregs from the wine. If you were the person to empty the cup, you must drink the bitter dregs as well, before you “let this cup pass.”

So when Jesus prays, “Let this cup pass from me,” He is not saying, “I don’t want to drink it,” but is rather praying, “Let me drink of it as deeply as I possibly can before I pass it on to humanity. Let me empty it. Let me drain it. Let me drink all of it, even the bitter dregs at the bottom of the cup.”

Jesus’ shadow at the garden was cast over us. One can imagine the sweat drops of blood on his people in Garissa University. They now join many other Christians who have followed Christ in his agony. Philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaar rightly observed that, “Present-day Christendom really lives as if the situation were as follows: Christ is the great hero and benefactor who has once and for all secured salvation for us; now we must merely be happy and delighted with the innocent goods of earthly life and leave the rest to Him. But Christ is essentially the exemplar, that is we are to resemble Him, not merely profit from Him.” (The Journals of Søren Kierkegaard). The 13 Christian Union members gathered in prayers resembled him. Many who hid in the wardrobes and under their beds yet in fervent prayers were like him, resigned to God’s will. In our uncertainty, living in this context, we seek to resemble him in his agony of that night, all for our Redemption!

The terrorists’ false idea of linking non-Muslims with the government of Kenya contributed directly to the attack. There is a temptation, therefore, to engage in this matter from an increasingly complex religious political angle. It is clear that the students were killed due to the government’s policy on anti-terrorism. According to survivors interviewed, the Al Shabaab explained to students that they are paying for the mistakes and refusal of President Uhuru Kenyatta to withdraw Kenya Defence Forces from Somalia. This presents us with a dilemma of distinguishing whether this should be perceived as a religious persecution or a political one. But that they died because of their faith is explained in the way they were separated from their Muslim colleagues, none of whom were killed. There is some wisdom, though, in David Frankfurter, a College of Arts & Sciences professor and chair of religion, of Boston University. Frankfurter, whose expertise includes the religion-violence nexus, notes that: “One of the problems with discussing religious persecution is that in some religious traditions, persecution and martyrdom lie at the very heart of the stories that organize religious identity itself. We can observe this tradition in Judaism, Shiite Islam, and certainly Christianity, which begins with the martyrdom of an innocent man and continues with innumerable stories of graphic torture and death.”

How true that Christians embraced these stories, retold them, and even drew inspiration from them to annihilate perceived aggressors! Elizabeth Castelli, the Barnard scholar, has shown that persecution and martyrdom have offered Christians a sense of history, identity, community, and license for action. The great second-century Church father Ignatius of Antioch declared that only in persecution and martyrdom does Christianity become real, and most historians of the religion would say that this sentiment never really went away.

Terrorism is never an accident. It is deliberate, calculated, systematic and precisely executed. It has to be to succeed. But it needs soil in which to grow. That soil is a community that is prepared, consciously or unconsciously, to permit it, collude with it. In, The Prophet, it is said that “the leaf does not turn brown without the consent of the whole tree.” The resistance of Christian presence among Muslims has been cited as a case for terror.

Will the pressure of persecution on Christians curtail their witness? It is the will of God that all the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the water cover the sea. In his prayers, Jesus says, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39, 42) He completely trusted God’s plan, and He knew God’s will would be done. Trusting God doesn’t mean that I will always understand suffering or the reason behind it. But I’ve learned that because Jesus trusted God, my life is forever changed.

F.W. Boreham made a most helpful observation on persecution and the spread of the Gospel in The Candle and the Bird, Boulevards of Paradise, when he noted: “If you extinguish a light, the act is final: you plunge the room into darkness without creating any illumination elsewhere….But if you startle a bird, the gentle creature flies away and sings its lovely song upon some other bough.” He wonderfully points out that death is not the snuffing out of a candle; it is the escape of a bird. There is a divine element in humankind—an element which no tomb can imprison. And, similarly, there is a divine element in the Church – an element that no persecuting fires can devour. What a joy to know that that the bird that has forsaken us – the saints slain by the terrorists’ bullets- is singing her lovely song, to somebody else’s rapture, on a distant bough.

Oh may they sing on until that day dawns for which the Church has ever prayed, and as Boreham eloquently puts it, “when the Holy Dove shall feel equally at home on every shore and the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Jesus, as the Lamb of God slain before the foundations of the world, takes on the full brunt the punishment for sin and terror, allowing His blood to be put on the doorposts of all who believe in Him, so that punishment passes over them. It is God’s will that we drink from this cup also, lest we forget Gethsemane!

The writer serves with the All Saints Cathedral Diocese in Nairobi. The views expressed here are his own. (Caonoomondi08@gmail.com)

God in the bomb blast!

We were emboldened by your praying for us from all over the world!

Thank you for fervently praying and fasting with us for the three days we asked for prayers. Abdiwelis killing still fresh in our minds we were in for a huge shock come Sunday if the plans of the militias worked. The goal to terrorise us would have been the greatest so far since the attacks on Christians and security forces began mid last year.
Chris Ombati of standard newspaper reported:
“At least one suicide bomber was killed as a bomb he was assembling exploded in Garissa town on Saturday night.”
There was possibility that they were more than one and were not suicide bombers but terrorist bent to kill as many as possible on Sunday.

The body parts of the suspected male bomber were found scattered at the Garissa Primary School playing ground near the main dais.The school is next to the local military barracks and the dais is usually used for political rallies and other public events.
Two pistols, one full and a damaged one were found at the scene too.
The bomb was too powerful as it was felt about ten kilometers away from the scene, police and other locals said.
One of the pistols has been found to have been stolen from a CID officer in the area months ago in an attack by suspected terrorists, police said.
Narc Kenya presidential candidate Martha Karua was to hold a rally in the town and was to end up at the damaged scene, one of her aides confirmed.

According to the Garissa County Commissioner Maalim Mohammed, police had initially thought that the explosive material was thrown from a moving vehicle near Locus Hotel. This was again worryingly wrong assessment from those meant to care for us.

What happened was not known until Sunday morning, when it was established that, part of the dais has been damaged out of the explosion.
Police who arrived at the scene said the body parts of the deceased man were strewn all over.

“We can see body parts that can make a single human body but the number could be higher because the damage was huge. It must have been a huge bomb,” said a senior security official in the area.

Having taken the theme of Esther, we can perceive that, Harman hanged on his own gallows!
How we covet your further prayers that God will do his work in defeating evil and defending his church in Garissa during this lent season.
In the past year, there have been over 40 attacks involving grenades or explosive devices in Kenya, leaving at least 100 people dead and around 220 people injured.
Protest staged in Garissa
At least 15 of these attacks occurred in North Eastern Province, mainly in Dadaab, Wajir, and Garissa and four in Mombasa.
Six grenade and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks have occurred in Nairobi, illustrating an increase in the number of attacks and an advance in the sophistication of attacks.
They came after the Kenyan troops moved into Somalia to hunt down al-Shabaab militants who are blamed for several attacks in the country.

Your servant for Christs sake,
Rev Canon Omondi

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén