They Died Praying

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On Thursday, 2nd April 2015, only a few days short of Easter, a group of Islamist terrorists from Somalia, with Kenyan connections, slaughtered 150 unsuspecting students.

It seemed at first that the students at the Garissa University in Garissa, Kenya were killed indiscriminately. But a more complete picture has emerged since the massacre. Only Christian students died in this predominantly Christian university of 800 students, of which 200 were Muslims. The Al Shabaab terrorists were exclusively selecting Christians for the execution.

The killing started with the attack on the unsuspecting Christian Union students who meet for the time of fellowship and morning prayers. FOCUS – Fellowship of Christian Unions, a Christian student organization in Kenya stated: “We can confirm that the Christian Union members in a prayer meeting in Garissa University College were among the first targets of the terrorist attack. It appears most of whom died.” IFES, International Fellowship of Evangelical Students reports that “at least five FOCUS’ Executive Committee members and several other leaders are gone.” All of a sudden I saw them throw explosives were the Christian Union members were praying”, The World Watch Monitor quoted a survivor.

The massacre continued for 15 hours. “If you were a Christian, you were shot on the spot,” one survivor said. “ Some survivors heard the terrorists mocking, “We are here to make your Easter Holiday better”. Reuters reported that the attackers “stalked classrooms and dormitories hunting for non-Muslim students.” Reuters also quoted a survivor who witnessed the shooting of three girls when they were pleading for mercy and praying “Jesus, please save us”. Most of the victims were lined up and shot ‘execution-style’ in the back of their heads.

According to Reuters, Al Shabaab spokesman Sheik Abdiasis Abu Musab bragged, “We sorted people out and released the Muslims.” The students who were telling the four terrorists that they were Muslims were forced to recite the Shahada, the Islamic creed to prove that there were Muslims. The Kenyan People Daily shares the story of a survivor who said that “the saddest thing was to see your Muslim friends freed while their Christian counterparts were killed. They told them ‘You are our brothers and sisters, we cannot harm you’. Those were the most painful words I have heard.”

The world outcry is missing again. Again we are witnessing the same lack of sincere interest in the persecution of Christians we witnessed three months ago, in the aftermath of the massacres of 2000 Christians in Nigeria committed by Boko Haram, and the cold-blooded beheading of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt, executed in Libya by the ISIS affiliates. The mainstream media treats the latest atrocity as if it were of secondary importance. There are no widespread demonstrations of empathy for the victims and their families, or against the perpetrators of this mindless crime, like the demonstrations we witnessed in Paris, France following the terrorist attack against the cartoonists of the satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo. No one is shouting, “We are Garrisa!”

But not everyone is quiet. A visible group of Christian leaders honored the victims of the Easter massacre in Kenya by releasing and endorsing the “Urgent Call for Solidarity & Prayer for Persecuted Christians”. “This Holy Week we are calling upon Christians to also reflect upon the crucifixion, beheading, stoning, enforced slavery, sexual abuse, human trafficking, harassment, bombing and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Christians – and others – whose faith alone has made them a target of religious extremists”, stated the document launched by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and movie producers Roma Downey & Mark Burnett, and endorsed by many Christian leaders in the US. Sadly, the Call for Solidarity went almost unnoticed by the mainstream media although it was co-signed by 80 faith leaders.

The recent massacres of Christians committed by ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda and alike have contributed to making Christians today the most persecuted faith group. According to Open Doors, one of the best known organizations serving persecuted Christians worldwide, states that “every month 322 Christians are killed for their faith, 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed, and 722 forms of violence are committed against Christians”, including “beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests and forced marriages”. Although very conservative and incomplete those numbers speak volumes.

Unfortunately, it will get worse before it gets better. If one considers that the first months of 2015 have already witnessed multiple cases of major massacres of Christians, are we to expect anything better in the remaining months of the year? Another major atrocity against Christians could be only a few weeks away. This is why the people of good will and with their moral sensibilities still intact need to raise their voices against the increasing tide of deprivation, even more so when it is fed by perverted religious zealotism. This is why I affirm the bravery of the leaders of The Fellowship of Christian Unions (FOCUS) in Kenya who stated in their press statement issued on the 9th April, 2015:

We condemn the religious dimension of this particular attack at Garissa University. It has become absolutely clear that one of the first places invaded by the gunmen was the room in which the Christian Union members were conducting their morning prayers. This was for all practical purposes a place of worship, and the attack is an assault on freedom of worship. It is also unfortunate that religious profiling was a factor in the execution of the killings. We, therefore, strongly condemn this cowardly attack on a place of worship and the murder of individuals in prayer. While the attack has the potential to cause fear and hatred, we encourage students to continue meeting for worship as they have always done. More than ever we must embrace the cardinal rule of loving our enemies as exemplified by Jesus Christ himself. We cannot allow the terrorists the pleasure of even thinking that they have succeeded in intimidating us, and planting seeds of religious hatred among our students.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 12.15.02 PMIt is evident that the Garissa University attack was intended against Christians only. This atrocity, like many other of the kind committed in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Nigeria and elsewhere, regardless of how many lives were lost, are always the work of the depraved minds, whose mastermind is the devil himself “who prowls around like a roaring lion” looking to devour as many people as possible. 1. Peter 5:8. It is s not an exaggeration to conclude that all those brazen killings of so many innocent people that we have witnessed lately, especially of Christians just because they are Christians, or Muslims only because they are ‘Muslims of a different kind’, or Jews just because they are Jews at the hands of various kinds of Islamist terrorist is a form of devil worshiping. No God who is worthy to be worshiped and revered could ever be behind any form of evil.

And this is why all people of sober mind need to get together, Muslims including, and condemn with clarity and directness the current wave of ideologically driven terrorism in the world. Together we need to say to the bloodthirsty fanatics, “We are not afraid of you! You do not speak for us! Your murderous acts are an abomination in God’s eyes. Repent from you works of darkness and turn to the living God so that your sins may be forgotten.” Acts 3:19.

Moreover we need to join the prayers of millions of followers of Jesus worldwide as we seek the Lord to bring very much needed comfort and provide sufficient strength to all who lost their daughters and sons, brothers and sisters more than week ago in the terrorist attack on the Garissa University in Kenya. At this time our prayers need to be focused also on the need for reconciliation and tolerance in the Kenyan universities, says one of my friends, a young leader from Kenya in the email I received from him today. “We are concerned about what is going on in the Universities now. By the grace of God we need to spread the message of love”, says my Kenyan friend.

About Tihomir Kukolja

Tihomir Kukolja, born in Pozega, Croatia. Studied, lived and worked in Yugoslavia, Croatia, United Kingdom, Australia and the US. Educated in theology, communications, and radio journalism. Worked as a church pastor, media professional, radio producer and presenter, journalist, religious liberty activist, and reconciliation and leadership development activist. Lives in Houston TX, USA. Until recently served as the Executive Director, Forum for Leadership and Reconciliation (Forum), and Director of Renewing Our Minds (ROM) initiative. Loves photography, blogging and social media.
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6 Responses to They Died Praying

  1. Jonathan Cahn speaks at UN about Christian Persecution


  2. Two weeks have barely passed and new atrocities against Christians are being reported


  3. Zagreb, Croatia, Thursday 16th April 2015: 147 Seconds for Kenya: Croatian Students Ask Where is the Outrage: At 14.7 hours (2.27 pm) 147 students in Zagreb, Croatia made a public statement of their demonstration against the global ignoring of close to 150 Kenyan students murdered in a terrorist attack on April 2. Their message was: “Twelve killed in France the world stopped, when 147 students are killed in Kenya where’s the outrage?” Watch the video


  4. Pingback: They Died Praying | The Spotlight

  5. Thanks so much for sharing this post and drawing attention to this horrible travesty! I will be spotlighting it at, to go live in a few hours. May God comfort the families of the fallen, and visit the enemies of our faith with His holy judgment.


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