Lots of commentary has been made on the Garissa massacre and a good deal of helpful reflection too. Many have made the connection between the first Good Friday and this Maundy Thursday attack. Some have also noted the Christian Union group who were meeting at the time of the attack and were among the first to be killed. The following is from Open Doors:
We spoke to Frederick Gitonga, the 21-year-old Chairman of the Christian Students’ Union on the Garissa campus of Moi University, who survived the attack. He would normally have been at the prayer meeting where 22 students from the Christian Union were killed, but avoided the same fate after he found he was too tired to attend.
He had gone to bed after midnight the night before the attack because he was counselling another student. “This student was the first to die the next morning.”
Fred woke up in time for the morning prayers, but decided to go back to sleep. He awoke to the sound of gunshots. “My roommates ran out, leaving the door wide open. I felt a strong urge not to run, but to stay put. As I hid under the bed, I could hear the gunshots and screams of fellow students. After some time things went quiet, but I did not move.”
Two attackers entered the room where Fred was hiding. “They sat on the beds, changed their rifle magazines, and then shot at the walls to test them before going out to resume the killings. I stayed there for long – I do not know how long – but was eventually rescued by a Kenya Defence Force officer.”
Initial reports suggested that at least 70 members of the Christian Union had died; however, this was based on the usual number of students who attended morning prayers, which was between 60 and 70. “Yet on that day… about 50 members gave it a miss. Sadly, all 22 who went to pray died there.”
Many of those who died were leaders of the Christian Union; the group was in the process of installing a new committee, and both old and new members of the committee were killed. “We had just elected new officials on February 15th and the handing over process was not yet over.”
- Please use these names to pray for their grieving families. Frederick also asks:
- “Please pray for us. Pray for the surviving students to heal not just in body, but in mind too. Many saw sights too horrible to describe and those memories can harm if not attended to. I pray that they each get adequate psychological help.
- “Pray also for the surviving committee members. We need God’s wisdom as all surviving Garissa University students are to relocate to Moi University’s main campus in Eldoret on May 20th. We pray for smooth integration and acceptance within the Christian Union and student body as a whole.
- “Pray for me too. I need peace of mind, strength, and wisdom. I am struggling with dreams that cause me to snap awake and then I cannot get back to sleep. I find myself remembering the horror of that day. The sounds and smells came back clearly. I need God to help me forget. May He also help me to serve in this trying time and to know the way forward when we get to the new campus.”
- Eliud Wabukala’s statement following the Garissa attack
- Widow of Dr Ben Juma prays for salvation of his killers (Open Doors)
- The ISIS Phenomenon (Conversation Magazine Issue 4)