Many of you are aware of the horrible tragedy that took place last week at Westgate Mall in Nairobi. A group of Al-Shabab militants stormed the mall killing and injuring numerous innocent people and destroying the shopping center in the process. This act of terror hit very close to home for us. Even though we are currently 8,000 miles away, at home in the States, Nairobi has been our home for the last 5 years. We are currently working towards returning to Kenya where we plan to live and serve for the foreseeable future. We have many friends and loved ones in Nairobi. I have former students that were in the mall with their families when the attack happened. Westgate is a place that we visit frequently. It is a place we go for dinner, to have a cup of coffee, to catch a movie, to visit our favorite bookstore , or to shop at Masai Market, which opens every Tuesday in the roof-top parking lot (the same roof-top parking lot that collapsed into the floors below it). Seeing the terror and destruction that happened there last Saturday was difficult for us, because we can picture ourselves there. We have walked those halls and had coffee at those cafés. Seeing images of the kids that were affected was even more heart-wrenching…..our children have been there dozens of times. Had we still been in Kenya we could have easily been at Westgate last Saturday afternoon.
However, as tough as it is for us to process this horrendous tragedy….we weren’t there. We weren’t harmed. Our children are safe. So our pain is nothing compared to those that were. Our hearts are broken for these victims…children that lost their parents, parents that lost their children, people that lost their spouses, friends, and loved ones. The hundreds of people that were injured physically, and the countless more that will have to deal with emotional and psychological damage for the rest of their lives. We can not fathom the depth of suffering. Our prayers are with them.
We don’t understand the evil that would possess people to commit these types of heinous acts. This isn’t the first time Al-Shabab has attacked Kenya. They have been responsible for kidnappings and several other, smaller, attacks in the last 2 years. They have also claimed responsibility for a couple of attacks in Kenyan border towns this week….but we pray for them as well.
Thank you to those of you that have contacted us offering condolences and your prayers. Please continue to pray for peace, strength, and healing for all of these people and families that were victims of this tragedy.
If you would like to assist those affected you can make on-line contributions through Kenya Red Cross (www.kenyaredcross.org). We also have friends in Nairobi that have organized collections if you would like that contact info.