At least four people are dead in Malindi, Kenya, in the county of Kalifi, after members of a congregation succumbed to a pastor’s insistence that they fast for their faith.
These people who died from starvation lost their lives while being transported to the hospital, while eleven others were rescued and stabilized. As many as thirty may be buried in a forest, police fear.
The church in question, the Good News International Church, is a Christian organization that has attracted the attention of police before. The leader of the congregation, Makenzie Nthenge, also known as Paul Makenzie Nthenge, was forced to close his church doors in 2019. This occurred after a couple in his care starved and smothered their two boys as he beseeched them to purify the children.
As relayed by Newsweek, the publication The Standard reported at the time that Nthenge promised to shutter his enterprise. “The message has already been delivered and I am closing the ministry together with the TV station by the end of November.”
However, we see now that in 2023 Nthenge not only reconstituted his congregation but has indulged in extreme indoctrination methods that some characterize as brainwashing. He related, according to KTN News, “that it is only through such acts that they will go to heaven.”
The pastor had just been charged a month ago in connection with the aforementioned child starvation, for which he denies any personal involvement.
Charles Kamau, a criminal investigations officer who was interviewed, stated, “The information at hand is that there are more people who are believed to be in the bush, and we are still in the course of investigations to go and see to them.” It’s believed that perhaps up to 30 people may have been buried in these backwoods.
“The people there were being starved after being radicalized by a certain member of a church,” Kamau said, as reported by Reuters. That person “told them that their work in this world is done and that they are waiting for—that they should die and go and see their Creator.”
As for the persons rescued, they range in age from 17 to 49, with the majority in their mid- to late 30s. Eight of them have reportedly been stabilized as they recover in the hospital. Police say that they may actually face charges for attempted suicide. Three of the rescued remain in critical condition.
Nthenge, with regards to the case of the two suffocated boys, stated that he was “the target of hostile propaganda from former colleagues,” Reuters reports. The case, according to KTN News, has been referred to the International Criminal Court.