On March 24, 2014, the ordinary Sunday morning in Mombasa, Kenya, quickly shifted into a deadly chaos. The day started with prayer and a church service, but it ended with seven dead congregants and twenty-one severely injured church members.
The attackers struck the Joy in Jesus Pentecostal Church in the Likoni area on Kenya’s east coast. Three masked young men interrupted the church service with gunfire. Austin, a church member, told VOM workers, “I heard some gunshots outside. In my mind, I thought that maybe there was something else out there, maybe robbers doing here and there with the police. We just kept on and proceeded with the teachings. In my mind, I didn’t think that these people were coming inside the church.”
To his surprise, the attackers came into the church and sprayed the congregation with bullets, killing the assistant pastor who was speaking at the front.
Austin and his family were gravely affected. Austin received several bullet wounds and the lasting effects don’t allow him to work. His wife, Diana, had very serious injuries. She suffered multiple fractures to her leg, and ribs and spent five months recuperating in the Kijabe hospital in south central Kenya, with care VOM arranged.
As Diana lay in the hospital bed in agony, at times she felt discouraged. Her physical pain was severe. She was not able to concentrate and could not even receive the words of encouragement from visiting VOM staff.
However, Diana knew “there was no other hope except in God;” her trust was in her Savior. “When the accident happened, I was very discouraged, but God’s Word encouraged me and I am now able to stand,” she told VOM workers several months later.
God can use even the most difficult circumstances for his purpose, she said, and in this case, Austin’s mother became a believer as a result of watching the couple steadfastly weather the trial. “These persecutions will strengthen the Church if you remain faithful,” Austin said.
Diana and Austin last year, after meeting with VOM workers and sharing their story.
VOM has stood by the couple for the past three years as Diana has undergone extensive medical treatment. We also assisted the family by providing for their son’s education while they recover. Diana was due for another surgery this spring, but her surgeon had to leave the country. VOM field workers continue to provide support by helping her seek the right care and reschedule the surgery with another surgeon.
Diana wanted to reassure others who might be similarly suffering. She said, “Psalms 121 encouraged me. I want to encourage those who are going through pain like me that they shouldn’t be discouraged, God is there! When God brings trials to you, there will always be a way; he will have a way out. Just continue hoping in the Lord, trusting the Lord. Don’t let God go because of such trials.”
As Diana continues to get well, she asks for prayer for her family, for her marriage and that she’ll be able to reach lost family members with the gospel that has sustained her through this trial.