Tensions were high among nomadic tribes in northeastern Kenya. The Boran and the Gabra had started a revenge cycle. It was a familiar pattern among tribes in the area. This time, a Boran man suspected to be a cattle thief was killed by some Gabra youth. Two days later, two Gabra were killed. The alarm was raised. Boran warriors were preparing to raid, but the Gabra were alert and wanted to attack first.
The situation was almost getting out of hand when the Eleventh Hour Network, headed by Rev. Tesfaye Getachew, stepped in. Church leaders from all the communities did not want the violence to escalate, so they urgently called for three days of fasting and repentance. That is when I was called to help facilitate reconciliation.
Reconciliation is more likely to happen when people are willing to talk to each other! So, talking is where we started. The first day, Friday, was difficult. People were suspicious of each other. There was not very much interaction. I gave a teaching but also told stories of reconciliation, particularly of my experience with the Hutu and Tutsi in Bujumbura, Burundi after the 1996 genocide.
By the second day, men and women representing the five main tribes were present: Boran, Gabra, Burji, Rendile and Samburu. Things were starting to break open. They began to confess publicly on behalf of their tribes, repenting of specific evil acts. These were tender moments when many people in the audience went down on their knees and cried, some weeping loudly.
On Sunday, the last day, it seemed as if heavens literally opened. After more teachings and much prayer, representatives from the tribes came forward to wash one another’s feet. That, for me, was very moving.
The region had been very dry, but I felt the Lord telling me that it was going to rain. I took a risk and declared the same at the end of the meeting. We received a call the next day from excited pastors, reporting that there had been a heavy rainstorm soon after we left. Heaven was open, indeed. I pray it remains open for these precious children of God.