NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Within three weeks of putting his faith in Christ, a 26-year-old former Muslim in western Kenya was beaten in a mosque and later arrested without charges, Christian leaders said.
Hassan Hussein Mohammed wouldn’t normally have admitted to being a Christian while attending mosque prayers. But he had to explain why his mind and tongue froze last month when told to lead prayers at a mosque in Mogotio, they said.
Sent to Mogotio for an internship from a mosque in Nyahururu, where he was training to become a Muslim leader, Mohammed met people from a church in the town in Baringo County. Members of a King’s Outreach Church in Mogotio spoke with him about Jesus, and on April 10 he met with church leaders.
“I have just come and want to be prayed for to be a follower of Jesus,” Mohammed told them.
Pastor Victor Kurui prayed for him, and Mohammed received Christ, they said.
Mohammed later went to the mosque only to collect his identification papers, but leaders ordered him to stay and conduct evening prayers. After some hesitation, he agreed. A voice within, he later told church leaders, told him not to lead the prayers, and when he tried to say them his mind blanked. He then admitted that he had accepted “Isa,” Jesus.
Those in the mosque beat him with a blunt object, kicked him and struck him until he was unconscious, he told church leaders. When he regained consciousness a few minutes later, he said, “I am ready to die for Isa, and I forgive you for what you have done to me,” the church leaders told Morning Star News.
He managed to get away and slept in a nearby sisal plantation for two of the next three nights before visiting the church’s Sunday worship on April 13, where he gave the congregation testimony of his conversion. One of the pastors, Johana Cheruiyot, invited him to stay at his house.
News of his conversion spread, and the next day Mohammed received phone threats from Muslims saying they no longer wanted to see him.
“You will regret why you left the prophet’s religion,” said one anonymous text message, church leaders said.
The church participated in a King’s Outreach Church revival event in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, 313 kilometers (192 miles) west of Nairobi, on April 18-20, that Mohammed attended. On April 30, Mohammed, pastor Kurui and pastor Cheruiyot were arrested in Mogotio and put in custody for the night. The reasons for Mohammed’s arrest were unclear, but apparently his being a Muslim from outside the area raised suspicions as Kenya cracks down on an increasing extremist presence – with his conversion to Christianity possibly raising even more suspicions.
“Mohammed had one message all through his interrogation – that he had made a sound, conscious personal choice of embracing the Christian faith,” said pastor Cheruiyot. “He kept saying, ‘I converted to Christianity, and I have left Islam.’ This was a big surprise to those who were interrogating him.”
Someone had reported to authorities that pastor Cheruiyot was housing Mohammed, and the pastor was surprised to the see the lead security officer arrive at his house with 20 policemen who arrested him, Mohammed and later pastor Kurui for questioning. The pastors were questioned about Mohammed and his conversion.
The three Christians were taken to Eldoret police on May 1, and the two pastors were released after recording their statements. When the pastors last saw Mohammed, he was still in the vehicle that had taken them to Eldoret. His whereabouts are now unknown.
The pastors tried to persuade officers that Mohammed was not a suspicious character and should be set free, they said. Originally from Marsabit in northern Kenya, Mohammed was known as a law-abiding citizen and was not “in hiding” at the pastor’s house but moved about openly with him, they told police.
Terrorist attacks have increased in Kenya as Somali rebel militia from the Islamic extremist Al Shabaab group have been driven into Kenya by Kenya-led forces fighting them in Somalia, and authorities are increasingly wary of Muslims. Kenya is a 83 percent Christian while only 8 percent are Muslim, according to Operation World.
Muslims in Kenya are increasingly associated with terrorism, a Kenyan Muslim told Morning Star News.
“We are being stopped by policemen and asked to produce identification cards,” he said. “We are now living under fear.”
The two pastors said security officers repeatedly asked them why Mohammed decided to convert to Christianity.
Given the threats area Muslims made against Mohammed, the two pastors suspect those at the mosque may have tried to frame him as terrorist. Both pastors are from Mogotio, and pastor Cheruiyot housing a new convert should not have caused such alarm, they said.
Authorities have impeded the pastors from making contact with Mohammed. The two church leaders told Morning Star News that Mohammed genuinely converted to Christianity.
“We are requesting prayers for the release of Mohammed,” said pastor Kurui.
The two pastors have been ordered to report to Mogotio police on June 2, when they hope officers will cooperate with them in their efforts to learn Mohammed’s location.
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