Rasoha Kavai washes her hands in the water found on the rock that is assumed to have the footprints of Jesus. [PHOTO: ERIC LUNGAI/STANDARD]

Whether it is mere superstition, love for religion or something beyond human understanding ‘Jesus’ footprints’ on a rock at Gevera village in Vihiga County, has drawn more attention than any other tourist attraction site in the region.

Considered a place of worship and rock of solace with magical water of life, the rock draws mixed reactions from both residents and visitors.

“On January 1, every church wants to hold their meetings on the rock, to feel the presence of God, and be blessed while worshiping from the very place where Jesus left his footprints,” Rasoha Kavai, on whose farm the rock is found, says.

The rock is slightly six kilometres from Mbale town, the county headquarters, and is situated near a stream that never runs dry.

Kavai says the footprints were discovered in 1965 when someone from Kisa in Kakamega county was heard praying on the rock.

“He was praying loudly which attracted neighbours to come and see what was happening.

When we arrived at the scene, he started preaching and when we asked him what he was doing on the rock and where he had come from. He said he was Peter,” Kavai says.

She continues: “He told us that while sleeping, he had a vision about the rock. God had shown him the footprints on the rock, and he started showing them to us. We saw some footprints belonging to an animal and those of a supposed human being, numbers and some letters.”

The 70-year-old says the man continued singing and praying, drawing a huge crowd of people who instantaneously joined him in worshiping.

She notes that when the area administration heard about what had happened, the sub-chief came and arrested everyone who had participated in gathering at the rock and took them to Vihiga Police Station.

“Officers at the station asked us why we had been arrested, we answered in unison that we were praying at the rock. We were released,” she says.

Since then, she says, people have often believed that Jesus walked on the rock, leaving the footprints, and have made it their place of worship whenever they feel like being in the presence of God.

“We are receiving visitors often who want to see the footprints. Schools and other institutions often bring their students to the rock, as it is considered a tourist attraction,” she says.

She says, visitors who come to the rock only promise to send her something later, but it never materialises. She, however, does not chase away anyone who wants to see the footprints, because it is a God-given gift.

“Any denomination that comes around and wants to worship, I welcome them. I sometimes join them in worship.”

“And whenever there are more than two denominations, they pray together on the rock. That way, peace and tranquillity prevails,” she says.

When First Lady Margaret Kenyatta visited the county while donating the Beyond Zero mobile clinic early in June, Governor Moses Akaranga led her in visiting the rock.

During the Miss Tourism Kenya finals that were held in the county, beauty queens and many other persons who visited the county frequented the place to see the footprints.

According to theologian Rev Simon Muhindi, although the footprints cannot be proven to be those of Jesus, belief imparted in the people since childhood has made them to associate the two.

Kavai says her conviction that the footprints do in fact belong to Jesus was firmed up in 2012 when she was very sick and on the brink of death.

“I heard a voice calling me and after this, I woke up and came directly to this rock. I washed my face in the water that had accumulated on the rock and immediately got healed,” she says.

Although widowed in 2008, Kavai says she is blessed to be alive and can even tend to her farm despite the near-death experience.