After the government announced phased reopening of churches under strict conformity with health safety rules, Christians welcomed the move though hopeful that the measures would be revised.
From far, one is welcomed by a red flag ushering the reminder of a sign of Akorino church.
But this church in Embu County is unique. It is two in one. Before entering the church, congregants have to remove their shoes because Akorino faithful believe in the sanctity of their sanctuary.
It is here that worshipers are celebrating reopening of the churches but not in a hyped tone. Some say that the services are too short and they do not feel blessed by the word of God like there before the pandemic had hit the country.
But amidst low-key celebration is a thorny issue eating into the joy of the congregants trying to enforce the new rules at the places of worship.
The church leaders say that their children are not safe alone at home. Most of the worshipers are said to have a stack at their homes so that they can take care of them depending on the nature of the environment.
Jedidah Wangui, a chairlady of the Akorino church in Embu County called upon the government to loosen the measures taken and allow the children to join them in their services thus protecting them from accidents and other health issues including rape when left alone at home.
‘The lord says that let the children come to me’
According to the pastor in charge of Oasis of Love Church Ministry Mwea Rev Cason Maina, leaving children at home is a disservice to them and the command of the gospel which orders parents to prepare them to meet God at the sanctuary.
Rev Maina points out that children are more prone to risk when left alone at home where they are easy preys of child traffickers.
The cleric decried lack of space saying that most churches in Kenya have no space and majority can only afford tents and chairs that can only fit a group of fifty children in each session.
Most of the hundred-seater tents can hold at least half of the number to maintain social distance. The preachers are also challenging the government’s directive on account that most children above four years are able to stick with their masks for more than two hours.
“We have realised that some of the worshipers who have children of ages above five years are always accompanied by the children and leave them outside the church because they are sure that the service is taking one hour,” said Rev Maina.
“It is very safe for our children to remain in the hands of men of God who will be able to guide them moral issues rather than leaving them risky outside the churches exposing them to a variety of risks.”