Relatives of individuals suspected to have joined Pastor Paul Mackenzie’s church in Kilifi County are keeping their fingers crossed as security officers continue to exhume bodies from a mass grave in his expansive 800-acre Shakahola forest farm.
So far, 73 bodies have been recovered.
In Vihiga County, the parents of Kevin Asena, 41 years, are happy that he was arrested during a raid by police on Good News International Church, and in the process, his life was saved.
Asena called his parents a week ago to say he was headed for death through starvation. He has been a member of the cultic church for over five years now.
The family says it got information that their son was rescued together with his wife Miriam Okembo and placed under police custody.
Asena’s father Harun Ambajo and mother Mary Jarenga said they were glad that their son was arrested as he was a risk to his own life, that of his wife, and five children.
They said Asena called and warned that that would be the last time they were hearing from him, his wife, and their children.
“He called and he had one message, that when we call next time, and we don’t get him on phone, he would have died of starvation propagated by pastor Mackenzie,” Ombajo said.
By good luck, a day later, they received a police report that Asena had been placed in custody for being a member of Good News International Church.
“I heard from friends that my son was arrested, then a day later, I was told his wife too was in police custody,” said Ombajo.
Although Ombajo fears for the well-being of his own son and family facing the law, he appreciates the fact that being placed under police watch will guarantee his safety and that of his family.
“I look at my son’s arrest, and I am grateful. If he would have continued staying at Shakahola with his family, he would be dead by now,” said Ombajo.
He believes they would be safer as prisoners than continue serving under pastor Mackenzie. “I love my son so much, I have always prayed for his well-being but never wished arrest for him, however, that is better than seeing him dead,” Ombajo said.
Ombajo is now concerned about the whereabouts of his five grandchildren following the arrest of their parents. “We don’t know where they are, we can’t tell if they are safe or not,” Ombajo told The Standard.
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Asena’s family is struggling to raise bus fare to travel to Kilifi.