The Church’s peace stamp is required to end violence in political hot spots


A derelict police kiosk in Nyeri. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

According to the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, Mombasa and Nakuru form the hotspot pentagon. Hotspot – what a baptism! If the city were a person, what would it feel like to be called a “hotspot” of violence? A name change works well here.

People and institutions change names and take on new ones – either through a spiritual or legal process. Much like the Anabaptists, who declare some forms of baptism ineffective. They recommend another baptism – especially by immersion.

The “hot” thing about hotspots emerges from recent history, when these cities were drowned in pools of blood due to interethnic violence. ‘Hotspots’ could use another baptism. They need a baptism in peace waters, followed by a national declaration: “Let your name be no longer a focal point, but a place of peace.” While the government is committed to monitoring these cities closely, the church should set up its baptismal font in the cities.

Surely the Church cannot just stand by, as these big cities are brand names that suggest a thirst for human blood. The church – and the mosque and the temple and every shrine of positive spirituality – should decipher this ‘hotspot’ – name it as a desperate mother crying out for help, “Please help my demon-possessed child and they will throw it down.” and again in violent concussions! ”

Hotspot implies these cities as predictable factories of violence; that these cities are spirited, have anger problems, and show outbursts of anger. If violence were a commodity, it would have a label that read “Made in … (any of the four Cities)”.

Kenya‘s experience shows that when violence simmers, the government is preparing its troops to perform ball baptism, or, in its mildest form, tear gas baptism. But a look at the 2022 timeline shows that there is enough time to break those concussion cycles.

A man mourns the charred remains of a church in Kiambaa, Uasin Gishu, that was burned during the post-2007 election violence. [Courtesy]

There is enough time to cast out the “legion” of demons. It’s time enough to deny the demons their damned pleasure. We can starve the demons to death. With her catechism in hand, the Church has enough time to catechize and rename these cities.

The raw material for the violence in these cities is the cosmopolitan composition of the population and political positions. These are cities that are rich in ethnicities. Defying demons, the same combination that earned them this violence label is the one that would earn them the Friedensplatz title.

In order to take on the status of a parish adapter, the church must wean itself from its obsession with the two defining numbers: offering and presence. The church must baptize itself with a new obsession – the sacred obsession of transformation.

One advantage that the church has to reap from the pandemic is a relaxed fixation on the four-walled worship service. The pandemic has forced new practices. Nature wrote an open letter to all Christians entitled: Back to Community. Over time, an exaggerated notion that the sanctuary is the place of authentic worship has isolated the church from that part of its mission that is good news to all nations – to all, to all, through all.

Since the churches have largely reopened, the pandemic lessons of still being confined within the four walls are mocked. The church in the cathedral is too safe, controlled, and could deceive itself as serving the community if it actually controls the community with little knowledge of how “out there” is.

The church in the cathedral serves the community that comes to it. Much of the church comes and will not come to church. The church has to go to them. The pandemic has pushed the cathedral back in time. Forcing the return of “four walls” means insisting that the old is there and the new is gone.

The real celebration should be a sigh of relief as the pandemic renews our license to be where Jesus is – in fellowship. For the discerning, the pandemic has freed the church from the captivity of the cathedral, breaking the fetters of sticky, powerless traditions. The pandemic is restoring the pulpit in the community where spiritual imagination and creativity are rampant, while the church is confronted every day with demons terrorizing people.

Kawangware Nairobi residents set up a burning barricade during post-election violence on October 27, 2017. [Courtesy]

The pandemic is restoring the liberating dimension of the church. Church in the parish opposes standard liturgies; literally demands divine power; requires cooperation rather than isolation and demands spontaneity, as demons cross uninvited in their disorder.

Church in the congregation serves with a holy openness and thus a holy readiness, because unlike in the foreseeable order of worship on Sunday no day is like the other. This pandemic gift of a borderless church opens our eyes again to the possibility of baptizing communities into new ones.

One of the Church-sponsored candidates who must go into 2022 is peace. A win for peace is a great win for the church. The speech of the politician and the priest represent different versions of peace. While there is outer peace, there is also inner peace.

Inner peace detonates external violence. The scriptures tell not only of inner peace, but of one whose quality is “different from what the world gives”. That’s exactly where the difference lies. The church owes this kind of peace to the community, which is different from political peace. Without giving up the nationwide prayers, peace evangelization caravans with peace baptisms are at the top of the scoreboard.

The church must gather its thinkers and make this peace practical and active. In doing this, the Church has served this generation well by making the heat in the hot spots unnecessary. The church may have been removed from the essential ministry list during the pandemic, now the chance exists that it is not only providing an essential ministry but also a critical peace ministry.


About Sonia Martinez

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