Mary’s husband Elia (35) chairman and leader of the church youth (for ten years), was attacked by a gang with machetes while guarding Gilgal Worship Centre in Mwanza at 1am on October 22nd 2013 along with two other church members-they survived he did not. Bishop Sentoz, the pastor said Elia was like a son to him, a believer since 2001 and a fine, gentle hard-working young man. Elia and Mary had been married four years. She feels terrible loss and agony despite the fact Scripture warns that these events may happen.
Pray for the healing of her heart, comfort and wisdom for the future as she has two young children: Prosper (3) a son and baby daughter Prisca.
You can write a letter of support and encouragement to her and others in need here…Letter writing
11/23/2013 Washington D.C.
(International Christian Concern) – The brutal murder of a youth Pastor in Tanzania confirms suspicions of an ongoing campaign of Christian persecution in the region and raises concerns over the rise of radical Islamists in East Africa. The Murder of a Youth Pastor On Oct. 22, at around 1am, unknown men stormed into an overnight service of Gilgal Christian Worship
Centre in an area known as Pasiansi in the Ilemela district of Mwanza province. The assailants attacked a 35-year old youth leader, Elias Lunyamila Meshack, along with two other worshippers, hacking them with machetes. The Pastor was killed on the spot, while the other two victims were badly injured in the brutal attack. His widow Mary Elijah Meshack is receiving diaconal help from her church in raising her children.
UPDATE OCTOBER 2015
Mary continues to be greatly encouraged by the 4,000 plus cards and letters of support she received . May God give her wisdom and if it be his will a godly new husband.
By the first week of November, one of the surviving victims was released from the hospital, while the other was in critical condition but said to be recovering. “I don’t think this was robbery because the aim of robbers is to steal money and other items, yet nothing was stolen here!” said Bishop Eliabu Sentozi, the leader of Gilgal Christian Worship
Centre. A police investigation is said to be ongoing, but the case remains unresolved. Over the past few years, Christians in Tanzania have been victimized by increased incidents of persecution at the hands of radical Muslims. Several pastors and church members have been murdered, while others have suffered acid attacks. Churches have been bombed or burned and property belonging to Christians has been destroyed. As Cameron Thomas, International Christian Concern’s Regional Manager for Africa, said, “Christians in Tanzania suffer persecution on a regular basis. Despite the government’s best efforts to quell religious violence, the hostility shown to Christians by radical muslims seems to be worsening. This horrific attack illustrates the level of danger Christian leaders face in Tanzania today.” A Campaign of Persecution in the Region Tanzania is No. 24 on the 2013 World Watch List of countries where being a Christian is most difficult. In this Christian majority country with a substantial Muslim population, Islamic militants on the Zanzibar archipelago are bent on wiping out all Christians from the islands. On Sep. 13, an elderly Catholic priest, Fr. Amselmo Mwangamba, was the victim of an acid attack by militant Muslims while leaving an internet café in Stone Town, a historic city on the island. He suffered burns on his face, chest and arms. It was the fifth acid attack on the island since November 2012, according to the BBC. On June 2, a large group of radical Muslim youths attacked the home of Robert Ngai, Pastor of the Evangelical Assemblies of God Church, in Geita town, in north-east Tanzania. During the severe machete attack, he suffered serious cuts on his hands and arms when he tried to protect his head from the blows. Two nights before the attack on Pastor Ngai, a group of assailants visited the home of Pastor Daudi Nzumbi, also in Geita, but the attackers were scared off by the barking of guard dogs
On Feb. 2 2013, on mainland Tanzania, Pastor Mathayo Kachili, an Assemblies of God minister, was hacked to death in the Geita region, on the southern shores of Lake Victoria, when he tried to intervene in a dispute between villagers over the slaughter of an animal. With respect for Islamic tradition, the local government had granted Muslims alone the right to act as butchers. Recently however, Christians in Geita district have entered the butcher trade. Violence erupted after a non-Muslim butcher prepared meat to be served at a funeral. Protestors took out their anger on the Assemblies of God church, killing the Pastor. His widow Generosa struggles to raise 11 children.
The Rise of Islamists in Coastal East Africa Christians are the majority in Tanzania, but extremism is growing in Zanzibar, which has expressed its desire for complete autonomy from mainland Tanzania and the declaration of an Islamic State. If the drive for the spread of Islam reaches the mainland, it could threaten the safety of Christians across the nation, increasing the frequency of such violent attacks. A push for Zanzibar’s Muslims to secede has come from a group called Jumiki (Jumuiyaya Uamshoname Hadharayaki Islam), better known as Uamsho or “the awakening” in Swahili. Church leaders suspect this group of being behind the hacking of the youth Pastor in Tanzania. The rise of violence has social and economic motivations, according to Dismass Lyassa, a Social Editor at the Mwananchi Newspaper in Tanzania, who also said, “Poor Muslim coastal areas in Kenya and Tanzania have proved fertile recruitment ground for Somalia’s al Shabaab militants.” Analysts also say that the rise of Islamic radicalism in the region is fueled by structural problems, more than religious dogma. “East Africa’s coastal problems are structural and cannot be blamed solely on the export of terrorism from the Horn of Africa in the north. Nor are these problems created by Al Qaeda. What is clear is that these problems can be easily exploited to further political violence in a tenuous region,” according to Ahmed Salah Hashim, writing for the Albany Tribune. However, these structural and social issues only create a conducive environment for a pre-existing agenda of Christian persecution to continue unabated. It is vital that these issues are resolved quickly, so that the fuel which fans Islamic extremism to a flame can be quenched before it consumes the region with more needless violence.