Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, accused of inducing his parishioners to death fasts, turned himself in to the police. Kenyan President William Ruto has vowed to crack down on “shady” religious movements.
Paul Mackenzie Nthenge is accused of causing the deaths of more than 70 members of the Christian church he leads in Kenya. The pastor asked his followers to fast until they met Jesus, which led to dozens of people starving to death. The bodies were found in graves by the authorities of the African country.
“We have found 73 bodies in the woods as of tonight” and the search for new bodies “will continue tomorrow,” said a police officer investigating the case.
The President of Kenya, william rutovowed to take forceful action against “shady” religious movements.
“What we saw in (…) Sakhola is characteristic of terrorists,” the president declared on Monday.
“Terrorists use religion to further their heinous acts. People like Mackenzie use religion to do exactly the same thing.”, he added.
Makenzi was arrested on suspicion of asking his followers to fast to death to meet Jesus.
Over the weekend, at Makenzi’s 300-hectare ranch, African authorities rescued a group of people alive. However, given the serious state of health in which they were, some of them died later. In addition, they found dozens of shallow graves marked with crosses. The total death toll now stands at 73, with 26 new bodies exhumed on Monday, he told Associated Press Malindi Sub-County Police Chief John Kemboi.
Paul Mackenzie Nthenge was a taxi driver who decided to become a pastor. In 2003 he founded the International Church of the Good News. The cult that he leads has been targeted by the Kenyan authorities due to various complaints. Since 2017, Mackenzie has been arrested twice for his extreme preaching. At the beginning of the year he was arrested for promoting the non-schooling of children by pointing out that education was not recognized by the Bible
On April 14, the pastor turned himself in to authorities, after police received reports of “ignorant citizens starving to death under the pretext of knowing Jesus after having undergone brainwashing.”
Following the complaints, dozens of bodies were found in the Shakahola Forestnear the place where members of the cult led by the self-proclaimed spiritual leader, who before founding the church was a controversial televangelist, fasted.
The religious organization’s website indicates that it was “created on August 17, 2003 by the servant of God PN Mackenzie.” With branches in various regions of the African country, the International Church of the Good News has more than 3,000 members.
“The mission of this ministry is nurture the faithful holistically in all areas of Christian spirituality as we prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ through teaching and evangelism,” the church’s website reads.
“Message of the end times” is the program with which the pastor evokes “teachings, sermons and prophecies about the end times, commonly called eschatology.”
“Bring the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ free from deception and the intellect of man”, is one of the bases of Mackenzie’s preaching.
His sermons can be seen on his YouTube channel from his former church in the coastal city of Malindi. In his preaching he warns his followers on different matters.
In 2019, he said that he decided to close his church after receiving a revelation. “I only pray with myself and with those who have chosen to believe”, he told the African newspaper The Nation.
Mackenzie is also accused of being behind the death of two children whom he induced to fast and they starved to death.
On Sunday Kenyan police found members of the church in critical condition. They were delirious, with exorbitants and refused food.
“A woman absolutely refused first aid and clamped her mouth shut, refusing to eat and wanted to continue her fast until death,” said Hussein Khalid, a member of the NGO Haki Africa, which denounced Mackenzie.
“We ask the national government to send troops to the field so that we can go into the interior (of the forest) to help the victims who continue to fast until death.”, he added.
The Shakahola forest, of more than 300 hectares, was declared a crime scene and cordoned off by the authorities. In that place Mackenzie bought some land that he said he uses to farm. However, from there he continues to preach to hundreds of followers.
“I am shocked by the allegations that have been brought against me. I closed my Good News International church in Malindi in August 2019 and it is important that people accept that. I even sold the equipment and chairs too. If a person used to follow me, they should do it on their own now and not by my name. Let him follow Christ and not Pastor Mackenzie, ”he said in an interview with an African medium.
Humphrey Nyongo, a former member of the church, revealed what McKenzie does with his followers, asking them to quit their jobs, skip meals and not seek medical treatment when they get sick.
“I was a believer in his sermons for 10 years. When the Malindi church closed three years ago, most of us moved with Pastor McKenzie to Musimba and Shakahola village.. Here, we would meet on Saturdays under a tree from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Nyongo told The Nation.
“I started to get suspicious. His instructions, which he called messages from God, were not to take our children to school and instead visit church every day to receive life lessons. When I moved to the village from Malindi, I started a poultry farming business, but he was against it. He doesn’t want anyone to get involved in any economic activity or move from town to the center of the city. I became suspicious and quit the church,” he added. Nyongo.
Who is the Kenyan pastor who caused the death of 70 of his followers by asking them to fast until they met Jesus?