In a shocking turn of events, police in Kenya have uncovered at least 73 bodies believed to be victims of starvation from shallow graves in the country’s coastal region. As reported by Al Jazeera, the alleged mastermind behind this “massacre” is none other than controversial preacher Pastor Paul Mackenzie of Good News International Church.
Mackenzie has been no stranger to controversy since founding his church in Malindi back in 2003. He has faced allegations of encouraging children to quit formal education and has even claimed prophetic powers, saying he has seen apparitions of Jesus. In 2019, he closed the church and moved with a few members to Shakahola in Kilifi county after claiming to receive a revelation.
The Fast to Meet Jesus
It was here that Mackenzie allegedly indoctrinated his followers, instructing them to abandon their jobs, drop out of school, stop eating “worldly food,” and not seek medical treatment when sick. They were also told to destroy all government-issued documents and meet on Saturdays under a tree for “life lessons.” According to police reports, Mackenzie said the fast would only count if they gathered together and offered his farm as a fasting venue. They were not allowed to mingle with anyone outside the cult if they wanted to go to heaven.
The government began its rescue mission on April 13 after two children died from starvation and suffocation on March 16 and 17, allegedly on Mackenzie’s advice. Investigations led authorities to Shakahola, where they found 16 emaciated people, four of whom died before reaching the hospital. At least 73 bodies have been exhumed so far, while 27 people are being treated for severe malnutrition. The search continues for survivors, some of whom are still refusing to eat.
The Pastor’s Response
Mackenzie was arraigned in court on March 23 and released on bail. He surrendered to the police on April 14 and is currently in custody pending investigations. He has refused to eat since his arrest, but neither he nor any of his representatives have spoken to the police this time around.
“I am shocked about the accusations placed before me,” Mackenzie said after being released on bail last month. “I closed my Good News International church in Malindi in August 2019, and it’s important for people to accept that.”
Blaming the media for misquoting him and taking his words out of context, Mackenzie added: “The other time I made a sermon on earthly education being evil, and I was taken to court for telling children not to go to school. This was not the case. It is a prophecy, and it depends on how you take it. I can preach, but I do not force the teachings on anyone.”