Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Kenya - Open Doors UK & Ireland

Kenya

World Watch ranking: 49
Map thumbnail
Leader
President Uhuru Kenyatta

How many Christians?
44 million (82%)

Main threat
  • Islamic oppression 

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How many Christians are there in Kenya? 

There are 44 million Christians in Kenya – they make up over 80 per cent of the total population.  

How are Christians persecuted in Kenya? 

Although Christianity is the majority religion in Kenya, that hasn’t stopped the spread of persecution. Christians living in and around the north-eastern part of the country must live with the fear that they can be targeted by Islamic extremist groups like al-Shabaab at any time. Particularly, Christians from a Muslim background in the north east and coastal regions live under constant threat of attack—even from their closest relatives.  

Organised crime is also a serious problem. Corrupt officials often fail to take measures against persecutors—increasing the potential for further incidents against Christians. 

In the northern regions, Christian women and girls face verbal abuse and social rejection. They also face the risk of death, abduction or forced marriage if found by al-Shabaab. Women and girls who convert to Christianity from a Muslim background risk being denied custody of their children and of being forced into marriage or divorce. 

Christian men in the north-eastern region face the greatest danger of physical assault and execution at the hands of radical Muslims and al-Shabaab. In past attacks on Christians in villages, only men were killed. 

Meet Ciru

“To all you al-Shabaab guys who have killed my Christian brothers and sisters, I forgive you. Yes, you heard me right. I forgive you. As you fill your heart with hate, I will fill my heart with love—like Jesus did—for truly, you know not what you do.” CIRU

What’s life like for Christians in Kenya? 

Ayaan has a small roadside café in Nairobi’s densely populated and Muslim-majority Kiamaiko settlement. “My café was attacked and vandalised by our Muslim neighbours last year during Ramadan. I was heartbroken and afraid I would not be able to support my children,” she says. 

“They broke my utensils, tables and benches, stole my gas cooker, food and money. My future looked bleak, we struggled to live. But my faith in God kept me hopeful, I knew the Lord would fight for me. Months later, I used my savings to start again and business picked up. We had food to eat and my children could return to school.” 

Because of her faith, Ayaan has been able to forgive her attackers. “When I became a believer, I was taught to be like Christ. I should live like Him, love and forgive like Him; that way, I am a testimony of who He is.”  

“I am illiterate, I cannot read the Bible and since we are unable to attend the church because of the coronavirus pandemic, I gather my children every Sunday morning for house church. We sing and my children read from our Bible; we use this time to encourage each other.” 

Is it getting harder to be a Christian in Kenya? 

Even though the country has dropped five places on this year’s World Watch List, persecution in Kenya remains high. Sadly, violence against Christians has also increased.  

How can I help Christians in Kenya? 

Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Kenya. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost. 

Open Doors partners support persecuted Christians in Kenya through leadership and discipleship training, economic empowerment projects and trauma care.  

please pray

Lord, we ask You to lift up our brothers and sisters living in Kenya. Guide them to find great joy in following You, no matter the circumstances. Please provide for them contentment, strength and the resources they need to be obedient and alive to Your mission. Give them boldness, even in the face of opposition, to show the unconditional love of Your Son, Jesus, to their persecutors. Amen.

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