Left for dead
Pastor forgives gang members who nearly killed him
Henry Likove does not appear to be a man with a traumatic story. The pastor of Nairobi's Highbridge Baptist Church smiles easily, laughs freely. It is not that he has forgotten the shock of Dec. 20, 2008. To the contrary, he has pondered it often. Pondered his steps down the rutted road away from the church. Pondered the fact that at about 3:00pm--in broad daylight--thugs appeared from nowhere, surrounded him and grabbed his laptop and other belongings.
As residents of the slum neighborhood looked on, Henry was punched, kicked, and then stabbed in sixteen places all over his body.
The unconscious pastor was taken to a local clinic and then a hospital where he hovered between life and death. It was two weeks before he could leave the hospital.
That's when the real drama started.
The gang members that assaulted Henry were identified by community residents, charged and arrested. In Kenya, attempted murder is punishable by hanging.
"I had made up my mind," smiles Pastor Henry. "First I reached out to the parents who came to me to ask forgiveness." Next, Pastor Henry dropped all charges and the attackers were released.
The pastor's rationale? "We need to reach out to them because nobody has reached out to them."
And Henry was confident he could do just that. "Since I had been to an Awana training, I knew how to reach out to them."
Henry immediately returned to his work at the church.
Most of the teen thugs started attending services. Some of them asked forgiveness, received Christ and then went through the Awana program. They've since been baptized and today are Awana leaders!
What's more, these former gang members now routinely accompany Pastor Henry, acting as his personal security detail. And word of this "Amazing Grace" story has spread throughout the community, opening closed doors and closed hearts for the gospel.
The unassuming Henry looks back on the experience with a big smile saying, "I'm the person God might use to bring change to this place."
To this observer, there's no "might" about it. Henry already has.