A mall in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, became an unlikely site of terror last Saturday.
Al-Shabab, an Islam extremist group, launched a four-day, bloody siege in demand of the withdrawal of Kenyan troops from Somalia.
Grenades were thrown.
Shots were fired.
For four days, the extremists held hostages until Kenyan forces intervened.
By the end of the conflict, the carnage acccounted for 67 civilians dead and 175 wounded.
According to the Associated Press, the mall attack was the deadliest terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 al-Qaida truck bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, killing more than 200 people.
For Americans, living in the land of the religiously free and nearly 9,000 miles away, geography makes it easy to remain detached from such horrors.
But for Christians, the attack is in our own backyard, it’s a call of concern for a globally growing trend in religious terrorism.
Grown in the 9/11 era, our generation has seen a rise in similar attacks and felt the consequences that followed.
We have faced the effects, such as changing airport and weapon regulations. But rarely must we face how terrorists’ “acts of faith” coincide with our own.
“We have an adequate number of young men who are fully committed and ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of Allah and for the sake of their religion,” said the al-Shabab press office.
Faith-based feuds are not an issue that died out with the Crusades, nor will they be simply solved with the signing of a peace treaty.
We are presented with a challenge in separating these religious acts from our own faith.
It’s a divine dilemma to practice “loving your neighbor” towards those who carry out violent missions made in the name of another god.
Additionally, we must recognize attacks, such as the Kenyan killings, pose a threat not only to Christians, but also to members of its own religion who practice peacefully.
“This is not a Kenyan war. This is an international war. And we need to join hands and work together,” said Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
On Wednesday, Kenyatta declared three days of national mourning, a grieving we also should partake in.
Because, as Americans living 9,000 miles away in the land of the religiously free, we must not become passive to the horrors happening both statewide and worldwide.
Christians must continue to do the impossible and love our neighbor as ourselves.