He Told Followers to Starve to Meet Jesus. Why Did So Many Do It?

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SHAKAHOLA, Kenya — Delirious from hunger, a believer who had brought his family to live with a Christian doomsday cult in a remote wilderness in southeastern Kenya sent a distraught text to his younger sister this month. While he begged her for help to escape, he was still in the grip of the preacher who had lured him there, promising salvation through death by starvation.

“Answer me quickly, because I don’t have much time. Sister, End Times is here and people are being crucified,” Solomon Muendo, a former street hawker, told his sister. “Repent so that you’re not left behind, Amen.”

Muendo, 35, has been living in the Shakahola Forest since 2021, when, like hundreds of other believers, he abandoned his home and moved there with his wife and two young children.

They were following the call of Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, a former taxi driver turned televangelist who, declaring that the world was about to end, marketed Shakahola to his followers as an evangelical Christian sanctuary from the fast-approaching apocalypse.

Instead of a haven, however, the 800-acre property, a sun-scorched wasteland of scrub and spindly trees, is now a gruesome crime scene, scattered with the shallow graves of believers who starved themselves to death — or, as Mackenzie would have it, crucified themselves so that they could meet Jesus.

As of this past week, 179 bodies have been exhumed and moved to a hospital mortuary in the coastal town of Malindi, around 100 miles east of Shakahola, for identification and autopsy. The government’s chief pathologists reported that while starvation caused many deaths, some of the bodies showed signs of death by asphyxiation, strangulation or bludgeoning. Some had had organs removed, a police affidavit said.

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Content retrieved from: https://www.yahoo.com/news/told-followers-starve-meet-jesus-144632495.html.

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