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Kenya refugees sheltered at Baptist school

NAIROBI, Kenya (BP)–Refugees fleeing violence in Kenya have found shelter at the Wayland Baptist University campus near Nairobi, where a visiting professor sent out a request for pain medication as those who were injured had no access to medical treatment, a school official said Jan. 9.

Richard Shaw, dean of the Kenya campus and director of the Wayland Missions Center, told Baptist Press he received an e-mail from Don Ashley, associate professor of religion at Wayland’s campus in Anchorage, Alaska, saying there are “approximately 200 refugees in need of pain medication.” Shaw was at Wayland’s main campus in Plainview, Texas, and Ashley was in Kenya preparing to lead a three-week course.

“I believe the need for pain medication is because there are so many refugees and displaced people that have come to our campus there and are staying either on the campus or nearby,” Shaw said. “He [Ashley] writes, ‘Many of them are injured and in pain and they have nothing in the way of medication.'”

Also, a news release from Wayland’s main campus said students attending the Kenya campus have had family members killed in the violence that erupted Dec. 27 following a presidential election. More than 500 people have been killed in the East African nation, and around 600,000 have been displaced.

In another e-mail, Ashley said the principal of Kenya Baptist Theological College, with which Wayland is a partner, was threatened amid the violence because of the tribe to which he belongs.

“So we’re praying for him and his wife,” Shaw said.

Shaw said he still plans to leave for Kenya Jan. 11 and is scheduled to arrive in Nairobi Sunday morning despite the violence. A new semester is scheduled to start Jan. 14, and so far administrators have not decided to postpone classes. Ashley’s wife and children had been in the country with him but flew out Wednesday.

“I have been overwhelmed by the faith and the acts of our Kenyan brothers and sisters,” Shaw wrote to Wayland faculty Jan. 8. “Coming from different tribes, they have demonstrated peacemaking and reconciliation at every turn, and are indeed setting the example of the living Christ and the ethic He taught and lived.”

The students and Baptist pastors in Kenya, Shaw told BP, have “demonstrated a real witness to Christ and the Gospel by their uniting in the faith, and I think that’s been a real encouraging thing that’s been picked up by a number of international sources there.”

Wayland entered into a partnership with Kenya Baptist Theological College in 1999, agreeing to send professors to Africa for three-week periods to teach classes that students could apply toward associate’s degrees. In the summer of 2003, Wayland presented associate of applied science degrees to 16 students in the first class to graduate from Wayland in Kenya. Shaw said the school now has 36 undergraduate students and 24 associate students there.

About 6,000 students attend Wayland Baptist at the main campus in Plainview as well as at 12 campuses in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Alaska and Hawaii.
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.

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