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 last week. While he begged for her 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.”
Mr. 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 Mr. Mackenzie would have it, crucified themselves so that they could meet Jesus.
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