Ministering to Nairobi’s Gays and Lesbians

Rev. John Makokha, the founder and Senior Pastor at the Riruta Hope Community Church, and his wife Anne Baraza (Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili)

Alarmed by the number of members of the clergy resorting to hate, oppression and discrimination against gays and lesbians, one pastor has opened the doors of his church to Nairobi’s outcasts. The Rev. John Makokha is risking his position and reputation by welcoming gays and lesbians into the Riruta Hope Community Church, but feels he has no choice.

The Kenyan penal code regards homosexuality as a crime, and Christian and Muslim clergy speak clearly and forcefully against it. In this environment, Makokha ministers to sexual minorities and counsels family members who find their loved ones’ sexual orientation disturbing.

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His passion is to see an end to what he calls “religious homophobia”; this requires reaching out to other religious leaders. To that end, he runs educational awareness seminars on human sexuality and gender identity. 

“Gays and lesbians are children of God and created in his image,” Makokha said. “They should be accepted and affirmed as such. They deserve a place to worship and serve God.”

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