Doomsayers see doom out of the hole

Nairobi, Kenya - The doomsday cult that prophesied the end of the world in September last year is still clinging on to its pessimistic view of the future, though it has since edited the prophesy to suit the fact that this sinful world is still here.

House of Yahweh, a little-known cult, grabbed the headlines at around this time last year after prophesying that the world was in imminent danger of being wiped out in a nuclear war.

Its members retreated to holes in the ground and wore gas masks.

September 12, 2006 — the mother of all doomsdays according to the House of Yahweh — came and went without the firing of a single nuclear missile. The sect immediately moved the day of reckoning to June 2007 which also, in total defiance of the prophesy, passed quietly.

Last week, the Sunday Nation caught up with 50 followers of the sect gathered for their Sabbath service in a member’s house in Murungaru area.

The congregation consisted of 25 elderly people, 12 young men and women, and 13 children.

The sect was adamant that nothing had changed about their predictions of a nuclear war, only that the prophecy was misunderstood by Kenyans. They accused the press of distorting the text of the prophesy — and setting the police on them.

“What actually happened is that a ‘nuclear baby’ was conceived on September 12, 2006,” a sect leader who identified himself as Brother Yahshasphat Gitonga told the Sunday Nation.

The group still insists that the world is on the verge of a nuclear war — in the course of which four out of the world’s six billion people will be killed — but is now a little hesitant about naming the big day.

“You can bear us testimony that since last year, there have been unceasing wars in various parts of the world,” Mr Yondas Watuku Njuguna, another sect member, said.

Two sect members were summoned by police officers and provincial administration officials in Nyahururu town for interrogation over their beliefs and prophecy.

Police officers and senior administrators also visited homes of some sect members in Murungaru area where they conducted a search.

Mr Gitonga said that the fact that none of the members was prosecuted was an indication that the Government found nothing fishy about the sect’s activities.

Mr Njuguna joined the sect 12 years ago while working in Nairobi before he relocated to Murungaru.

“Yahweh will not completely destroy the world as only an estimated four billion people out of the world’s six billion population will be burned with nuclear fire for engaging in sin. The rest will join in Yahweh’s kingdom,” Mr Njuguna said.

Brother Gitonga added: “Only two billion people will come out of this great tribulation. Even Christians say that the world will come to an end and that God will punish evildoers. Why should we be accused of causing alarm amongst Kenyans? The other day we saw a Christian leader predicting that Nairobi would be hit by an earthquake due to people’s sins.”

When the Sunday Nation visited last week, they were deeply engrossed in prayer and reading the scriptures.

Their prayer session normally starts at around 9 a.m. and continues up to 3 pm every Saturday.

“You have just ambushed us without prior communication or arrangements. We will only request you now to join us and listen to our teachings,” one of the members said.

Mr Gitonga also read from some pamphlets authored by the sect’s only pastor, Yisrael Hawkins, based in Texas in the United States of America.

The sect’s holy scriptures contain the same number of books as the Bible. But members believe that the Bible was distorted by scribes, translators and theologians.

“Our translation of the holy scriptures entitled The Book of Yahweh is the closest to the oldest known Hebrew manuscripts,” Brother Gitonga claimed.

Their pastor, he said, is a Hebrew and gets the real meaning of the scriptures from the original manuscripts and the scrolls.

The members say they are actively involved in their undertakings and working around the clock to earn daily bread. Mr Gitonga said that Yahweh had commanded that lazy persons should not eat.

Unlike their counterparts elsewhere, the Kinangop-based sect members did not retreat to the safety of the bunkers.

“Ours is a religion and not a doomsday cult as widely believed,” said Rachael Wanjiku Gitonga, a member.

The teachings of the House of Yahweh, she said, are based on the prophecy of their USA-based leader and Yahweh’s laws of morality.

Brother Gitonga explained that there were 613 laws of Yahweh, which members are expected to observe to the letter.

Their preferred greeting word is shalom (peace). But their version of the story of creation is a significant departure from the Christian teaching.

“Contrary to what many have been made to believe, Yahweh did not create woman from the man’s rib but rather he took bone and flesh from the man’s side and made a woman to be a helpmate for man,” Brother Gitonga explained.

The followers also do not believe in Jesus Christ, whom they refer to as messiah, and do not celebrate Easter holidays.

They believe in messiah ‘Yahshua’ who died on a Wednesday.

The sect also has a different calendar in which April is regarded as the first month of the year during which they celebrate the Passover feast.