Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

For pastor’s wife, Kenya crisis hits close to home

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Saturday morning’s prayer for peace in Kenya during Reaching Hearts International’s service had special meaning for Diana Oxentenko, wife of Pastor Michael Oxentenko.

Diana Oxentenko spent her teenage years living in Kenya at what is now the University of East Africa, Baraton, where her father, Jon Green, was one of the Seventh-day Adventist school’s first professors. The university is about 45 minutes from Eldoret, site of some of the worst ethnic violence following Kenya’s recent, contested presidential election.

Green, who now lives in Tennessee, forwarded an e-mail to the Oxentenkos from a current university student, detailing the recent threats of violence to the campus. Michael read a portion of it to the congregation.

‘‘It’s just devastating,” Diana Oxentenko said following the service. ‘‘I think about all of the students.”

Debbie Herold of Beltsville lived in Africa for 14 years, most of them in Kenya as director of nurses of Kendu Adventist Mission Hospital in Kendu Bay, about an hour away from Eldoret.

‘‘It’s really sad to see what’s happening over there,” she said. Her friends in Kenya are ‘‘in shock,” she added.

Herold’s 17-year-old adopted son, Jeremiah, still has family in the country. The two have discussed the situation. ‘‘It’s very tough for him,” she said.

But Herold said she believes the violence will soon dissipate, giving way to a peaceful resolution.

‘‘Kenyans can agree to disagree,” she said.