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Gun in church: Shock for police in Meru after pastor hands over AK 47 'surrendered' in church

Jesus Winner Ministry Church in Meru town on February 14,  2024. Pastor Nathan Kirimi, who leads the church, said a man had given the church an AK 47 rifle.

Photo credit: Gitonga Marete | Nation Media Group

Police in Meru are looking for a man who allegedly handed over a rifle at a church after claiming to be saved and forgiven of his sins.

On Tuesday afternoon, police were shocked when Pastor Nathan Kirimi turned up at Meru Central Police Station with an AK 47 rifle, claiming the gun had been surrendered by a man who claimed to have received Jesus Christ as his saviour.

Imenti North sub-county police commander Ezekiel Chepkwony said they were taken aback when Pastor Kirimi of Jesus Winner Ministry drove into the police station with the rifle, which was wrapped in a jacket and placed in a gunny bag. 

He recorded a statement in which he claimed that during last Sunday's service, a group of people who wanted to give their lives to Jesus knelt before him and, as usual, he prayed for their deliverance.

"He said after the service, a man approached him and said he had a confession to make; he wanted to surrender a gun," Mr Chepkwony said in an interview with the Nation. The man went into the church compound and left the gun there, he said.

The police boss said the gun appeared to have been hidden somewhere for a long time, possibly buried, as it showed signs of rust.

"There were no live bullets, but the pastor also handed over 17 special blanks used in training or to scare people. But the mystery is that we don't use AK 47 blanks in Kenya," he said. 

An AK 47 rifle surrendered at Jesus Winner Ministry Church in Meru on on February 13, 2024.

Photo credit: Courtesy

Mr Chepkwony said police suspected the man felt insecure after realising security agencies were closing in on him, adding that although they didn't know his identity, he must be a criminal. He noted, however, that Pastor Kirimi was not being treated as a suspect.

"We have also taken the gun to our forensic laboratories where ballistic experts will determine if it has ever been used to fire live bullets. We have also issued a warning to those out there with illegal weapons that their days are numbered," he added.

Speaking to journalists at the police station, Pastor Kirimi said the man told him he had kept the gun for a long time and on the material day "confessed his sins" and repented.

"We work with the security agencies and I was not surprised by the man's confession. We deal with many people, including criminals, and when they come to pray, we seek their deliverance. The man was touched by my preaching and decided to surrender the gun," he said.

"I appeal to those who have weapons to surrender them either to the police or to the church and they will be protected," he added.

This is not the first time Pastor Kirimi has been embroiled in controversy. During the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, the clergyman claimed he did not believe the virus existed, drawing condemnation from some members of the public and health professionals. 

He defied government orders to distance himself from society and close churches, saying the virus did not exist and that his prayers would keep his followers safe.

A few weeks later, however, the pastor was forced to close his church after 46 worshippers, including himself and his wife, tested positive for the virus.