Good News International Ministries

A grim narrative of misplaced faith and control, ending in a catastrophic loss of life under the guise of reaching spiritual enlightenment.

Origins and Evolution

The Good News International Church, established by Paul Nthenge Mackenzie in 2003 alongside his wife Joyce Mwikamba, started as a modest evangelical congregation in Kenya. Initially, the church aimed to offer a spiritual haven, but under Mackenzie’s guidance, it soon adopted a radically different trajectory. The church’s teachings were deeply rooted in the End-Time Message of William Branham, an ideology that has influenced various religious movements worldwide but is particularly noted for its apocalyptic fervor and distinct theological claims.

Doctrinal Core

Mackenzie’s sermons and the church’s doctrine were heavily influenced by a complex mix of Oneness Pentecostalism and the controversial “serpent seed” theory. This latter belief, which posits a dualistic origin of humanity involving a literal interpretation of the Biblical account of Adam, Eve, and the serpent, became a cornerstone of Mackenzie’s teachings. Such ideologies often serve to create a stark us-versus-them worldview, fostering an environment ripe for radicalization.

Additionally, Mackenzie’s teachings included a profound disdain for Western culture, viewing its advancements and lifestyle as morally and spiritually corrupt. His messages were filled with anti-Western sentiment, targeting education, healthcare, and even basic necessities and leisure activities, framing them as distractions from spiritual purity and divine purpose.

The Path to Tragedy

The church’s descent into tragedy began to accelerate in early April 2023 when reports emerged of followers being found in dire conditions or deceased within the church’s commune in Shakahola Forest. This commune, ostensibly a retreat for spiritual purification through fasting, was the site of a horrifying discovery: emaciated individuals and mass graves, the latter containing the bodies of followers, including numerous children, who had been led to starve in a misguided quest for divine union.

Investigations revealed that Mackenzie had orchestrated a systematic plan of mass starvation, purportedly to prepare his followers for the apocalypse. This plan was executed in phases, prioritizing children, followed by women and young men, and concluding with the remaining adult members. Mackenzie’s insistence on isolation and his teachings against conventional medicine and education further severed the community’s ties to the outside world, leaving followers vulnerable to his manipulative practices.

Legal and Societal Repercussions

The discovery of the mass graves and the conditions of the survivors prompted immediate action from Kenyan authorities, leading to Mackenzie’s arrest and the classification of the Good News International Church as an organized criminal group. Charges of murder, child torture, and terrorism were leveled against Mackenzie, highlighting the severity of his actions and the profound impact on the victims and their families.

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