Published: 00:00 GMT Standard Time - Friday 06 December 2013
Evangeline Mataria (c. 1952)
Witness to the End
Evangeline, a Christian who lived on the north-east slope of Mount Kenya, was led to her death by her own brother, a member of the Mau Mau.
Following the death of her husband in 1949, Evangeline had taken over the care of his shop, which her brother wanted for himself. One day he said that he wanted to meet her to give her some profits from the shop, but it was a set-up, since he knew that members of the Mau Mau would be there to try to persuade her to take their oath.
When she was asked to swear their oath, Evangeline defiantly refused, “Never! The blood of Jesus has changed my life, and his blood can never be mixed with a goat’s blood!” The Mau Mau were angered by this and pushed her out of the house, threatening to kill her. They tried to make her neighbour, Ezekiel Ntombogori, persuade her to take the oath, reminding her of her children. Evangeline, however, stood firm and entrusted her children to God’s care.
Some of the Mau Mau then took her to the forest where she told them about Jesus’ death on the cross and the offer of forgiveness. Her words touched two of them, who held back while the others led her to a grave, again threatening death if she did not take the oath. They tied her in a cloth and threw her to the ground. She called out to God to forgive them, at which point they strangled her and hurled her into the grave.
The two who had been moved by Evangeline’s words also witnessed her victorious death; they deserted the Mau Mau and went to the British authorities to report the murder. Evangeline’s neighbour Ezekiel also deserted and became a Christian. He and others confirmed to the police the names of Evangeline’s killers, who were arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.
Heaven will pay for any loss we may suffer to gain it; but nothing can pay for the loss of heaven.
Richard Baxter (1615-91)