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Monday, 23 April, 2001, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Aids tests Kenyans' faith
Reverend John Nduati at his Church of God
Reverend Nduati says hundreds have been healed
By Cathy Jenkins in Nairobi

In Kenya an estimated 2.3 million people out of a population of 29 million are infected with HIV - the virus which leads to Aids.

The vast majority of these cannot afford the drugs which help prolong the lives of many sufferers in the West.

Church members
None of the church members can afford Aids drugs
In Nairobi a 26-year-old protestant preacher, who says he can cure Aids through the power of prayer, is drawing hundreds of people to his church believing in a miracle cure.

It is the middle of the week but every bench in the Church of God's Power is full.

A woman who is HIV positive is asked to explain how she got the virus.

I came to this church, the pastor prayed for me and I received my miracle

Reverend Nduati says hundreds like her have been healed and that the negative tests they bring him are the proof.

"A miracle is for everybody," he says. "Anybody can receive a miracle, whoever God loves for his own glory. So if they come, they come perfectly knowing that God can do something."

Only refuge

The day's healing session begins with a young child. He is desperately sick but after a few minutes of prayer Reverend Nduati pronounces him cured.

For the adults with HIV there are just so many that he says they will be healed en masse.

Reverend Nduati 'heals' the churchgoers
Reverend Nduati says devil and disease will de driven out of their bodies
He says the devil and the disease will be driven out of their bodies.

The prayers intensify until he decides the moment has come.

The people who have put their faith in this service range from the desperately poor to teachers and civil servants.

None has been able to afford expensive drugs - this church is the only place that has offered them anything.


For those who believe they have been healed, trust in Reverend Nduati is absolute.

Church members
For many, it is the only place where they can talk about their disease
"Thank God I heard about Pastor John Nduati, that is when I came to this church on 15 November. I came to this church, the pastor prayed for me and I received my miracle," says Janet.

Immunologist Davy Koech, from the Kenya Medical Research Institute, is himself a former preacher, and knows how beneficial a positive attitude can be.

But as a scientist, he also sees danger when someone proclaims to be healed.

"If after that proclamation the individual goes and gets tested only to find that they are still full of loads of viruses in the body, it is not devastating to the preacher, it is devastating to those individuals."

But with no other hope, people are likely to continue to flock to John Nduati's church.

The Aids sufferers here live in fear of being shunned by their communities and their employers

This church is the first place where they have been able to stand up and talk about their disease.

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See also:

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Kenya readies Aids drugs law
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Joy at SA Aids drugs victory
19 Apr 01 | Africa
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Head-to-head: Aids drugs
19 Apr 01 | Health
SA Aids case: The repercussions
19 Apr 01 | Health
Aids epidemic 'underestimated'
15 Mar 01 | Africa
Analysis: Aids drugs and the law
21 Feb 01 | Business
Glaxo offers cheaper Aids drugs
24 Oct 00 | Aids
Aids drugs factfile
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