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Abstract

During the COVID-19 pandemic, cases of gender-based violence (GBV) dramatically increased. While the Kenyan governmental bodies are held responsible for their inadequate response to this “national disaster of GBV”, the role of the Kenyan churches is hardly criticized. The churches neither spoke out against this prevalent injustice, nor did they openly support the victims of GBV. Furthermore, it could be argued that churches, through their patriarchal structures and cultural and doctrinal teachings, have contributed to this disaster. This article is written from a woman’s perspective and focused on the notion of vumilia, or perseverance, an important notion in the lived faith of women. Vumilia is the Kiswahili word for “persevere” or “endure.” It appears that a gendered vumilia theology applied to gender relations, prevents churches from adequately addressing gender-based violence. Unless and until this vumilia theology is deconstructed and balanced with a liberation theology, the church’s response to gender-based violence will be superficial and insufficient. In this article, the narrative method is used to bring about the ideas and experiences of women in two Kenyan churches, the Reformed Church of East Africa (RCEA) and the African Israel Nineveh Church (AINC), related to vumilia and its cultural and theological underpinnings. The article discusses the teachings of vumilia theology in these churches and their effects on women who suffer from gender-based violence. The paper also traces the resistance of church women, indicating the contours of a woman-affirming Christ-centered theology and spirituality.

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