Good News International Church (Paul Nthenge Mackenzie)

A Kenyan cult, which convinced hundreds of followers to commit suicide

(2003 - 2023)

Paul Nthenge Mackenzie (leader)

In 2003, Paul Nthenge Mackenzie formed a shadowy cult in the remote reaches of Shakahola, Kilifi County, Kenya. 20 years later, this obscure group shook the world with one of the largest mass suicides in history.

Mackenzie’s ministry began when he worked as a taxi driver in 1997. His radical sermons repeatedly caught the attention of the authorities, but he was acquitted each time due to lack of evidence. As he gathered more followers, he officially started his church and became a full time preacher, convincing his followers that he had a direct line of communication with God. His cult continued to grow, with members giving him everything they had so that they could devote their entire lives to him. Soon, he was able to take his message to the airwaves, allowing him to rake in even more followers.

As his influence continued to grow, Mackenzie found himself in legal trouble again in 2017, facing charges of promoting radicalization and depriving children of their basic rights to health care and education. After children in the cult were found dead the following year, 93 children were rescued by authorities. However, Mackenzie was allowed to continue leading his followers. Over the following years, Mackenzie faced increased opposition from community leaders and was charged with further crimes, but maintained the loyalty of his devoted followers. Eventually, he declared that he had shut down his cult, but in reality, had simply moved his followers to a remote location, away from the public eye. 

The full extent of Mackenzie’s madness went unnoticed until April 2023, when a man reported that his wife and daughter went to the commune and never returned. When police investigated, they found 15 severely malnourished members, four of which died on the way to the hospital. All these members had been trying to starve themselves to death, believing that it would allow them to meet Jesus.

The more police investigated, the more they realized just how morbid the cult was. Over the next three weeks, they found more members who were severely malnourished and a seemingly endless number of shallow graves filled with the bodies of several members, mostly children, who died of starvation. A few of the bodies also showed signs of strangulation, suffocation and blunt trauma. Digging up body after body, they had to halt their search as the death toll was reaching ninety, because the morgues were full. Yet this was just the beginning. As of the time of this writing, over 400 deaths have been confirmed, with over 600 people reported missing. MacKenzie and other leaders are currently in police custody, awaiting trial.

Religion: Christianity

Denomination: Branhamism

Founder: Paul Nthenge Mackenzie

Founded: 2003

Ended: 2023

Location: Shakahola, Kenya

Size: 3,000

Also called: Good News International Ministries; Servant P. N. Mackenzie Ministries; Shakahola cult; Malindi Cult

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