Pastor Shot Dead While Praying in Trinidad

Monday, March 26, 2007

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

MORUGA, TRINIDAD (ANS) -- A 34-year-old pastor was shot dead while he was praying with others in his church on Wednesday, March 21 at the St. Mary's Village of Gomaz Trace in Moruga, the southern sea town in Trinidad.

Kevin Austin , the pastor of the Independent Assembly of the Mantle Sword of the Spirit (IAMSP) church was brutally murdered early in the morning at the galvanized shack, which is being used as the worshipping Center and his family's home.

Some members of the church told Salem Voice Ministries News Service that the leader knew his life was in danger and had written to Patrick Augustus Mervyn Manning, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, asking for police protection.

Austin and several other church members were praying at 5 a.m. when, unexpectedly, two armed men wearing black wigs entered the church and introduced themselves as police. They ordered the people to lie on the ground and asked "Who is Pastor Austin and let him be stood up." Then Pastor Austin stood up and identified himself. Immediately they shot him with two bullets through his head. He died on the spot.

Pastor Austin, his wife Natasha Austin, their two children and some of the believers recently started their mission at Gomez Trace in Moruga. Before that they were in Erin.

The congregation consists mainly of young people, including a few infants, and a three-month-old baby, were also among them.

The Austins and their congregation occupied a three-bedroom galvanized house, which was without electricity, telephone or even running water. Apart from the house, there were two small tents outside the building where Austin and another adult were sleeping separately.

"Pastor Kelvin Austin was a dedicated man of God. He founded the IAMSP about five years ago. He used to be called 'Leader.' His vision was to establish Gospel villages by trained people from a young age. That's why we started a mission here," his wife Natasha told SVM news service.

"We go wherever our Lord sending us. The Lord sent us here, so we came," Kimberly John, 19, one of the members of IAMSP, said about their ministry.

Sean Reyes, another member of the mission, said he knew about the letter Austin had sent to the Prime Minister asking for police protection. But when questioned as to how Austin knew someone was trying to kill him and why, Reyes replied that the information came from God.

Local people in Gomaz Trace said they know nothing of Pastor Austin and his church, because "we don't keep much contact with new residents."