How the Masai are being reached

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The ACTS overland truck rumbled into a clearing, a fair distance from the main road, which was nothing more than an overused goat track. The clearing was fairly well hidden in thick bush and would make an excellent campsite and base for the next ten days.

It was about 5 o’clock in the afternoon and the team of 12 American men was tired after the long, bumpy drive from Nairobi to Masailand. Local Masai pastors and translators greeted the team as they climbed out of the truck. It was a happy reunion, as all but one or two of them had been to Masailand before.

The ACTS crew, Daniel, Vincent and John, got to work immediately. Vincent started preparing dinner while Daniel and John, with the help of the team, set up the two-man dome tents, the bush shower and toilet, and collected firewood for the campfire. The campfire has become a very important part of these particular mission trips.

Spaghetti bolognaise, one of the team’s favourite meals, was set out on a long table along with a fresh salad by the time the camp had been set up. The team and translators helped themselves and sat on camp stools around the fire. The team leader gave thanks and everyone ate hungrily and talked about past trips. Once dinner was over and dishes had been washed, the team leader talked through the plan for the next ten days – spreading the Gospel to as many Masai people as possible.

The strategy employed is unique and had worked exceptionally well on all previous outreach trips. The team of 12 men was split into 4 groups of 3, plus a translator and a local guide. Each morning after a big breakfast, the 4 groups set out on foot and headed off in different directions looking for Masai bomas or homesteads. They would approach each boma in a similar manner. The oldest man in each group would ask permission, through the Masai translator, to share a story with the family about God. Because each boma comes under the leadership of the oldest man in the family, he would be the one that the old man in the group would approach. In Masai culture, with age comes authority, and so being approached by an old man is acceptable. Once permission is granted, the whole family (sometimes up to 50 people including men, women and children) would gather around the 3 Americans and the translator. Two members of the group would hold up what is called a “story cloth”, which generally immediately gets the attention of the group. It is a cloth about a meter squared with 42 illustrations on it depicting scenes from the Bible – from creation to the fall of man, to the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. The 3rd man in the group would tell the story with the assistance of the translator, pointing to each illustration as he went along. He would start off by greeting the group and telling them where he was from and that he wanted to share a story about God with them. Most of the time the group would listen attentively and occasionally ask questions. The presenter would show similarities between the old sacrificial system in the Bible and the Masai culture and finally get to the part of the story where Jesus is introduced as Saviour. At the end of the presentation the presenter would invite the group to accept Christ into their hearts. Often the responses were overwhelming.

After the presentation, the group moved on to the next boma. Typically, each group presented to 3-4 bomas in a day, eating snacks for lunch while on the move. At about 4 o’clock each afternoon, the men returned to camp, first freshening up and then sitting around the campfire waiting for dinner. Vincent set out a large bowl of popcorn as a pre-dinner snack, much to the delight of the group.

Each night after dinner the team came together for devotions around the fire, sharing their experiences, reflecting upon the day, and praying together under the majestic African night-sky. This was a special time of bonding and spiritual growth for the visiting mission team, the Masai translators and the ACTS crew, as all shared in this incredible experience and in the wonderful work God was doing among the Masai.

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