Does the word “indigenous” mean anything to you? It doesn’t to most people. The basic meaning in Webster’s dictionary is “native, or inborn.” Last year I came across the “Indigenous” people of Chiapas Mexico. This people group are what we tourists know as Mayan Indians. However, the locals call themselves the “indigenous.” The reason being that they wish to distinguish themselves from the rest of the Mexican population. Ask a Mayan if he is a Mexican and he will let you know he is not! They prefer being the Indigenous because of ethnic distinctions from their Mexican neighbors. Yet they are a part of the Mexican nation. Interesting-huh?
We have some people groups like that in Africa where BWM serves the Gospel of the Kingdom. There are many tribes and tribal customs one could call “indigenous” because of their “native and inborn” customs. Another characteristic of indigenous people’s is that they are isolated, and closed cultures. They are very slow to assimilate into modern ways of life. We see this on the upper reaches of the Amazon rain forests, in the Pygmies of the DRC (Congo) and many other places where modern culture is rejected and native historical behaviors are respected.
Thus, I introduce you to the Maasai people of East Africa. There are over 100,000 Maasai living in very primitive conditions in culture clusters of Kenya and Tanzania. For centuries the Maasai have resisted change and adaptation to Western Culture. When missionaries came to East Africa in the mid 1800’s, they had almost no success reaching the Maasai. I first encountered these people in 1975 when I first visited Kenya. My missionary friends were trying to reach the Maasai people but with little success. Over the last 40 years some progress has been made and there are now thousands of Maasai who know Christ. Although this is a wonderful thing, it is also true that only the indigenous can effectively reach the indigenous. The Maasai are still an “unreached” people group.
In the last eight years, BWM has planted about 15 churches among the Maasai people of Kenya. It has been a slow and arduous task due to culture, language, and the close mindedness of the Maasai Elders. These eight years have convinced me that only the Maasai can reach the Maasai. God has given us “a few good men” we can train and mature to do the vast mission of reaching the indigenous Maasai people’s of both Kenya and Tanzania. Our vision is to equip many young Maasai warriors to do evangelism and discipleship among their own people. Using our technology of solar powered video/sound systems, motor bikes and evangelistic films we can send teams of Maasai evangelists into village after village in the next few years. God has promised us that He will go before us in this big adventure.
I will leave in mid-April to spend 5 days in training of 65 Maasai men. Our goal is to find 10 of these who are equal to King David’s mighty men. We can then further equip them to be missionaries to their own people. Going out two by two, we will send them wherever the Maasai witness for Christ is nonexistent or weak. They will reach their own people in a vastly more effective way than the “white man’ could ever do. I invite your prayers and financial support for this great assignment God has given us. May Christ be glorified among the indigenous-the Maasai!