The Maasai Tribe, Kenya

It’s 6 am here in Nairobi and I’ve been up since 5. Jet lag is a force to be reckoned with. Yesterday started similarly, only by this time our team was eating breakfast to get ready for an early trip to the Maasai lands.

As we left the city, I began to see why we were in Land Rovers instead of our usual
buses. The “roads” outside the city rank somewhere between Louisiana highways and an endless stretch of randomly placed open graves for motorists to die in. Still, we opened the safari hatch and, with great effort, stood looking out over a vast African plain with blurry black mountains in the distance.

The Maasai people are of the most well known African tribes, largely because of the their lack of western influence. They are not even influenced by other Kenyans. Having a long heritage of feared warriors, they have held on tight to their rich culture and traditions, even those we would consider barbaric or worse.

Our day with the tribe included goat milking, goat herding, goat eating, collecting goat waste on goat skins to clean goat pens, turning black African soil in the garden, and intimately experiencing the Maasai culture in ways few outsiders will ever experience. They adorned us with there iconic jewelry, sang for us in their mother tongue, and danced for us as only the Maasai women can. These beautiful people, that most will only see in a National Geographic magazine, welcomed us into their homes and lives.
But amidst all this beauty lies extreme poverty. Many in the Maasai land still live without a continuous water supply, basic knowledge of hygiene and biology, hope, or any idea that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, came down from heaven to conquer the sins of the world. The work Compassion International is doing in this tribe cannot be understated. They are giving children and there families education and opportunities that they absolutely would not have had otherwise. One of the Kenyan Leadership Development Students, Selena, is a prime example of this. She was raised in the same huts (made of sticks and coated with cow dung) that these children live in today and is now graduating from college with a wildlife management degree. She will begin working in the National Wildlife Reserve system soon, protecting the land she loves. Her family is forever released from poverty. I plan on asking her many more questions about the Maasai warriors before I leave, I am completely fascinated.

Read more about them here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_people


The Mathare Valley Slum, Kenya

There is nothing in our American culture, no place inside our borders, no amount of literature or pictures, that can prepare you for the kick to the groin that an African slum offers to the compassionate. Bono does well raising awareness, but it doesn't matter how many times you listen to "Where the Streets Have No Name"; this degree of poverty only begins to make sense when you can feel the heat, smell the human waste as it runs down the narrow dirt paths that serve as streets, see a house of 8 that an American would NOT store his lawn mower in, or have a malnourished child grab your hand as you walk by his house. If you are ignorant or cynical enough to believe (even if only in your own mind) that the conditions here are "not that bad", I would suggest that you not make assumptions about that which you have no context to understand. The conditions here are "that bad" and most likely worse than you've imagined.

But do not be mistaken, our God is on the move in Kenya. After visiting a Compassion project in the Mathare Valley slum today, I could not be more confident that the King of Kings holds the whole world in His hands. Jesus Christ, who came from heaven to take upon Himself the sins of the world, is alive and well in the hearts of many here in one of the most poverty stricken areas in the world.
I don't say any of this to appear wise or cause anyone to feel guilt. I do, however, believe that God has allowed me to experience this great need, so that I could and would speak on behalf of the least of these with passion and conviction. So I will begin now.
God is moving in east Africa and around the globe through an organization called Compassion International. Through one on one child sponsorship, you can break the cycle of poverty through financial, emotional, physical and spiritual investments in their lives. They are by no means the only Christians on the front lines of ministry, but they do offer an incredible opportunity for you, as an American, to impact the nations with the Gospel of Christ.

Check them out at compassion.com.