Learning from the Maasai

kenya wayland

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email

Isaac Olonapa grew up small villages in the southern half of Kenya. As a child, he cared for the cattle, goats, donkeys and all the other animals the family owned. Isaac describes his father as wealthy because he had 700 cows and 300 goats.

“My father had 7 wives and many children with each,” he recalled. “However, he died when I was very young.”
After his father’s death, the livestock and wealth was split between the seven wives, but a long drought plagued the area, killing off all the animals. During this time, Isaac lived with his birth-mother with three brothers and four sisters. Isaac was the youngest of the children and the only one to go to school.

The Kenya Wayland campus

“Being Maasai, none goes to school,” he explained. Education isn’t important within the Maasai culture, because everyone in the family must do their part to keep life going, from farming, to raising cattle. Each individual has his or her own task they must do for the good of the family. “I have learned that it is important for children to get an education,” he said. “Cows are temporary. An education last forever.”
Isaac marks Jan. 9, 1999, as the date of his spiritual rebirth.

“I had just heard the gospel preached. I didn’t respond to the invitation. I was confused,” he recalled. “As I was walking home, I felt the Holy Spirit grab me. I fell to my knees, face in the ground. I cried as I talked to Jesus. He had shown me I was a sinner. I confessed my sins and continued to talk with him as I continued to cry for the next few hours, until after the sun set. In that moment, I gave my life to Jesus Christ, and I have been growing in him daily ever since. I now know the truth, and I walk in truth with confidence in Jesus Christ, my Savior.”

Isaac has been a pastor of a church in his home village since Oct. 9, 2004. His congregation has grown to 160 members, all Maasai. He notes he is the husband of one wife, and he has been called by the Lord to preach the truth of Jesus Christ to the Maasai people. He notes spiritual strongholds imbedded in the Maasai culture—the use of witchdoctors to communicate to a deity on behalf of the people and making sacrifices during times of drought in hopes of rain. Isaac speaks truth, explaining to them that Christ is the perfect sacrifice.

“Christ paid it all. He was the end to the sacrifices of animals,” Isaac passionately preaches. “We have really seen a change on in my land. The word of God is being spread, but there are still remote places in Maasai land that the gospel has never reached.” 

Lack of transportation makes it difficult to reach many of these places, “but my hear cries out for my people, and I pray the in God’s perfect time, we may able reach the entire land with the good news of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Isaac’s testimony intersects the conversion experience of Moses Parsoi.

Moses was working as a watchman in Nairobi at about 1 a.m. when he recalled hearing a voice saying, “Moses, Moses, it is good to change.”

Sign up for our weekly email newsletter.

Frightened and skeptical, he ignored the voice. Two weeks later, he was attending a prayer meeting held for his dying father.

Pastor Isaac Olonapa, happened to be in the area and felt compelled to go comfort the mourning family and pray with them.

“Isaac brought the word of God,” Moses said. “And it was at that moment, when the gospel was preached that I heard the voice again: ‘Moses, Moses, it is good to change.’” Captivated by God’s grace, Moses surrendered and gave his life to Christ.

Before Moses’ father died, Moses was able to lead him to Christ. On his deathbed, he told his son: “The best way to go is to follow God. You will never be put to shame.”

Moses and Isaac, two Maasai men, saved by grace through the faith in Jesus Christ, have now devoted their lives to reaching anyone and everyone they can. Their mission is to see all of Maasai Land come to Christ. They both live 30 to 40 kilometers from civilization, deep in the bush in order to reach the unreached. Pray for them and their ministry as they’ve voiced their prayers for us in America.

Al Johnson from the University of Texas at San Antonio is a student missionary correspondent with Go Now Missions.

We seek to inform, inspire and challenge you to live like Jesus. Click to learn more about Following Jesus.

If we achieved our goal—or didn’t—we’d love to hear from you. Send an email to Eric Black, our editor. Maximum length for publication is 250 words.

More from Baptist Standard

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email