"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
Community 3 is a place of deep poverty- poverty in resources, poverty in food, and poverty in Spirit. Seven-plus tribes live in this one community, and they all differ in culture somehow, creating barriers against unity in the Body of Christ. One tribe in particular is the Masai, where boys are raised to be warriors and girls are raised to be married off as young as the age of twelve. They are strict in their beliefs and don't follow anything halfway--they're either all in or all out. Therefore, ministry is difficult, but those that follow Jesus follow Him with utter abandonment of the things of this world. The Rejoice Project leaders I met and worked with this past week in the community taught me more about following Christ than anyone I have ever known. In a place that is so dry, I never expected to meet people that are so rich. God is surely using them to pour out springs of life into the rest of the community.
I saw this first hand during my first home visit. I had the privilege of going to a traditional Masai home belonging to one of the Rejoice Project leaders. My group was greeted by a 55 year old Masai warrior, multiple wives, and about ten children all under the age of five. As I looked around at the tiny menyattas (houses), I couldn't help but wonder how all of those people lived day to day in such small spaces without complaining. My heart not only broke for their poor living conditions, but also for the children that surrounded us. Their faces were covered in snot and flies, and they didn't even bother to swat the flies away, probably because they're always there.
We went into one of the menyattas and sat down to talk with the Masai warrior who had greeted us. His name was Sipai, and he was the father of one of the Rejoice Project leaders. Sipai practiced polygamy and was very set in the traditional beliefs of the Masai culture, including severe punishment for sin. All ten of us squeezed into the menyatta along with hundreds of flies swarming us. At first, I selfishly could not wait to get out of there, but as we started talking with Sipai about Jesus, nothing was hindering us. The Spirit of the Lord was so very present in that 6x6 room with mud walls and flies sitting on our faces. We began asking Sipai about his gods and he said that he sees his gods and our God as equals. He told us if he already believes in something good, he needs to hear something better if he's going to change his beliefs. Oh did we have something better to tell him! We read scripture to him and told him that in Christ there is no condemnation like there is with his gods, and we told him that even as sinners, the Lord loves us and wants to renew us. He couldn't believe these things, and he said he wanted the grace-giving God we have and asked how to receive Him. We talked some more with him, and Peter, our RP Coordinator, prayed with him while the rest of us rejoiced. Glory be to God for a new brother in Christ!
God is building His kingdom in community 3, and He is showing me how powerful He really is. If God's only purpose for bringing me all the way to Africa was to see that man come to Christ, it was all worth it. God is so much more than I ever thought he was. If he can bring a Masai man in the middle of a rural village in East Africa away from the strongholds of his culture and into the arms of Jesus, how much more can he change the hearts of the rest of us.
Though the workers are few in community 3 because of the strong ties to tribes, the harvest is plenty and God is transforming lives and cultures. My prayer is that through Rejoice Project He would continue to change generations, all for his glory, and that community 3 would be a land that proclaims Jesus' name louder than any other name. In community 3, culture runs deep, but the presence of God runs even deeper. He's making all things new, and He's providing streams in the wasteland.