Isaiah 43:19-21 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.
This prophecy from Isaiah struck me in a new way this week when it came up during our daily devotions… In the week that we’ve been in Kenya, it feels like we’ve seen it come true before our eyes (though I imagine the Prophet had other intentions for it).
During our community visits and a trip to a national park, we’ve seen wild beasts, jackals, ostriches, and life-giving water from the desert. In members of the Maasai tribe, we’ve seen a people formed for God’s goodness and for His glory. We’ve experienced Living Water in a new and life-changing way.
Thanks to a longstanding partnership with the RCA, nine life-giving wells have been drilled in Maasai lands. An old man who had lived through drought after drought was literally moved to tears when he saw how much water could be found underground.
And yet, it’s not solely about having access to clean water. It’s also about telling people that there is a well that will never run dry. A well that provides water to quench eternal thirst. A well called Jesus.
There is no doubt that the Spirit is on the move among the Maasai people. In the last 10 years, over 8,000 people have given their lives to Christ - nearly 100 churches have been planted! The same man who cried when he realized the power of a water well, also gave his life to Christ — The Living Water.
It really does seem like God has big plans for the Maasai people. Historically, the Maasai are among the most violent tribes in Kenya. A Maasai will tell you that the British were too scared to fight with them during the colonial years, so they befriended the Maasai and helped the Maasai fight the other tribes. A Maasai will also tell you that all the cattle in the world belong to their people (look out, my Iowa farm friends), so that when they rustle cattle from another tribe (and oh boy, do they rustle), they’re really just taking back what belongs to them.
And yet, God can change even the hardest of peoples, the hardest of hearts.
I’ve written before about the Gospel’s ability to complete and perfect culture, and this is so true here in Kenya. When God’s people see His plan for their community, they run toward that Water with all their might. They tell their friends and neighbors about it. They bathe in the scriptures and seek to grow in their faith. God is using the Maasai people’s fierceness, their determination, their passion to bring the entire community to Him — to continue to preserve not only their traditions, but also His Good News for generations to come.
Thanks to the gift of the water wells, they can do just that. These wells draw from deep underground reservoirs and should pump water for over 100 years. The Christian families formed today will impact this tribe for even longer. When the Gospel is preached in ways that are clear and culturally relevant, many lives are changed and God is glorified.