The nomadic lifestyle of East Africa’s Maasai is legendary, but it greatly complicates the ministry of those seeking to share Christ with them.
Although it is possible to build roads in the barren landscape where a living has to be eked out, there seems little point since connecting people requires them to stay in the same area.
Taking the Good News to the Maasai remains a priority though to those who wish to see this tribal group leave behind their animistic beliefs and turn to the one true God.
With that goal in mind, MAF’s team in Tanzania is perfectly placed; the aircraft can provide the necessary mobile support, while the pilots share the desire to see the Maasai come to Christ.
As recently as 20 years ago, there were only a few dozen Maasai believers in the region of Malambo. During the following years, MAF has flown evangelists to the numerous airstrips across this isolated region.
Being Maasai themselves, these mission workers have a much greater understanding of the cultural barriers to the Gospel that their people face.
Now, there are thousands of Christians in the Malambo area and close to 600 new believers were baptised in 2013 alone.
Oloishiro was one of those who came to faith 20 years ago through an evangelistic safari flight to the airstrip at Embalbal.
At that time he was a youth chief, so he was already a man of power. Despite his status, many in his community rejected Oloishiro because of the decision he then took to become an evangelist himself.
Over the years, many young people nevertheless became deeply impacted through his ministry and accepted Christ.
In the second half of 2013, MAF Pilot Andrew Parker received an extra flight request outside of the usual schedule; Oloishiro was seriously ill with a heart condition and needed a medevac to a hospital.
Although Andrew got him to the Selian Lutheran Hospital in Arusha, Oloishiro died soon after.
Even facing death, this ambassador of Christ’s was proclaiming his belief in the afterlife to the doctors, shaking their hands and telling them he was going to be with the Father.
Oloishiro leaves not only his family behind but also a community in mourning. The work to win Malambo’s Maasai for Christ remains too and recent developments have heightened the need to share a message of hope; climate change is undermining the feasibility of their nomadic lifestyle while the government seeks to establish greater land rights and taxation in the region.
To strengthen the foundations of new believers’ faith and continuing their follow-up work among Maasai who come to Christ, the evangelists have recently launched a Bible discipleship course.
Elisha Moita, who is at the centre of the outreach ministry, believes however that the need for MAF’s involvement is greater than ever. 'Most of the Maasai living in this area have no access to any kind of communication network whatsoever... MAF is still needed for deliverance and changes of life,' he concludes.
The Maasai may be a people on the move, but the need to reach them with the Good News doesn’t shift.