Visiting Africa was a dream trip of a lifetime for me. I enjoyed experiencing the culture, food and the geographic beauty of the second largest continent. The people I encountered were very friendly and hospitable. In Dakar, Senegal, I visited one of our churches there for their first-ever National Youth Service. I loved the enthusiasm and excitement they exhibited in their worship! As the congregation was singing, a minister from Nigeria led several young people in a line dance around the church. There was such freedom and liberty in their sincere worship to God.
Nestled in the midst of the poorest and largest slum area in Africa, the Kibera Orphanage and School in Nairobi, Kenya offers a place of beauty, security, light and hope to precious children who otherwise would have no hope. I was privileged to attend a special worship service there. The children from the orphanage and neighboring schools did an outstanding worship performance for the program.
In Nairobi, most all of the school children wear uniforms and seem eager to learn. During worship services, they love to dance and sing songs both in the English they have learned, as well as their native language. It was evident to me that they loved God and loved to worship Him. The church people seemed so proud and thankful that we were there to visit and made us feel so welcome. They are a precious group of Christians that are anxious to learn more about God and value His Word.
While traveling through areas of the cities, it was heart-breaking to see the level of poverty that existed there. In the markets, there were many very poor people trying to earn money and buy whatever they could to survive. It was intriguing to me, that even in the midst of extreme poverty, that most of the women were attired in beautiful, bright-colored African dresses. They carried heavy loads upon their heads, and babies were tied to their backs with long scarves.
A highlight of my African trip was a visit to the Maasai Village in Masai Mara. There, the Maasai tribe of people still cling to the traditional way of life they have had for centuries. They are very simple, primitive people, even though many are educated. They live in small houses made of grasses, wood, mud and cow-dung. It is very dark inside with only a small opening for wood smoke to escape. The men dress in the traditional “shuka,” which is a red robe, usually a type of plaid material. The women also adorn the very colorful African dresses. The village itself is surrounded by large, thorny brushes of limbs and sticks to prevent attacks from the wild animals that roam freely in the area. At night, the Maasai people bring their livestock into the safety of the village compound before they close the “gate.”
The children attend school with other children from neighboring villages in a building outside the compound. Like most children, they love to play with balls. I captured a video of a young boy who was making a ball out of plastic bags tied with string. He enjoyed kicking it attempting to keep it in the air as long as possible.
The young men, including the chief’s son, performed the traditional song and dance that the Maasai warriors did before they went on a lion hunt. In the past, to prove his manhood, the young Maasai warrior had to kill a wild lion with a spear. Nowadays, the lions are protected by law, but the dance is still done as part of their traditional culture.
We met and actually talked to the Chief of the village through an interpreter, and told him how we served God. It was inspirational to hear him tell how this “God” had healed his leg once.
While in the same area of Maasai village, I went on a safari at the Masai Mara National Game Reserve in southwestern Kenya along the Tanzanian border. I was awed at God’s creation in this part of the world. The absolute beauty of the savannah wilderness was amazing! The landscape has grassy plains and rolling hills with the Mara and Talek rivers flowing through the massive area. Our visit was during the time of the annual migration of Wildebeest, and the plains were filled with hundreds of them. I saw animals in their natural habitat that I had only seen in zoos: Elephants, zebras, and cheetahs, lions, giraffes, monkeys, hippos, hyenas, buffaloes to name only a few. One evening, after a lovely African sunset, there was a full moon. A billion stars and five planets shone around me in the vast night sky. I stood in wonder at the beauty and creativity of God.
One day, I watched as a huge, male lion strutted from his resting place in a tall grassy area. Every animal that was in visible distance (especially a herd of antelope), immediately came to a standstill and “froze” in place. They sensed and knew of his mighty power and strength over them; for he IS the “King of the Jungle” in their eyes, and could destroy them at his will.
I couldn’t help but think of how in the Bible, Christ is referred to “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” Christ: My strength; my protector, my advocate, my King—who came not to destroy me, but to save and redeem me and to destroy that which the enemy sends to do me harm.
“…Stop weeping! Look closely, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome and conquered!…” Revelation 5:5 (AMP).
A wonderful trip to Africa halfway around the world made that truth more real than ever for me.
For more information on our ministries in Africa, visit cogwm.org/projects/missionaries-to-africa.