Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Rendille People: A look inside a remote tribe of Kenya

     The Rendille People live in the Northern part of Kenya on the border of Ethiopia.  They are a people group who resisted Islam as it charged south many centuries ago down the eastern part of Africa.  Instead of accepting Islam, the tribe kept the traditions of their ancestors which included many Jewish traditions and customs.  For example, the Passover is a feast which is celebrated among the people.  Today, the Rendille tribe numbers around 60,000 people.  As far as the Christian world is concerned, they are an unreached people group.  The Joshua Project currently lists the Rendille as unreached.  You can go and learn more about them by visiting this website. 

     Our neighbor, who is an AG missionary and Vice Chancellor at the theological seminary here in Kenya, has been leading teams out to the Rendille tribe.  Last year, he took a team of people and spent several days out in the area with the tribe and went out witnessing to the people.  As a part of the follow up and attempt to get the Rendille off the unreached people list, he invited Andy and Patrick to go on the survey trip to count how many people who gave their hearts to Christ were still attending church.

   The trip, like the Pokot drive, proved to be exhausting.  The guys loaded boxes of rice, cases of water and fuel barrels on the roof rack of the land cruiser.  Before they reached the villages, 8 men were crammed into the car for the journey.  At some points during the trip, they drove for hours without seeing another car on the dirt road.  Large herds of camels surrounded by men with machine guns appeared on the road in the desert.  Camels bring in a lot of money up in the North.  A camel can go 2 weeks without water and brings in $1,000 for his owner.  When the guys passed a herd of 100 camels, they were watched by the guards intensely.  Other tribes in the area are known to raid the camel caravans and steal the animals.  

     The land where the Rendille people live is harsh.  When I saw some of the pictures, I thought  the landscape looked like  where Luke Skywalker grew up in Star Wars.  Rocks litter the landscape.  As far as rain is concerned, it has not rained for 3 years.  Have a look at a few pictures.

Those round domes are the homes of the people. 

A Rendille Man

A small village

Kids gathering

On the trip, the gas stations could be up to 8 hours apart.  This man ran out of gas so the guys stopped and allowed the guy to siphon a few liters of gas they were carrying as back up.

Look at the bead work on their necks! These ladies arrived at the church for an impromptu meeting and received rice packets donated by Convoy of Hope.

What is your drive to church like?  This is the walk to church for most people in the desert.

Do you see the rocks behind the children?  That is the landscape for miles and miles!

I had to include this photo.  While the men were visiting a pastor's home, they sat in this room.  The wall behind the men seated on the sofa is made up of pillow cases thrown away by the airlines.  You know those thin cases covering the pillows you get on the airplane?  Well, not everything goes directly to the landfill. 

The people gathered to praise the Lord.

Welcome to church in the middle of the desert.

When your shoe breaks, you have to fix it.  This man decided that the time to fix his broken shoe was in the middle of the sermon.  He found a good rock and was working hard to repair the damage. 

     I think pictures speak better than words.  However, I have one last story to tell about the people.  In one village, the people have a well as a source of water.  Villagers walk for miles to come fill their canteens, plastic jugs and such.  They leave early in the morning from their homes before it gets so hot and begin their journey.  The pastor told the group of visiting men that many people in the surrounding villages have developed throat cancer, mouth cancer and other forms of cancer lately.  Suspecting the water, which is the common factor, scientist came out and ran tests on the water.  When the results came back, it was not good news .  The levels of mercury and arsenic in the water was at dangerous levels.  The poison was naturally occurring, nobody was contaminating it.  Imagine getting up every morning and walking to  your only water source.  Every step you take closer to the well, you know it is a step that brings you closer to death.  Yet, if today you don't go get water, then you'll die faster of thirst.  Digging a new well is costly.  Digging a new well anywhere in the region won't work because all those poisons are in the ground.  It breaks my heart to think the people are in that situation.  Please pray for protection for those villagers.  Please pray God provides a solution soon. 

1 comment:

  1. Stacey,
    I don't think I'll ever complain about our drive to church again. Thanks for putting things into perspective and making everything truly come alive for me. We love and miss you and can't wait to see you all again. Anne