A story of the Gabra people in Kenya
John sat on the airplane staring at the magazine article in front of him.
“How in the world, Lord?” he kept praying over and over again. “What have we gotten ourselves into?”
Pastor John was flying from Kenya back home to South Africa. His church was waiting for him to hear how they could move forward in helping to reach the last remaining unreached people groups of Kenya.
John loved his peoples’ heart, but would their desire ever become a reality?
He had gone to Kenya with high hopes and sophisticated strategies of evangelism and now here, lying on his lap was a magazine article that shifted everything into perspective. The article was about the Gabra people of Kenya.
The Gabra tribe was one of the unreached tribes that John’s church desired to reach with the gospel.
But this article explained that the Gabra was a nomadic people, never staying in one place for more than three months. They herded their livestock and lived in tents, which they packed up and carried on their camels’ backs. They were difficult to find, difficult to track, difficult to communicate with.
The article continued to explain that, for their food, the Gabra milked their camels and then mixed that milk with the blood of the camel. They tapped the blood out of the camel’s external jugular vein and mixed it into the milk and then drunk it. And that’s how they survived.
So, as John read the article about the Gabra, his only question was, “How?” How could his church actually hope to plant self-governing, self-sustaining, gospel-centered churches amongst a nomadic, blood-and-milk drinking, difficult to find, and difficult to appease people?
But God had laid this people group on their hearts. Eventually, John and his church helped to start Live Schools throughout Kenya to train local Kenyan believers as missionaries who would then focus on reaching these unreached tribes.
Fast-forward twenty years.
John sat in Northern Kenya in the home of a man named Elias. Elias is a Kenyan believer who works as a missionary. As John and Elias ate and discussed recent developments, suddenly another man burst into the dining room, grinning from ear to ear.
As soon as the man came into the room, John knew he was a believer. This man was covered in dust and covered in the presence and joy of the Lord. His eyes shone with freedom and purpose.
Elias immediately got up and greeted the man with a hug.
“John!” Elias said. “This is my brother and friend. He has been out in the desert herding for the past three months but praise the Lord, he has just returned to the village!”
“That’s wonderful!” John replied.
“John,” Elias continued, “this man is a believer.”
“Well, I figured,” John said with a laugh.
“Oh, and John, this man is from the Gabra tribe. And John, right now there are churches all throughout the Gabra people!”
And suddenly, the words and questions from that airline magazine article came flooding back into John’s mind. Gabra. Nomadic. Never staying. Always going. Blood-and-milk drinking. Difficult. How do we plant churches?
Tears formed in John’s eyes. Yes, God had, through Kenyan missionaries, saved many and planted churches amongst a difficult, nomadic, blood-and-milk drinking people.
Yes, John realized, God is in the business of building his Church amongst the craziest, hardest places and peoples to find on earth.
“John,” said the Gabra man, “many of our people are now being trained through Live School so that we can be missionaries ourselves.”
So, yes, the Gabra may still drink blood and milk for sustenance. They will probably never want to stop being nomadic. But as they pack up their camels and go, many of these believing Gabra will also carry with them the gospel.
The Gabra missionaries will now go on to the next tribe, and the next tribe, and the next tribe, preaching the gospel to the furthest ends of Kenya…and beyond.