Then in what way will those who have not believed in him call upon him? Or in what way will those who have not heard of him believe in him? And in what way will they hear of him without preaching? And truly, in what way will they preach, unless they have been sent, just as it has been written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who evangelize peace, of those who evangelize what is good! (Rom 10:14-15).
In our Parish here in Simanjiro, the first Holy Ghost Missionaries arrived in the mid 1950s. They began with a primary school and a few people Joined them under the tree for worship. During those days Simanjiro was more or less Dominated by wild animals and not so many people living there.
The misionaries did their best but faith did not take root per say. This was because of deep cultural practices that we largely irreconcilable with Christianity and Catholicism for that matter. Christianity remained only a superficial thing for many decades.
The Holy Ghost missionaries left in the 1980s and the diocesan clergy took over the mission. By the time the Divine Word Missionaries arrived in 2002 things were still in the elementary stage. The faith had remained only in the lip and not gotten into the hearts of many. To make us get a good picture of this is the fact tha for all these years, less than 100 couples have blessed their marriage in the Church and three quaters of these have been blessed during the last 15 years. The culture of the Maasai is polygamous to the core. Our missionaries have done great work to deepen the understanding of the christian values and their benefits to the family.
We have many catechists who help us in the outstations but many of them had not blessed their marriages while a number of them were polygamous. Since last year we have been educating them and preparing them as well as being firm on this. We are greatful to God that many have started embracing it and this year only we have blessed seven marriages. A number of other couples are undergoing marriage instructions that last for 3 months and 30 hours of lessons.
What I have learnt is that people need us to teach them the truth and remain consistent all through. Making exceptions in matters of faith does not help the people to grow in faith but rather makes them stagnant. As missionaries we are called to help people see the light and not to embrace their ways which are against the Gospel.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, svd