From the creator of this website
Last summer in July, 2016, I spent about three weeks in Arusha, Tanzania, on a Cru summer mission to high school students (1). Here we stayed at the base of another missions organization called YWAM, where I was very blessed to meet their staff, many of whom are pastors.
One such pastor I enjoyed connecting with is Bariki, who comes from the Maasai tribe. The Maasai people are largely animists who worship trees, rocks, and other objects in nature believed to contain spirits.
It was a great blessing to hear Bariki’s story and to get to know him and his ministry throughout my time in Arusha. Particularly, I could relate to some of the ways Jesus intersected his life. As a student, he attended meetings and played a role in communicating with other students about who God is and how they can know him. Although he took pride in his knowledge of God, God used the words a young girl in her late teens to convict him that he didn’t yet know as God he ought to know.
This girl implored him, “Oh, my brother! Give your life to the Lord.” Although as a man he felt dishonored by this small girl’s audacity to imply that something was lacking in his relationship with God, the girl’s voice repeated in his head and would not go away! One day, in desperation he came into a church and demanded to speak to “the priest.” “You mean the pastor?,” the church members replied. They further asked Bariki what was going on with him and they helped lead him to pray, asking Jesus to become the Lord of his life.
Since that day, Bariki lived out a new identity, having been made a new person. Filled with love for his people, he intentionally seeks to lead them into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Even at the cost of death threats, beatings, and persecution, he acknowledges that he is already dead. When his own father, the chief of the tribe, threatened to kill him for his faith, he respectfully addressed him as he replied, “I’m already dead. How can you kill someone who is already dead?”
Bariki’s father has since entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ. As the pastor of a Maasai church in Tanzania, Bariki continues to guide his people closer to Jesus, working diligently to bring other Maasai people into God’s kingdom. Likewise, he risks personal safety as he rescues Maasai women from early, forced marriages, giving them the chance of a better future as they understand their value and freedom that comes from a relationship with God.
Such was part of a wonderful summer marking my final assignment of leadership involvement with the missions organization of Cru. The semester before, God had led me to transition to a new student ministry at the University of South Dakota. I am continually grateful for the wonderful ways God has developed me through Cru staff people over the years, and continue to bless Cru staff around the world as they follow the Holy Spirit in surrender to God's will.
[Photo accessed from Facebook, Nov. 13, 2017]
August 6, 2016 · Edited · View on Instagram
The man on the right in this photo is my hero & the hero of so many others. Bariki is a man of the Maasai people who was expected to take several wives & treat women as objects.
But God had a different plan. He used a young woman to tell Bariki about the love that God has for him & for all of us, so he chose to dedicate his life to the Lord. This decision, however, came at a huge cost. When Bariki went to tell his father, who is the man on the left in this photo, that he had started a new life for God, his dad told Bariki he was going to kill him for becoming a Christian. Bariki ended up escaping death by the grace of God & became an exile from the community he was born and raised in.
But the love he had for his people was enormous. He has now dedicated his life to ministering to the very people that have tried to kill him several times. He breaks his culture by eating with and showing respect to women. He continually risks his life helping young Maasai women escape their homes, so they can go to school & have hope for a future.
When asked if he is afraid of death, Bariki always responds, "No. I am already dead. It is Christ who lives in me."
📸: Evan Keil
— with Lauryn Elizabeth and Bariki Olesingo.