My name is Bariki Olesingo Laiser. I am from the Maasai tribe and I came from a family of one husband, 3 wives, and at least 23 children. My mom is the first of my father’s three wives, and I am the first born in the family. My grandfather married 8 wives and had 30 children, 70 grandchildren, and 100 great grandchildren. He was a chief in our Maasai community and he was very much highly respected in the whole community. He died in 2009 and my father succeeded him as chief by inheritance right, although my father lost the people’s respect after he became a Christian.
I grew up in the village looking after my father's cattle and later on I was taken to school. I used to worship the gods of my father, including certain kinds of trees, huge stones, witch doctors, etc. When I was in my earlier classes, we had one guy who use to come to our school and teach us the word of God; he began telling us that there is a true God who is called the Creator of heaven and Earth. He also used to sing a song that says God is love, He loves us, we were lost into sin, but Jesus came to save us from sin. I was so touched by that story and I wanted to know about this God who is the Creator of heaven and earth.
From that time when I was in class six in my primary school, I started attending a certain church in our village; I used to walk 15km per day going to church and returning home. Later on when I joined secondary school I attended Christian fellowship and was elected to be one of the leaders in that fellowship. When I finished my secondary school I met one little girl who witnessed to me, imploring me to receive Jesus in my life as my personal savior. However, I refused by claiming that I know him, for I even sing kwaya (choir) in our church. She kept on saying all that you do for him doesn't matter, because he wants you more than for what you do for him. I felt angry and I wanted to fight her but I left and went back to my home village. Since that time the little voice of that little girl kept disturbing my ears until I thought I was going crazy.
One day I woke up and felt no peace in heart at all and I began feeling like I am going to die soon, but that little voice of little girl told me I should run to church, give my life to Jesus, and that I will be safe and not die. I did so and I went to a Pentecostal church and I asked, “Where is the priest?” They were shocked--a priest? “Yes a priest! I need to be prayed for!” I was asking for the priest because where I came from was a Roman Catholic background so I thought it is only priest/father who is supposed to pray for people. They asked me, “Do you want to receive Jesus?” I said, “Yes and please pray for me very quickly!!” They were amazed and said, “Oh, maybe the little boy is going to die, so pray for him quickly.” I had been led to the Lord when I said “Amen!”
After I received Jesus, I began to enjoy an amazing peace in my life and began telling people about this Jesus whom I received. However, people didn't like it, so they started backbiting me, cursing my life, and rejecting me; I looked like an outcast to the whole village. My family rejected me, as did my relatives, my friends and everyone. I was chased away from home and life became so difficult to the point that I felt like I have made a wrong decision in following Jesus. When I had nearly given up, hopeless and not knowing what what to do, then God spoke to me so clearly that I made the right decision and am not alone for he is with me (Joshua 1:5).
From that time the word of God had encouraged me and I started working in faith. Later on I joined a Christian Organization called Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and did a program called DTS (Discipleship Training School), which has been incredibly helpful for my life. In this program, I learned many things about God and people, I learned how to hear God's voice, and God started speaking to me about going back to my own village to minister to my own people and community. At first I did not want to return to my tribe because I was hurt by them when I got saved, but God told me I should FORGIVE everyone who had hurt me, even my own parents and relatives. God told I should love them the same way Jesus had loved me even when I was a sinner.
Although I did not know exactly what God wanted me to do for the community, I accepted God’s call to go. So after my Discipleship program, I went back to my village and started gathering children, singing songs with them, and began sharing the word of God with them. After sometime, two women started joining us but they were stopped by their husbands. They stopped children as well and they told them that I am crazy so they should not following me. The kids were told that if they kept following me then they would be beaten, and of course they did beat the kids because they didn't stop.
After my ministry stopped for a while and I went back to serving the Lord with YWAM, one day I took an outreach team for mission in the Coast province called Tanga to reach out to Muslims. When I was spending time to hear from God, immediately God gave me an amazing vision! I saw a very big house with HORN SPEAKERS as well as a banner with the English words: THE POWER OF PROCLAMATION!
Since at that time I did not understand English and did not know what it meant, I went to one of my staff and asked her, “What does this mean?” After she explained it to me, I went back to God and asked what it meant. In the beginning my friend and I thought that maybe God was speaking to us about the Muslims to whom we were reaching out. But God told me that this particular vision was specifically about the MAASAI PEOPLE. God wanted me to go back and start a church in my village, and after building a church I must even put horn speakers outside of the building so that people who are far can hear his word when we are preaching and praising Him.
God confirmed this through my friend who is a pastor who gave his life to the Lord through hearing people singing from afar, after which he started going towards where they were. He told me there is power in PROCLAIMING as he showed me the speakers on his house. Also he told me that Muslims do so five times a day in their community calls to prayer, which powerfully affects many people, even though they broadcast a language that many people doesn't understand. Such a practice demonstrates that there is power in DECLARING!
I WANT TO DECLARE THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST
I went back to the village and began the gathering again; eventually people started gathering together in one place under the tree, and we started our church there with a few people who love the Lord. As we had Sunday fellowship under the tree, over the next five years God was visibly on the move as many people were coming to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many were saved, many were healed, and many were set free. As all this was happening, God started opening Maasai girls’ minds and they started doing well in school. Girls who were at home started saying, “I want to go to school,” and others refused to be taken as brides when they were young. Maasai men exchange their daughters with cows as they force them into marriage when they are still 12, 15, or 16 years old. Little ones being forced into child marriage ran to the church or to me as a pastor to ask for help. I talked to their parents but they never listened; I had talked to the leaders in the village, but they never took this matter seriously.
I had talked to the government officials but they were very much corrupt. I even involved the lawyers but they were all corrupt; each one needed money that I do not have, so I did not think it was right to hire them. When I had almost given up, God told me I should not give up because He is with me. Then I found a small rescue center downtown in Arusha and I met a guy called Aristides Nnshange, who is a social worker. He advised me very well on the matter and even took three girls into the center.
Later on in the village, people started coming against the church just because we were helping girls go to school. “We don't need this church here, nor the pastor,” they said. They tried to bewitch me through the witch doctors but it failed. Another time, they bribed the police and I was taken to jail, but by the grace of God I was guiltless so I was out of jail. They tried all kinds of ways to harm me, but their attempts failed; they even wanted to kill me but it failed. Then the whole village held a very big meeting where they planned to stop the church gathering. They told each other to never allow one’s wife nor children to go to church or they will be killed. Although some of our church members have never stopped coming to church, the majority were so scared that they have not returned ever since.
In the year 2015, in December we held the first Gospel Crusade Meeting in the village. Many people gave their lives to God, even young Maasai men (Morani) and many women as well. As a result of this, after those young men came to the Lord, the church was encouraged and many people started coming again to church. The Maasai men were not pleased with this, so they again tried stopping people from coming to church. But as more and more people continued coming into the church, the Maasai men decided to change their strategy, since all the ways they had used to stop this people were not working. Now they decided to use more intimidating measures against the churchgoers in order to beat them and make them suffer. So on Sunday, January 10, 2016, the Maasai warriors came into the church while the people were worshipping, and they started beating people with sticks, swords, and knives. Many women were very much hurt, my mom being one of them.
Many kids were very much hurt. The few men that we had were very much hurt and were abused in the front of their wives and their children. I had to hide my family somewhere in a neighborhood church because they wanted to kill my wife and children and myself. But God had protected us, and we thank God that we are all alive and still keeping the Faith. After the persecution had occurred, many people were so afraid so they stopped coming to church anymore. I was so discouraged and felt like that was the end of the church, but God had told me that I must keep the Faith and keep PROCLAIMING and DECLARING the good news.
In December, 2016, we had our Second Maasai Gospel Crusade. Yet again, God moved so mightily to the point that people in the village were so shocked that they said, “This church is UNSTOPPABLE!” Before that we had one of the young warriors give his life to the Lord, although he had died later on due to a throat cancer. It felt so bad and sad that we lost him, but the Lord had encouraged us to keep moving in Faith.
Since that time, we did not have land for the church building and we were using the YWAM compound. Maasai men had sworn that they would never give this church a land, but by the grace of God, in May, 2017, God had moved the village chairman’s heart to call me. He said, “I am going to call the village government so that we give a land for the church.” Maasai men wanted to refuse, but they said to themselves, “Let us give them the land, because in a few years we will take back our land because they will not be able to build it. For this church is a women’s church, and they are not able to build the church.”
After we were given a land, within three months God had opened the heavens and built His church. We were all surprised at the ways of God. God’s faithfulness and provision for the church building had surprised many people in both the entire village and in the church. Now the church is growing rapidly. Men came and gave their lives to God; even those who were our enemies have come to Jesus! The Lord is good and we are all SPEECHLESS!
To become a different church that will express Jesus’ love through generations in Maasailand and beyond
To preach the sound doctrine and bring the truth of God which will change people's lives both spiritually and physically
To become a voice for the voiceless Maasai girls and women
To empower people to rise up and fulfill their destinies by knowing God's purposes in and for their lives
To run a Gospel Crusade Meeting at least once a year and three seminars per year to fulfill what the Lord had spoken to me as a way of DECLARING the good news
To plant churches all over Maasailand areas and beyond
To have a Bible college that will help Maasai people to learn more about God and sharpen their lives and ministry
To train young people who will go on mission and affect change in their community and beyond borders
To train people in entrepreneurship and business, so that they move well in their normal lives!
Written by Bariki Olesingo
Edited by Steve Derenge