Dangerous. Powerful. Threatening.
That’s how he described what he saw. It was a book that would threaten his influence and his authority. He wanted to keep it away from his people, to keep it out of his community. He saw it in a vision, this dangerous book that would jeopardize his power and change his nation. The book he saw would change his life.
The book he saw was the Bible.
Chief Maasai Loibon is the highest authority in the Maasai tribe, a nation of more than 2 million people spread across Kenya and Tanzania. They are known for their loyalty to their cultural traditions, including their signature colorful clothing and elaborate jewelry. Decades ago, the Maasai men were fierce warriors, hunting lions and protecting their sacred cattle, but now the group is more peaceful.
The tribe is dominated by the males. Men are considered kings of their households. Polygamy is widely accepted. Girls are bought and married off as teenagers. Women and children are considered property.
The Chief governs alongside a group of Loibons who act as the spiritual leaders to all members of the tribe. The Chief is a descendent of the tribe’s most famous prophets, including his great-grandfather who predicted the arrival of the British long before they stepped foot in Africa. He uses his prophecies to warn the community of impending danger or prepare them for coming good fortune.
Years ago, the Chief had a vision of a red book. He didn’t know what the book said, but he knew it was powerful. He felt threatened and warned the tribe that it was dangerous, knowing that it could jeopardize his authority over his people. Years went by and no red book came. But no one forgot the vision.
Last year, Bishop David Letuati, a Maasai pastor, partnered with Bible League International to bring Bibles, resources, and training to the Maasai people. These Bibles, with their deep red covers, trigged memories for the tribe members.
Stories of the prophecy began circulating through the tribe. The people were hungry for the Word, but hesitant because they remembered the prophecy of the red book and knew their leader was against it.
It would take a miracle to change the traditional mindset of the tribe. Especially the Chief.
As Bibles were being distributed through Maasailand, Bible League International staff asked to meet with the Chief to hear his vision firsthand and see the process of getting these Bibles to such a remote group in Africa. As they made their way to Kenya, the staff prayed for the best but prepared for the worst. They had no idea how the Chief would react to the organization responsible for introducing the Red Book to his tribe.
When the visitors arrived, the Chief began to retell his prophecy, detailing what he saw. Then, after years of fearing the red book, the Chief changed his mind.
In one casual, matter-of-fact statement from the Chief, he gave his blessing to more than 2 million people to welcome the Bible into their lives. His sudden change of heart was an unprecedented breakthrough. The Maasai people will now eagerly embrace the Bible to follow the Chief’s lead, opening doors for God to move across Africa.
In just a few short months, massive change has happened across the Maasai tribe. Men, women, and children are now studying the Word of God together; for women to be allowed to study is groundbreaking, but to study alongside men is unheard of.
Women are also seeing the detriment of their lifestyle and leading their daughters to a different direction. One Maasai woman said she will never allow her daughters into polygamous marriage, pushing instead for education.
Because the Maasai people are such a loyal group, they will now show this same loyalty to the Word of God. The introduction of the Bible and Project Philip Bible study materials will not just change individual lives, but it has potential to change the course of a nation of people hungry for the Gospel.
When the Chief received his Bible, one of his sons watched eagerly and took a Bible for himself. The 85-year-old Chief is grooming this son to be the next leader of the Maasai nation. It is our prayer that his son would take the influence of the Red Book and rule his community with Jesus Christ as the center, bringing hope and salvation to this storied tribe.
The Maasai people are now in need of more Bibles, more training, and more Bible study resources. You can help spread the Gospel across this land. Your support of Bible League International will put Bibles and resources in the hands of people thirsty for the Word of God, seeking guidance and hope in their lives.
Help us share the Good News across Maasailand, across Kenya, and across Africa.