“Babu, I just wanted to say I love you, in case you didn’t hear me say that until the other side.”
Tuke is a Kenyan bushman in his late sixties, maybe. He once told me that in the bush, your birthday is like a hyena on the plains—it is out there, somewhere, and only when it wants to pounce on you does it let you know where it’s hiding! He’s started twenty churches and continues mentoring bush pastors in Kenya and across the border in Tanzania near Mt Kilimanjaro. He’s teaching himself to read English.
When he called me, Tuke shared there were 19 COVID cases in his village of 120 people. Several people had died. The government had closed down the closest market village so they hadn’t been able to get food for the past several weeks and were living on a diet of goat cheese. Because of the virus, the government also was not going to send aid to the village. Tuke understands they have to make priorities and a village of herdsmen in the middle of nowhere does not rank as high. He’s not angry.
Tuke called to talk, “just in case” as he said. We have spent several nights together sleeping on the ground outside villages, busting kidneys over what are called roads, and laughing at not-funny jokes as he practices his English.
Babu is a Maasai term for an older man, kind of a grandfather-teacher who you love and respect. I’ve called Tuke ‘babu’ for five years. He’s never called me that. I teared up.
We talked a bit more about life in the village. “Ah, babu, it is amazing, the love of God.” Tuke has been walking to nearby homesteads, ones he has shared life and the gospel with for most of his life. He sits with these friends, talking life and death now. It is somber but penetrating. “Brother, we Maasai have never had an easy life. We are used to droughts and hyenas. But so many people dying has people listening with different ears. So far fifteen Maasai have accepted Christ since the virus.” Tuke said one young Maasai warrior told him, “If I am going to die, it will not be at the hands of the virus, but into the hands of Jesus…”
Yesterday Tuke called. He’s still eating goat cheese and waiting for the market to open sometime this month. A few more people have died. But he continues talking with people. “There are ten huts who have always told me to go away, but now we are talking in them about Jesus. We are discipling them. God is working inside our difficulty.”
Yours for seeing God known
in hard to reach places,