The Forgotten Ones of the Forgotten Ones
"When you can put your Church on the back of my camel then I will think that Christianity is meant for us Somalis." This is the challenge that one missionary faced in East Africa. It is, also, a challenge that the Church must face if we are going to reach any and all of the nomadic peoples of the world. It is not only the Church that we will be challenged to contextualize, but all of life, for anything that is not mobile is foreign to the nomad. What Christianity looks like when it finds a nomadic home will seem strange and foreign to us westerners. But, for a people that survive by leading cattle and other animals from place to place for subsistence, it cannot look like it does for us in America. Nomads are found in East Asia, Central Asia, India, the Middle East, and throughout Africa, and they are indeed the forgotten, hidden, and ignored peoples of the world.
It was the nomad who carried Christianity across the Sahara and throughout North Africa. It was also the nomad, once forced into Islam, who saw the message of Mohammed cover the same land. They are a strategic people. They can remind the rest of the Church what it means to live as sojourners on this earth, and their lifestyle of travel allows them interaction with a variety of peoples. Some nomadic groups will travel well over a thousand miles from winter to summer camps, and along the way, they will have opportunity to share the hope that they have in Christ, if they ever get to hear of it.
Recently, the Fulani People of North Africa have asked for teachers to come and teach their children. Do you know who they made this request to? A Christian mission agency. The request was made almost a year ago, and yet, no one has volunteered to live with and teach the Fulani people. The Fulani are a proud people, perhaps the people least likely to ask for outside help, yet God has opened this door. Will we find someone to walk through this open door?
What is certain is that God will not rest until all of the nomadic peoples know Him. The end of this age will not come until this happens (Matthew 24:14). They have been overlooked for well over a thousand years. We have gone to their North and their South. We have crossed their deserts and sailed around their coasts, all in an effort to reach other peoples. Their time is now. The time for the nomad is today.
It will not be easy. We need Christians who are physically fit and spiritually strong. What does it take to live among, build friendship with, and travel alongside of a nomadic people? It takes commitment and a pioneering spirit. We all have one life to live. For someone who wants to reach the nomads of the world, they have decided to go somewhere that other missionaries are not willing to go. They have decided that if God is passionate about reaching EVERY SINGLE ethnic group, then they will go to the ones that are untargeted by others.
Will you pray for nomadic peoples? Will you ask God to send laborers to them? Will you volunteer your life to God and live and love a nomadic people? It will not be easy, but Jesus is worthy.
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