27 September 2017 // Articles & Stories

How is God reaching the Dorobo?

Connected to prayer

This article was first featured alongside our Prayer Diary in October 2017. You can download the October 2017 prayer points here or sign-up to receive future editions by post or email.

The Dorobo are a group of hunter-gatherers, living in the highland forests of Kenya. Traditionally they live by collecting honey and hunting wild animals with poison arrows and spears. Until 1991 the Dorobo, also known as the Okiek, were unreached by Christianity and barely touched by the outside world.

God’s Word is sweeter than honey

Tell my village about Jesus

Mary Letiet is a Dorobo woman married to a Maasai man. Mary came to faith in Christ whilst living away from home. When her husband died, she returned to Ilkirragarien. Our team had been praying for this area for two years, but hadn’t been able to visit because of bad roads and local clashes. Mary was the only Dorobo Christian there and asked us to preach and start a church. We agreed.

On our first visit about 20 people came to listen. We came again a week later and told the story of Genesis, focusing on how Adam had fallen into sin. We told them we would keep coming and share a series of Old Testament stories before telling them about Jesus. But as we finished, one young man named Lempapa raised his hand and asked if he could become a Christian. I said, “No”, it was too soon. We hadn’t told the full story yet. Lorna Eglin, our missionary partner, nudged me. Could we really refuse this young man if he wanted to accept Christ? I gave a brief overview from Adam to Jesus, pointing out our sin and need for a Saviour and how Jesus had paid the price for us. Then I asked the young man if he understood and still wanted to become a Christian. He said he did. I turned to the group and asked if there were any others who wanted to believe. To our surprise almost 30 people came forward to confess their sins and prayed with us to become Christians. A church started that day because Mary Letiet had a burden for her neighbours to know Jesus and called us in to help share the word.

AIM missionaries Shel and Kym Arensen carried out a fact gathering survey among the Dorobo  in 1991. They found only a handful of believers among the approximately 40,000 Dorobo who lived in scattered villages. At that time no church from neighbouring people groups was involved in reaching out to the Dorobo. Moving to live among the Dorobo, the Arensens, together with Kenyan missionary Silas Bargokwet, began making friends, often through joining Dorobo men on honey collecting expeditions deep into the forest. In 1992 they started telling foundational Old Testament stories in three different villages. By 1994 the first six believers were baptised by Pastor Bargokwet in the Keringet Forest. Shel Arensen baptised ten new believers from the Eburru Forest in 1995.

South African missionaries Lorna Eglin and Betty Allcock joined the team in 1996 and a year later the Enosotua Dorobo Centre was started in Naivasha to disciple the growing number of new believers. These Dorobo Christians learned to share their new faith with their communities, as well as how to read, pray, preach, teach and lead the churches that were starting under trees.

By the year 2000 there were over 20 churches among the Dorobo villages. Len and Vera Russell from England joined the Dorobo Outreach ministry and helped spread the gospel to the Dorobo community among the Samburu in northern Kenya.

Building his church

Now, the Arensens continue to work with the Dorobo churches, discipling church leaders and sponsoring them to attend Bible colleges for further studies. There are now over 25 trained pastors and six more in Bible College and almost 30 churches have been planted. The Dorobo have moved from being listed as an unreached people group in 1990 to being a community with an active church that is reaching out and bringing others to Christ.