“Now, it’s our gospel!”

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Eddie and Rachel Andersen live in Dukana, sharing the gospel with the semi-nomadic Gabbra people, who have been fairly resistant.

One big breakthrough that Eddie and Rachel have witnessed was after organising an ethnomusicology seminar in Kalacha, where songs based on Scripture were written in the Gabbra language and style. When people heard the gospel in their own language they really started to identify with it. The elders of the church in Kalacha said, “Now we can share the gospel! We didn’t feel confident about how we could share it before; it was your gospel. But now it is our gospel.” Gabbra believers began to evangelise, going from village to village singing the songs in their own language and sharing the gospel, and people really started to listen. The whole Bible was translated into the Gabbra language, and Eddie and Rachel started to give out audio recordings on MP3 devices, along with the Scripture songs. Some of those devices have travelled for miles, to places the Andersens have never been, picked up by herdsmen who come to town, who then take them with them and share them with others.

Another project that is run from the Andersens’ base in Dukana is Chalbi FM, a Christian radio station that broadcasts over a 70,000 mile area, covering many different people groups. Barako, Mwambi and Gollo, who run the radio station, broadcast Christian music and news in eight indigenous languages. As this is the only radio station available in most of that area, they have a large and captive audience – they even get Islamic traders listening in. Everybody loves listening to the radio!

Who are the Gabbra?

The Gabbra live in the northernmost part of Kenya, 89,000 people spread out over a large area of land. One of their biggest needs is water, as rainfall is low and unreliable and many places may not get any for years. They herd camels, which are more resilient in the harsh conditions than cattle or goats, and are semi-nomadic, often having to move around to find grazing.

The gospel has been very slow to take hold among the Gabbra. Traditionally, they worship a god called Wak, who is omnipotent but also distant. In order to please him they sacrifice animals and follow many customs and rules. After the first missionary arrived, it took 15 years for a Gabbra person to accept Christ. After 35 years of ministry there were 70 known believers, and now, 10 years later, there are about 200. A lot of the resistance is because for the Gabbra, they know that when they accept Christ they have to stop following some of their cultural traditions.

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