Individual /or/ Community

Preparing for my work of evangelization at Olbalbal, I’ve been looking back at the work done by our “founding fathers” here in Maasai country. One of these, Fr. Vincent Donovan, gave us one of the key premises on which to build our work of establishing the church in Maasai country. In his letter of April 1969 published in Missionary Letters of Vincent Donovan edited by J. Bowen, Vince writes:

“… I do not think it is fair to a person to approach him or her on behalf of Christianity outside of and apart from his or her community. If you should succeed in “converting” an individual apart from his community, what you have succeeded in doing is separating him from his community, making him forever an outcast, an outsider to the structure of the tribal community. And this thing that made him an outsider — Christianity — will be abhorrent to the community. You have probably cut off forever the possibility of bringing Christianity to that community. As for him, poor man (or imagine if he is a child), he has two bleak choices: either to struggle and fight against the structure of the tribal community as an outcast, or to give up the Christianity in which he might well even believe. Historically, he has most often chosen the latter course”.

This is one of the insights that Vince offered his fellow Spiritan Missionaries over forty years ago. Since that time in Maasai country, we have done our best to implement his approach and I will do so in my work at Olbalbal.

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