Lazarus and the “Black Stone”

Earlier this week we had a meeting with the people at Loongoko. The subject of our presentation that day was the “Raising of Lazarus from the dead”. This story always elicits a lot of discussion, and initially draws laughter and derision. How can this fellow (me) expect us to swallow this one? It was bad enough when he came telling us that we shouldn’t hate people of other tribes and even help them when they are in trouble. (That was the teaching around the story of “The Good Samaritan”.) But now he comes saying that Jesus raised someone from the dead. He tells us that Jesus brought a body back to life that was rotting in the tomb for four days. The story of the Good Samaritan was far fetched, but this one about Lazarus is totally weird. Most Maasai haven’t been to school but we’re not stupid!

In the midst of this heated discussion an elderly lady ran up screaming that a woman had just been bitten by a snake. The Good Samaritan and Lazarus were quickly forgotten as we all followed her to a nearby village. We found a terrified woman, whose foot was already beginning to swell. Some one among us had a “black stone” and a couple of small cuts were quickly made at the site of the wound and the black stone applied. A young man of the village quickly wrapped the foot, securing the stone in place. The “black stone” is a remedy that has been around for years. Carefully applied and tightly secured, it very often is quite effective in drawing out the snake poison.

The Raising of LazarusGood SamaritanWe bundled the young lady into my car together with her mother and husband, and quickly reached the Serengeti road just a mile or two away. A tourist car, headed up the mountain to Ngorongoro Crater, stopped at our frantic waving. They graciously agreed to take the snake bitten woman and her relatives to the government clinic located near the crater. A couple of days later found the woman cured and back in her village. It seems that there was no anti-venom to be had at Ngorongoro but the “black stone” seems to have helped her. Since poisonous snakes are common in Maasai country, we’re never without a “black stone” in the car.


The people of Loongoko are still debating about Jesus restoring to life the man who rotted four days in the grave. We’ll be returning there in a couple of days to talk further of Lazarus.

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