The closed border between Tanzania and Kenya – caused by Covid-19 – has stopped Christians from the Maasai people group fleeing to escape persecution. The closure has also blocked trade and food supply, affecting people across East Africa. Your support is helping meet a desperate need.
Trade and food have been cut off and the place of refuge for persecuted Christians blocked. The border between Tanzania and Kenya is a lifeline for the small but growing church in East Africa’s Maasai people group, but due to Covid-19 it is has been closed.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the knock-on effects of the pandemic have been greater than the virus itself, exacerbating existing challenges already faced by Christians.
In the Maasai people group, traditional culture and religion are tightly interwoven, and those who become Christians are often abandoned by their community and family. Although many remain shepherds, they no longer partake in certain Maasai traditions and are consequently forced to live on the outskirts of their community.
Open Doors partners report that Maasai Christians have experienced increased hardship in recent months. “Whenever persecution strikes, they usually cross into the Kenyan region where they hide among an accepting community, waiting for peace to return,” a partner explains. “While the borders were closed this was not an option for those trying to flee persecution.”
If that weren’t enough, many Maasai Christians urgently need food. Months of restricted trade and a reduced food supply have left many believers hungry and desperate. Churches in the region have tried to help, but are also hit by the restrictions – and pastors and the vulnerable are gravely affected by a reduction in tithes.
Maasai Christians singing in church after receiving relief aid from Open Doors
In July, as restrictions eased, Open Doors partners started delivering vital relief aid to the Christian Maasai community and the churches that support them. The relief aid comprises flour, maize, beans, cooking oil and fresh produce, sparing believers from further hunger and anguish. “I am very grateful to Open Doors for bringing us food," the partner says. "May God bless you.”
Months of restricted trade and a reduced food supply have left many believers hungry and desperate.
At the beginning of August, health authorities announced that more than one million people in Africa have been infected by Covid-19. However, there are widespread concerns that the official figures represent only a fraction of the true figure.
Meanwhile, recent months have seen an upsurge in infections in Africa, suggesting the knock-on effects of Covid-19 on Christians across the continent look likely to continue. This makes your support for Open Doors partners – who work courageously to get aid to Christians in parts of Africa, many who find themselves last in line for government aid due to their faith – even more vital and urgent.