The Gabbra of Kenya
The Gabbra live in the Chalbi desert in Kenya close to the border with Ethiopia. They raise camels and other livestock. They are semi-nomadic. The Gabbra believe in a benevolent God (Waaqa) who gives rain as he pleases. Animal sacrifices and ritual prayers are part of their religious practices. They believe in “merciless” justice, where grace is unknown and wrongs are righted by payment. Islam is growing in the area by building mosques in each town and promising education and finances.
Pray that the Gabbra would cry out: “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalms 63:1
Workers continue to distribute Treasures (small mp3 players, with a solar panel on the back) among the Gabbra. The Treasure is an effective tool for reaching Gabbra. The herdsmen especially enjoy listening to the Bible while they watch their animals. Pray for those listening to the Bible, that they may hear and see the truth of Jesus and come to find him as their Savior.
Location and Background: The Cushitic Gabbra live in the Chalbi desert along the border of Kenya and Ethiopia, keeping livestock such as camels, sheep and goats. The camel is central to their way of life and economy, and they follow weather patterns to move their herds in search of water and pasture. Their mobile houses are made of sticks, woven mats, skins and cloth, so they can easily move it all on 2-3 camels, while the woman, children, and elderly remain in semi-permanent shelters.
History: The Gabbra escaped from Ethiopia around 1900 to avoid conscription into Menlik’s army. Traditionally they moved freely across the border, but life is now more difficult as there is less grazing land available (which is semi-arid), and there are more people and bigger herds. Drought always poses a risk.
Culture: The camel is at the center of their culture and economy, using it for meat and milk as well as transportation. They build their homes, fencing and household items out of palms, grasses, trees and other local materials which can be carried on camels. Moving camp is all considered “women’s work”. Their proverb “a poor man shames us all” explains why their mutual support for survival as nomads compels them to allow no Gabbra to go hungry, be without animals, or be refused hospitality or assistance.
Religion: The Gabbra believe in a benevolent God (Waaqa) who gives rain as he pleases. Animal sacrifices and ritual prayers are part of their religious practices. They believe in “merciless” justice, where grace is unknown and wrongs are righted by payment. Forgiveness is possible, but the penalty must be paid. Ancestors are honored, and may rituals are performed with fear of incorrect practices. “Ayana” worship—the worship of Satan and his angels—is a practice increasing among the Gabbra, with the center of worship being at Dabel. The “Yaa” is the high court in each clan, choosing leaders and overseeing all spiritual aspects of the community. Islam is increasing by building mosques in each town and promising education and finances.
Latest Prayer Updates:
During their whole lives, a husband and wife followed and worshiped Ayana (evil spirits). Once he understood that everything they had was being stolen by Satan, and convinced by the Holy Spirit of the Truth, he repented and accepted Jesus as his Savior. His wife, though, hadn’t yet surrendered to Jesus and was being tormented by evil spirits. Her husband asked for prayers and we went for several weeks visiting and praying in their house asking that in the name of Jesus she would be set free. Now, at last, this lady has been rescued from darkness and delivered to eternal life! Before, she wouldn’t leave her bed, but today, for the second time, she came to fellowship and worshiped Jesus with others!
Jesus has overcome!!! There’s none like YOU, Lord!
Today, in one of the Gabbra villages, we were visiting some families and a couple came to ask us for medication for their baby who has a swelling on his neck. We couldn’t help with medication but we asked if we could pray for healing in the Name of Jesus.
Me: “Have you heard and understood who Jesus is and the power that there is in His Name?”
Mama: “I never really wanted to hear but now that my baby boy is sick I would.”
So I explained the life of Jesus and His mighty love and sovereignty. Then I asked again, “Can I pray for healing over your child and also for salvation?”
They agreed and received the prayer with opened hearts.
Before leaving, we gave the family the audio scripture so they can continue listening to the Word of God!
Please join us in prayer! May the Holy Spirit speak to this family’s heart and may they surrender their lives to Jesus as their Savior. Pray for healing for the baby and may the Name of Jesus be glorified among the Gabbra people!