We recently returned from a bush trip. There is so much to tell! But first, we want to try and tell you the story of how the gospel and churches living the gospel have reshaped the Mahafaly.
Grant and Jodie Waller arrived here in 2008. They had a background in church planting, working previously in Japan and Seattle, but had long felt a calling to reach the Mahafaly specifically. They were eager to move to Southern Madagascar and be mentored as new missionaries, but instead, found themselves without a team. As the only missionaries then working with the Mahafaly, they began their work.
Mahafaly means “making taboos,” and the tribe lived up to its name. It’s a culture of respect for elders and the rules they’ve made–even if that means killing kids born on certain days and sacrificing 500 cows when the owner dies. They understood we are all covered by hakeo (a curse). Hakeo stops all life, and so in order to keep living, blood must be shed to lift the curse. Therefore, the Mahafaly sacrificed all the time. But little did Grant know that as he carefully built relationships with Mahafaly villages, God had prepared them.
One village had eight brothers at the helm. Their father had just recently passed away. Then the father came to one of the brothers in a dream, telling them to take religion seriously. Shortly after that, Grant showed up in their village telling them he wanted to share good news about God with them.
In another village, the president of the village was visited by his father–a fortune teller. This man prophesied that in three years a white man would come with news that would bless the whole village. It was three years later that Grant arrived telling them he had good news to share with them.
It wasn’t a new idea to spread the good news that God spilled his blood for the Mahafaly; God had been preparing things for a while.