I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. Rom 9:1-5.
This passage has intrigued me for a number of reasons:
1) Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles is so keen and interested in His own blood kindred
2) That Paul is himself willing to be ‘accursed and cut off from Christ’ for the sake of his brothers
3) Paul takes strong vows to show how true this is – “…I am speaking the truth in Christ – I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit…”
The reasons why this is particularly true of Paul with regard to the Israelites as an ethnic entity is because of the reasons he gave those eight things that are peculiar to them – to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all.
This also motivates me to think of my tribesmen – the Merus as a community. This is because more often than not in the Bible we see God pronouncing judgments upon the nations (or ethnic groups) than He pronounces upon individuals. There are things that I see happening in our nation or among other nations or communities and you would be blind to fail to the just retribution and judgment of God upon them as a community. Yet we know that the electing grace of God is directed at individuals, not nations.
The only time the Lord God identified a nation to bestow His grace, it was rejected nationally by the Israelites. They rejected the Law and the Christ who is the Saviour although He came from among them. Therefore, the Lord displayed the richness of His grace by unconditionally electing people from every nation, every tribe, every language. It is this multi-ethnic, international and multi-lingual community that will forever be assembled in heaven to offer unceasing worship to Him. The ingathering of peoples in missions is what is happening now. We all have a responsibility to pray that the Lord in His mercy may send men from local churches to proclaim the good news of His saving power by the means of His Son, who is the propitiation for our sins and for the sins of the whole world where the Lord is believed.
This understanding motivates my desire to see genuine Christian religion among the people of Meru. Although I minister outside the geographic Meru, yet I desire to see more and more people from this community brought to the saving knowledge of our Saviour, even Christ. I pray for them, for among them is my mother, my brothers and sisters and all other relatives the Lord has providentially given me. I desire to see them forgiven of their sins and brought to the lordship of Christ. I desire to see more and more Bible-saturated churches in the major towns in Meru, but also in every village so that Christ may be worshiped as God, and His gracious fragrance spread to the lives of these people.
Meru people believe that they migrated from the Congo Basin towards the east coast of East Africa and then approached and settled to the east of Mount Kenya. The name Meru refers to both the people and the geographic location. Merus are primarily agrarian, raising a few domestic animals. The Meru tribe is a fairly homogeneous group composed of nine sub-tribes, each of which speaks its own dialect of the Kimeru language.
The oral tradition has it that they were once enslaved by the Nguu Ntune "red clothed people". They eventually escaped and, in their exodus, came across a large body of water called Mbwaa, which they crossed by magical means (reminiscent of the crossing of the Red Sea by the Jews from the Egyptian bondage). They later followed a route that took them to the coast of the Indian Ocean. They stayed there for some time, however, due to poor climatic conditions and threats from the Arabs, they were forced to travel further north west through the Tana river basin, until they finally reached the Mount Kenya area where they reside today.
They are to the East of Mount Kenya, what used to be Eastern Province. The Ameru people comprise nine sub-tribes (these are also the different dialects of the Kimeru language): the Igoji, Imenti, Tigania, Mitine, Igembe, Mwimbi, Muthambi, Chuka and Tharaka. The Meru community spreads out into two counties - Meru and Tharaka-Nithi Counties with 11 constituencies.
Culturally, the Ameru believed in an ancestral god called Murungu or Ngai. There was deep reverence for the spirit of the living dead. The divine leader of the Ameru was called the Mugwe. These were respected persons who made sacrifices and performed healing on behalf of the tribe.
They highly regarded the two huge high grounds - Kirimara (Mt. Kenya) and so would pray facing to the west towards this mountain where they believed their god, Ngai wa Kirimara lived whom they called Mweneinya (the almighty). From him they believed rains and all good things came. They also believed a lesser god lived in Nyambene ridges (Ngai wa Nyambene) and would also face these high grounds. During the severe climatic conditions such as drought and consequent famine, they would offer animal sacrifices (unblemished lambs or goats) to appease the gods. They strongly believed in the ancestral spirits and would pour libation on the ground to please them before taking their meals as a way of appreciating the provision.
Other interesting religious activity was the believe in curses (and blessings) incurred through ancestors or parents or through the famous Council of Elders called Njuri Nceke. This council was primarily there to punish the evil doers and mete justice. It functioned like the parliament and would make laws that governed various matters such land, marriage, succession, etc.
Although there is a lot of Christian activities by these denominations and the community is described as having 97% Christianity, there is barely evangelical and Biblical Christianity. Very few churches are teaching the doctrines of the Bible, as the inspired, authoritative and infallible Word of God. Rather, there is a lot of hypocrisy and syncretism with the traditional religions and the word of faith teachings which emphasis extra-biblical revelations which are more often than not subjective and misleading. Many purport to be 'prophets' and 'apostles' and so infallible. This has led to a lot of confusion.
That the Lord may be pleased to:
1) send a genuine spiritual awakening through Biblical means of grace,
2) raise many faithful preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ,
3) more healthy churches to be planted,
4) eradication of such traditions and rituals that are anti-Christian (Njuri, Giachiaro, all forms of idolatry, animal sacrifices to appease the gods etc.),
5) church leaders to concentrate on church work rather than politics,
6) Christians to live godly lives that adorn the gospel of Christ.