Secluded 'Ostrich People' to Hear Gospel from Neighboring Tribe Plans are underway for how the Gospel-receptive Tonga people of Zimbabwe will bring the Good News to the neighboring Vadoma tribe, who live on a road-less stretch of uncultivated land in a very remote part of Zimbabwe.
The vision for the Tonga to reach out to the Vadoma people – nicknamed the “Ostrich People” because about 25 percent of them are born with only two toes on each foot – was developed at a recent gathering of Christian Tonga people and Americans in Binga, Zimbabwe.
What helped spark the idea was a two-day missiology seminar for Christian Tonga leaders, led by missions expert Bruce Koch of the U.S. Center for World Mission - one of the world’s preeminent mission think-tanks. Koch, who was simply on a church mission trip with his son, shared his expertise at the urging of a missionary working in Zimbabwe.
On July 7, the second day of the seminar, Koch spoke about the difference between evangelism among one’s own people group, similar people group, and culturally distant people groups. He highlighted the necessity for people to be trained and equipped as well as know the difference between their culture and their mission field when evangelizing to a different people group.
Koch’s seminar helped spark the idea that before the Tonga people reach out to Muslims in other countries as some leaders had envisioned, they should first bring the Gospel message to their culturally closer neighbor, the Vadoma people, whom no one has been able to reach.
“We just kind of presented to them that this may be God’s kairos moment for the Tonga people to have a vision for reaching out to the Vadoma people,” said Koch during a reflection talk last Friday at USCWM’s headquarters in Pasadena, Calif., “and that God may have uniquely prepared them to reach the Vadoma.”
Past small-scale efforts to bring the Gospel to the Vadoma people have not succeeded. But mission experts hope that the Tonga and Vadoma people’s similar lifestyle will help facilitate communication and trust between the two groups. The Vadoma people are said to be afraid of outsiders and run away from all foreigners regardless of the person’s skin color, including black Africans.
Koch explained to The Christian Post that while the Tonga people have been highly receptive to the Gospel, the Vadoma people do not have any known Christians among them and no one is working with them currently.
“The Vadoma people are one of the few unreached peoples that is still completely cut off from all gospel witness,” commented Koch.
At the challenge by Tongan Pastor Mukulo, who has overseen the planting of over 400 churches among the Tonga people, ten Tongan Christian leaders committed themselves to the mission to reach the Vadoma people.
Among the volunteer leaders was a 63-year-old man who was the first pastor in Binga. He has committed himself to the long bus rides and many miles of walking on foot to reach the Vadoma people, noted Koch, who was present at their commitment.
Each of the leaders were subsequently prayed for and commissioned for their upcoming task.
Before the end of the year, two teams will be sent to begin work among the Vadoma people in Zimbabwe.
“I never imagined that this little consultation would result in the Tonga people adopting the Vadoma and people being commissioned to reach them,” reflected Koch.
There are some 140,000 Tonga people in Zimbabwe, while the Vadoma population is unknown, according to Koch.