From being homeless, to being a sponsored child, and now an Anglican Archbishop: This is Jackson's story
Former sponsored child Jackson Ole Sapit was born as a Maasai to a father with 11 wives and more than 50 children. The tribe practiced polygamy and led semi-nomadic lives, rearing cattle.
His father died when he was young, and his mother and her three children were chased away from the family home by shrewd older brothers who understood the value of land. Jackson’s mother and her children became destitute.
Maasai parents didn’t believe in education, as boys were to herd cows, and girls worked around the house. But when Jackson was 9, education became compulsory in his community. There, he began to hear about Jesus.
Jackson Ole Sapit, now 54, is currently the Archbishop of Kenya.
“One of the songs [they sang],” he says, “was ‘More About Jesus.’” But he thought they were singing “moo” instead of “more.” He says, “I wondered, ‘Are they singing about cows?’” This was something he could relate to as a herder; his curiosity was piqued.
The next year, Jackson became sponsored through World Vision. He received all the benefits of sponsorship, including medical check-ups. And then, World Vision saved his family’s life.
“In 1976, there was a severe drought. People were on the food programme,” he says. “World Vision used to bring white maize, beans and cooking oil. Our food became the food for the entire family. It took us through the whole drought.” When the rains came in 1977, World Vision helped the family grow their own food. “So again that became food for the entire family,” he says.
Jackson did well in his studies. He loved school but felt he floundered during his final high school exams. Even though he finished in the top 10, he gave up on school and became a cattle trader, walking 10 days to Nairobi to sell cows.
It was during this period that he had an epiphany while resting in a forest with the cows, watching a spider rebuild its web. He realised how much he had been given, starting with World Vision sponsorship. He knew he needed to rebuild. “I went home singing,” he says, telling his mother, “I have seen God in an amazing way. He’s going to change my life.”
With the encouragement of an English missionary and a local pastor, Jackson embarked on a journey to become the first Maasai pastor. He received support to study at St. Paul's Theological College in the UK and also earned a master's degree in development.
Upon his return from England, Jackson became a bishop and was appointed Archbishop of Kenya in 2016.
He says his time as a sponsored child and experience with World Vision helped shape his vision for Kenya. “World Vision does community empowerment best,” he says. “We need to let people discover they are in relation to their environment, in relationship to God. They can envision their future, and World Vision can empower them.”
Want to see more of Jackson's story? Watch the video below!