MID JANUARY 2019
Various immigration issues that have arisen, mean that I am here in Kenya now formally under Coptic Mission. My office has been at their mission station in Maseno since 2012, so they know me well and I know them well.
Yes, it does sometimes feel like my head is being squeezed into ever-new shapes! Having been formed into a very African shape already, Egypt again is a bit different. Egyptian Christians, I have long been finding, are an incredibly open, friendly, accepting and warm people. They also prefer talking Arabic amongst themselves to English, and culturally are quite different from the ‘typical Brit’, if that person still exists . . . In other words, I seem to be floating ever further away from the UK, so appreciate all the more friends and colleagues in the land of my birth and childhood!
What the above will mean for my life and ministry, is not very clear. I am anyway already working regularly with Coptic Church people, in hospital ministry, and beyond. More opportunities are likely to open up to minister in Coptic churches in Kenya, and maybe in Tanzania, and who knows where else. I find it an incredible privilege to be so integrally linked with an ancient church, that is in many ways very African, and that produced enormous numbers of martyrs over the centuries, in living under Islamic rule, and before that hostile Caesars in the Roman Empire. Being an "insider" to Coptic gives me privileged witness opportunities, as well as of course close relationships with their people.
One thing Jim-as-a-scholar notices more and more in his international whirlwind experiences, is the horrors of the globalised use of English. I don't mean in terms of a friendly chat, or making some basic arrangements and plans . . . but at depth. At whatever point English began trying to take over from the Gospel as a "basic international presence and force", a problem was born that is creating vast global issues. That is issues basically of dependency; as more and more of the world is becoming and has become as a result more and more reliant on Western people to do their thinking for them. No, the answer is not to teach more English to more people. English being controlled from the West prevents it from penetrating the nooks and crannies of non-Western life. There is an urgent and serious need to free other people in the world from bondage to this northern European language. This issue should be priority for major global bodies. In the place of English, the recognised global binding-force should be the Gospel.
I arrived in Babati, Tanzania on 5th January. Travel was loooong but relatively uneventful. I am now visiting the Church of God headquarters in Tanzania (known locally as Kanisa la Mungu). My bishop of my home church, who has accompanied me from Kenya, gave what I thought was an excellent message to a packed church on Sunday. One of my children who has also accompanied us, is about to begin studying at the bible college linked to this church. I am to teach at the same college. They have given me the course Introduction to the Bible. They also want me to give instruction on Contemporary Issues in the Church and Mission.