NEWS END OF FEBRUARY 2014
Arriving at the church, I had found that another man there had already been asked to preach. Hence I became the second preacher. (I almost always visit churches unannounced and uninvited. To announce or to respond to specific invitations would set up expectations of hospitality for the ‘White visitor’ that I don’t usually want to burden people with.) My colleague encouraged people to be loving. When I stood up I asked the congregation whether they believed in love. They all said yes. I had to emphasise my point; are you sure love is the best thing, I asked them again? They all agreed that we should always operate on the basis of love. Then I asked three men to stand at the front of the church. I made out that they were cattle rustlers and had been caught walking through the village at 3.00am with other peoples cows! (Cattle rustling is a very common and very troublesome issue in this area.) Then I made out that I was the judge in court. I convicted the first of the three to a beating and 10 years in prison. I convicted the second in the same way. Then I told the 3rd that because of love, he was free to go. Were the congregation happy? NO! Not at all! That, to them, was an inexcusable injustice. So actually you don’t like love, I suggested to them . . .
The rate at which people are murdered in my host community is sometimes shockingly high. Two very local funerals recently were of people who were murdered. The first had been stabbed with a knife, the second beaten with a stick, in both cases by family members following long-running tense family situations. I attended the first funeral. I soon became aware of a lot of tensions, due to accusations of witchcraft, but I was only told later that the man had been stabbed to death. A few days later a neighbouring lady beat and killed her mother-in-law.
Please rejoice with me over a recent warming of relationships with KIST (Kima International School of Theology). I have of late attended a few chapel services, as well as having had informal meetings with part of the school administration.
Why don’t Christians in Western nations march on prisons to forcefully release those who have been jailed? Because they acknowledge the legitimacy of the legal system that punishes offenders in certain ways. Why do African people often have relatively little motivation to practice western bio-medicine? Partly because they don’t see how bio-medicine can be effective against powerful spirits and witches. Partly because, like the Westerners above, they believe that the system whereby offenders are punished by witches and spirits is essentially legitimate. As is forced jail-breaking by Western Christians, so is trying to counter the destructive actions of ancestral spirits in Africa . Both are considered dubious practices that can have deserved negative consequences for their perpetrators.
Sometimes people warn me that ‘reverse culture shock’ is even worse than culture shock! That is to say, that it may be more of a culture shock should I ever want to go back to settle into the UK , than it has been to adjust to life in Africa . Well then; it is no wonder new missionaries (who still behave like they are in the West) don’t always get on well with more experienced missionaries (who have adjusted to African culture).
We have appointed a small committee to review the level of my financial support as from 2015. Anyone wanting to make suggestions to this committee please write to Peter Stagg at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please pray for the efforts we are making to revive the Bible teaching programme around Yala (my home town-ship) that effectively closed in 2011. We have a new director. The main difficulty we are facing is people’s apparent inability to accept that a White man may be involved in a programme without being the main benefactor sponsoring it. Give thanks for the Bible-training class that continues every Monday in Yala.
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