NEWS MID MARCH 2018
It is encouraging to be told, now by a number of patients over the last month or two, that they like to come to be treated at the Coptic hospital here in Kenya, because the staff are friendly and caring! Myself, as almost-hospital-chaplain, am heartened by reports like that!
‘Don’t listen to people!’ That’s what I often want to say to people wanting to work in Africa, (and to be honest, it seems the same could be said in much of Asia). This seems to contradict the message from many missionary trainers, that visitors to Africa must listen very carefully! The reason I might advise people do 'not listen’, is simply because they cannot understand! Then, by trying to listen, they can misunderstand more. As they listen more, they misunderstand more! Listening should be in the local person’s language, not in English. It should be done while observing the relationship between what people say, what they do, and what happens around them.
I’m grateful that I am getting a few more than recently ‘semi-formal’ invitations to engage in Bible teaching. I might not be very competitive in the ‘open-market’ of Bible teaching: I’m much too African for those who want a pure Western theological diet. Yet, I fall far behind my Kenyan colleagues when it comes to full-on African Bible teaching, that includes demon-removal and financial prosperity in the same package!
See here for my article on cultural-metaphors and development, that almost went viral: Here.
In mid-April this year I will, God willing, be sharing with leaders of youth in my home-denomination here in Kenya, about ‘servant leadership'. That is to be in the town of Eldoret, about 4 hours from home. Please pray for that. Pray also regarding an invitation I have received to attend a conference to be held in Beirut, Lebanon in October. The topic of that conference is Patronage.
I was amazed as I shared a word from the book of Job yesterday with a local indigenous church. It was just that - Job seemed to speak right into their world!
Here’s a copy of a review of African Heartbeat, recently written by Dr. Beth Snodderly, working in California (see here for the review on-line. I have been an adjunct faculty member at William Carey International University since 2007).___________________
In his novel, African Heartbeat and a Vulnerable Fool, WCIU adjunct faculty member Jim Harries gives the Western reader an opportunity to vicariously experience an immersion in African cultures with all the confusing realities. It is based on true stories and events, and takes place in the fictional African country of Holima.
Presenting “novel” concepts in fictional form is a good way to get past peoples’ initial resistance to some of the “vulnerable mission” thinking Jim Harries has been trying for years to get across to Western mission agencies and workers. The descriptions of the people and surroundings are compelling. Through interesting dialog and circumstances we learn about the dilemma of a white missionary, Philo, wondering if he should do things the African way along with the humble acknowledgment that he doesn’t know the answers. Many interesting adventures illustrate the African way of life in contrast to the missionaries’ comfortable, more luxurious lives.
Compelling stories enable readers to discover for themselves numerous cultural misunderstandings. Among the difficult issues raised in the narrative are the problems with the use of English instead of African languages, style of punishment, sustainability of capitalism in Africa, African vs. Western leadership of institutions, sense of time, foreign money and gifts, different ways of reasoning, understanding of land, work ethic, the reasons for poverty, what is poverty, Western assumptions that do not fit the cultural context, witchcraft, exorcism of demons, “what is truth?”, dependency, outside resources, the possibility of development, and problems caused by Western generosity,___________________
This book would be a good resource for prospective cross-cultural workers to help them be aware of what they are “going to meet up with” (p. 165).