NEWS MIDDLE OF APRIL 2014
Was this the most difficult bible study I’ve ever engaged and led? Some folks didn’t speak Swahili, so I was required to translate into English. Those who could have helped me translate weren’t there; I had to use both languages. I had planned various presentation styles, including some drama, which I now had to do using two languages. Meanwhile, some Congolese people don’t understand East African Swahili, so were being translated to in French. A recent addition to our group was an Egyptian whose English was not good, so his colleague whispered to him in Arabic. The already complex topic I had chosen seemed to become mission impossible as my head was being pulled in all directions hearing folks translating into endless languages.
Instead of the anticipated 6 to 8 people, a crowd of about 50 were gathered in this house on the Wednesday afternoon. We were ½ hour’s cycling distance from my home. The gathering was the mid-week meeting of this church. It turns out that on this occasion they all met together (about 7 different ‘cell groups’). I went along unexpected, as normal. The bishop asked me to share a short word, which I did for about 15 minutes. On introducing me, the bishop explained that ‘Jim doesn’t want to plant a church’. I realised that this is what made it acceptable for me to join this fellowship, and it is what allowed me the privilege of being given opportunity to share with people from God’s word. Had I come to Kenya as a ‘church planter’, I would have had to accept that I was competing with other church leaders. My turning up at someone else’s fellowship would appear as if I was prospecting for ‘sheep to steal’. Not being a church planter opens up avenues for ministry and sharing that would otherwise not be there at all! It also means that I am not loaded with administrative responsibilities, in a culture in which frankly administration seems to be done very differently to what I am used to. I could say in short that; vulnerable mission opens doors!
(I am not saying it is wrong to church-plant! I am simply saying that it is possible to minister without church-planting. Not planting one’s own church leaves one more vulnerable to the whim of local Christians. One could say that it helps in terms of penetrating the local culture.)
Please pray for plans we are beginning to make for mission-events in UK and Germany in 2015.