NEWS END OF MAY 2016
15th May was Pentecost, and an international day of prayer. As a result, many Norwich churches cancelled their evening services to encourage attendance at the Cathedral. Although some aspects of its organisation were very British, I was struck that much of the service reminded me more of contemporary Africa than of UK in the 1980s! That is, a general high noise level, emotional involvement, simultaneous prayer, and so on. It was a valuable time.
Another striking thing about the UK, is the degree to which many, Christians included, seem to have been convinced by the advisability of ‘respect for’ people engaged in homosexual practices. This seems to represent the putting in place of a divide with those of us in Africa who consider the practice of homosexuality to be sinful. It is hard to know how this will play out in the years ahead; it is certainly a problematic wedge between the West and Africa. By the time Western policymakers reverse contemporary decisions, humanly speaking it seems considerable damage will have been done.
Westerners seem to struggle to hear the majority world on such issues. Admittedly, the Western church often seemed to have little choice in today’s ‘big brother’ society. Yet the question remains: in the light of such how can the majority world church continue to look to the Western church for leadership?
Many missions’ thinkers are paying a lot of attention to vulnerability. From the editors of Anabaptist Witness “an emerging consensus may be tentatively identified: Christian mission involves all of life, and it requires vulnerability with those encountered on the way” (see here). I was very privileged indeed to have been given one of very few seminar slots at the bi-annual UK global connections conference in May to present ‘Vulnerable mission.’ The German Micah Conference at the end of this month is also offering such a seminar track. The Alliance for Vulnerable Mission is clearly having a major impact on people’s thinking.
A ‘lucid-dream’ I experienced on 16th May brought me some challenging thoughts. My dream progressed in all real sincerity, while at the same time I was fully aware that I was lying in bed. This rendered the events of my dream all rather contingent. When my alarm rang, it was not-unexpectedly yet abruptly brought to an end. Is this like the experience of life as a whole to someone sufficiently aware of God’s greater eternal plan that can at any time interfere with it?
A recent meeting with a Coptic orthodox monk in the UK proved a fascinating experience. ‘Be careful or you will lose your country’ the monk said to me! Egypt was once all Christian. Now for centuries Christians have been a persecuted minority. This monk is concerned that Britain is on track to becoming like Egypt. British people do seem very naïve and the church much weakened by popular enthusiasm for atheism. These days an additional issue; Islam is considered to be a religion, thus on an entirely unfounded basis, implying a similarity with Christianity. I go along with this monk’s sense of urgency. The UK’s liberal and modern orientation is incredible.
God willing, I have another 3 weeks before I get home. This week in Andover, next week in Germany, the following week back in Andover, then back to Kenya. Please pray for me and with me for there to be ministry open doors in the days ahead.