NEWS END OF JUNE 2017
I was walking in a supermarket in our local Kenyan city of Kisumu. I found myself behind a woman, one of the employees of the supermarket. Two other employees were standing alongside. One of them said to the woman (in the Luo language, thinking that I would not understand) “You are walking with your white man.” “I’m not walking with him, I just found him,” she responded. “No, he is yours, you are walking with him,” he re-iterated. She laughed and moved on. “You are walking with God,” he said. At moments like that I feel ashamed of being white. That reputation of my people, as considering themself to be ‘God,’ grates with me. I turned around and encouraged (in Luo) the man not to backbite! I can be shocked when I look in the mirror. I am a very pale white man in his 50s. In much of Africa, you can’t get much closer to ‘God’ than that . . . If only white people could relate to Africans without ‘being God’, I thought to myself.
Give thanks for ongoing and in some ways growing opportunities to share with Coptic folks here, at the location of my office. In addition to praying for the sick in the hospital, I am frequently called upon to share from the Scriptures with other Coptic people. One of the Coptic fathers has recently agreed that I share with whoever is around in the evenings, on the days that I sleep here. More recently: 40 American young people have come, as I write, they are about to have an all-night service, to end at 3am Saturday morning! I have been sharing a few meals with them, and engaging in a few deep conversations . . .
“He sent me dreams telling me he was going,” mum told me, wiping tears from her eyes. I was at JB’s funeral. In his short 6-year life, JB never talked, or walked, or even managed to propel himself along the floor. He never ate without being spoon-fed, he never even played with another child. His great friend was his mum, in whose arms he spent nearly all his time. His mum sat at home with him year in year out, talking to her little boy, who never talked back. Just occasionally, once every two months or so, (not more often, as his mum lives 30 miles away from me) he laid in my arms and I bounced him around for 15 minutes. I arrived early at JBs grandma’s home, where he was to be buried. I was there waiting for five hours, and the funeral had not even begun. Perhaps just as well I left when I did, or I might have bawled when his mum talked, a heroine who had given six devoted years of her life. Tears had already rushed to my eyes when mum told me of his final goodbyes to her in a dream.
PS: prayers valued for when I begin my trip to Tanzania, 6th July.