NEWS MID JULY 2017
As I prepare for my 23-day trip (visiting believers in Kenya, then Tanzania), I am reminded of what one of the pastors said to his colleagues when I made my last such trip two years ago: “We like Jim because he can sleep anywhere.” That doesn’t mean I fall asleep during meetings, although that might also be true. It doesn’t mean either that I have lots of girlfriends. It means that, typically, I turn up at church or home having made no other plans, and with no intention to make them. Where my hosts put me, is where I sleep. Also – I am not funding anything for the church (if I had funding for a project, then any cost entailed in caring for me would be ‘covered’ by the funds).
I can certainly see the attraction of sleeping at a guest house! (On previous trips, at some locations my hosts have put me in a guest house, then I had no choice but to pay the bill!) Facilities, freedom to ‘do my own thing’, etc. etc. But, to insist on sleeping in a certain guest house in town, is also to FOREGO SO MUCH! That is opportunities for fellowship, listening and learning, making friendships, sharing, understanding, plus at times, mosquitoes and bed bugs. Prayer valued for:
- opportunities to share God’s word, that what I share can be relevant and meaningful.
- opportunities to catch up with old friends, and new.
- the privilege of being an encouragement, and seeing and hearing of God’s work in different parts of first Kenya, then Tanzania.
- too much time waiting for, and sitting on, buses.
- the need for energy on those days when we might spend the whole day walking visiting people door-to-door.
- Decent places to sleep, and hopefully not to miss too much the ‘creature comforts’ including access to my computer, and being with people who know me well.
On a related note, a colleague who makes short-term mission trips to Africa recently confided in me: ‘Jim. I read one of your books a third of the way through. Then I couldn’t get any further; it was just so discouraging.’ The reason, I think, because my writing encourages Western people to meet Africans on their own turf, instead of buying access to them with aid money, and then engaging them using English. What I am advocating, I concede, is not easy. This explains why not everyone loves my books: They point to a difficult way.
Give thanks – that I have been asked to share a paper at the American Evangelical Missiological Society annual conference, that I am planning to attend in Dallas, September 15th to 17th this year! My paper is entitled: ‘Theological Education in Africa using African languages’, and makes a frank case for the necessity of use of African languages in Bible teaching.
See attached for the cover of my new book – that has just gone to press! (Thanks to many people, especially Marilyn James, for their hard work helping me get the book to being what it is.)