NEWS MID AUGUST 2014
Unfortunately my Tanzanian colleagues cancelled their visit to Kenya at the last minute. This means also that my trip to Tanzania that was planned for this month is off.
The KIST graduation on 26th July went very well. I was able to attend the celebration the day before, as well as the graduation ceremony. 38 students in all were graduated.
Part of the crowd at the KIST graduation ceremony
Celebration service the day before the graduation at KIST
31st July to 4th August found me in Uganda. I decided to fit in the trip, being as my proposed travel to Tanzania had been called off. It had been 6 years since my last visit to Uganda. The Uganda border is actually just 2 hours by bus from my home. I reached the home of the bishop of the Church of God of Uganda on the Thursday afternoon. Then I proceeded to visit students. I was able to sit with and encourage 7 out of the 30 plus KIST graduates that are now serving in Uganda. I travelled from the shores of Lake Victoria, to the foothills of Mount Elgon in order to do this. Give thanks for the renewed contacts that I made and the conversations that I had. Pray that this contact be an encouragement to the students, and for whether I ought to repeat such a visit. A recent email from our missionary in Uganda stated: "Was good you can connect with former students. Uganda and church here is so full of opportunities."
Judging from conversations in Uganda, it seems that my reputation as KIST teacher was that my standards were high. An ex-student commented that he and his class mates were sometimes frustrated by how demanding I was of my students. Then a few years ago he applied to teach part-time at a bible college near his home in Uganda. For his interview, they asked him to prepare a class. He decided to prepare it the way that I had taught them while he was a student at KIST years before. When they saw the way that he proposed to teach, instead of taking him on part-time, they offered him a full time position!
To find out more about the Coptic Orthodox Mission that are hosting me here in Maseno, go here., or here. (Please don’t be too put off by the elaborate clothing! Our bishop is a Godly man whose greatest love and skill is expounding on the words of the Bible, especially the letters of Paul.) As I write, we have 22 young people from Egypt and 15 from Canada visiting us here, giving those of us on the ground the privilege of being able to speak God’s words into their lives.
Please pray for Angela Merridale, who distributes this news and often does typing for me, as she recovers from a recent operation on her scalp. Pray also for a missionary, an ex-missionary and local village folks who have cancer.
Professor Thomas Schirrmacher, president of Martin Bucer Theological Seminary in Europe and leading figure in the World Evangelical Alliance recently read an article about "sin" that I had submitted for publication in the, Evangelical Review of Theology. He was obviously impressed, as he has commissioned me to write a book for a WEA Theological Commission series on a related topic. I am currently working on this. Proposed as 32,000 words, the new book is to look at faith in Jesus in today’s post-modern and post "religions" world. It will point to many exciting recent developments in global Christianity. Pray for the right balance in timing between my writing and other ministries. Give thanks that Marilyn James, of Andover Baptist Church, is currently copy-editing another book of mine that looks at secularism and Christianity, which we hope to send to the publishers at the end of the year.
Pray for an Ethiopian colleague who I first met in London School of Theology in 1994 who is to come to visit me here in Kenya later this month. Now an American citizen, he is interested in learning more about vulnerable mission to help him to engage more closely in education and training of the church in Africa, especially Ethiopia. Give thanks for opportunities I have had for some excellent conversations with an ex-Siaya Theological Centre student of mine who is currently preparing for ordained ministry with the Coptic Church.
The city of Kisumu, Kenya’s third city, is just 25 miles from home. There are many Western missionaries working in Kisumu, especially with the Luo people. I have had various degrees of contact with Kisumu missionaries over the years. Please pray for efforts I am making at encouraging some of those missionaries to learn local languages, especially Luo and Swahili. If this works out, I am offering to teach some language classes later in the year.
A few days ago I found a rather nervous middle aged African man coming for a stay at Maseno Coptic hospital. Obviously very concerned about his health and prospects, he clearly did not like the idea of sleeping in a hospital. I was able to encourage him from the Scriptures and pray for him. A few days later, I find the same man recovering from an operation smiling and happy. It was great to be that person who is able to visit and encourage him as he goes through various medical procedures.