News for End of October 2004
Pray for - a lady from my home village who got married in 2000, who is seriously ill in hospital after trying to burn herself with petrol to commit suicide when her husband took a second wife.
Pray for - a friend of mine. He was subject to lunacy for a period about 8 years ago. When recovered, he is a very articulate and intelligent man. The same lunacy has now taken hold of him again. Not knowing what he is doing, he wonders around all day and night, and takes and walks off with peoples' things.
Listening in closely to the medium in the church taught me something .
That whites in this part of Africa are considered to be something like 'gods' is becoming clearer and clearer. 'gods' in Africa are the spirits, that are very closely related to the ancestors.
While in an indigenous church, a lady was taken over by an ancestral spirit and began to speak to various members of the congregation. I had always imagined that in such a situation one would be cynical and testing to try to prove whether what the ancestor was saying was true or not. Far from it! I realised that the role of the listener in responding to the ancestor was to cajole it to say more by agreeing, whether what was being said was 'true' or 'made sense' or not. That way you get the maximum amount of revelation, the meaning of which you can continue to chew on later. Refusing the spirit would be like refusing an offer of help. Perhaps this is why some people will agree with what the white-man says, encouraging him to speak on whether what he says makes sense to them or not as there may also be something to be gained from him!
We have been reaching out to this church for many years, ever since their pastor joined our Bible teaching programme. Their overt allegiance to the dead is incredibly strong. Pray for ongoing opportunities to testify to them about Christ, who rose from the dead, but not as a 'spirit'! (The members of this church all wear a cross. They profess Christ as Saviour, the Bible, the creeds, and the trinity, but they also like to hear from the dead. I do believe that the 'ancestor' is not actually the dead person but the devil who is impersonating him or her. I appreciate that such practice is theologically very questionable. Pray for our reaching out to them.)
Snow on the Equator?
Sitting outside my house recently, I was watching wings fall gently all around me! What was going on?
No, not birds wings, but wings of flying ants, which emerge on mass if a shower of rain follows a dry period. Once emerged their instinct tells them to fly up and up and up, where the birds are waiting. The birds catch them in mid air, but spit out the wings, that hence come floating gradually down to earth!
People are very happy when ants emerge - as these are also a favoured diet here. Small crowds gather at the points of emergence, gathering or simply eating the ants as they come out of their holes.
The following day there were so many flying ants going up, like white spots against a wooded background, that they looked like fluffy snow in a gentle storm!
At KIST we are expanding our research programme, by (as far as I am aware for the first time ever) having a post graduate carry out a research project. This student is soon to enter into fieldwork and begin moving amongst a neighbouring community atttempting to explore how theological education can be brought to them in a relevant and meaningful way. Give thanks for such an opportunity for exploring the work of Christ in this locality.
KIST is instigating a new programme of extension studies. The first pilot is to be this December. Following this it is hoped that students from Kenya and beyond will be able to take the KIST diploma, without having to come and be residential at KIST itself.
Not much new to report on Siaya Theological Centre as yet. Our YTC Director was to be there to look into things today, as I write. We plan to return to continue discussions with people there on Saturday 6th November.