NEWS FOR END OF OCTOBER 2008
* Unscrupulous church leaders in their thousands and even hundreds of thousands in Kenya have recently been accused by the Kenyan media of being primarily oriented to making money. The report indicates that 17,000 applications for denominations have been received by the Kenyan Government (and 60 new applications for registration are received monthly) from 'churches' that are really 'businesses'. (Making a quick calculation, this means that we have one denomination for every 1500 people in Kenya.)
"It is quite common [and increasingly common - Jim] for pastors to search the internet for foreign based organisations wishing to start satellite churches in Kenya" said the Nation newspaper (11.10.2008), as a way of making money.
Thousands of those churches have foreign patrons. Many of the latter are unaware that their donor policies are shaping Kenyan people's understanding of God and bringing the church into disrepute.
The approach by western Christians to countries like Kenya is unfortunately often under-informed. Sometimes there seems to be no choice. Westerners' charitable generosity combined with their refusal to work face to face with people using their languages, is in mass producing money-orientation and corruption, threatening disaster.
* Eight minibuses, each pretty much empty. All want passengers for their trip to Kisumu. More passengers = more trips = more money. Meanwhile potential passengers are wary about entering an empty bus - fearing they could end up sitting for ages waiting as buses do not leave till they are full.
Result - 8 conductors running back and fore looking for people, and 8 drivers moving up and down, engines revving, horns blaring, to give the appearance that they are about to leave. Anyone coming into the vicinity who looks like a traveller is mobbed and sometimes dragged this way and that by conductors, while buses manoeuvre to pull alongside where someone is standing, doors open, driver beckoning. Conductors are liable to take people's bags, sometimes against their will, to try and force them to enter their bus.
This is a scene that faces me every Wednesday as I set out to travel from Kasempa to Indensia. My bicycle is dragged off. Conductors all around me, arguing over me with each other. I see a frightened looking girl trying to hold her ground against the conductor mob. "There's one coming, go for him" a driver shouts to his conductor. Any passer-by who shows the slightest interest in the buses is at risk of being mobbed.. (The buses do not wait at the bus station but move around the shops to find people.) . Just a normal day trying to catch a bus in Kenya.
(Some details changed to protect anonymity.)