End-month news June 2023 email@example.com
It’s a great honour to teach at the Bible college for CMML, Christian Mission for Many Lands, the mission of Brethren churches from Germany.
Reaching here has taken an extra 20 hours on a bus each way, costing £40. There are 11 students here, whom I am teaching over 2 hours per day, for 10 days. My location is here: 11°00’37.4″S 37°18’07.4″E
I am about 50km from the border with Mozambique. It is sobering to thik what (I believe) is going on there – that people are being forced to become Muslim. From my understanding – no one is doing anything about that. I am told that the problems in Mozambique occasionally spill over into Tanzania. Sometimes one must really be very grateful for the British colonialists: ex-British colonial countries are often the ones thriving the most in Africa (compared to Mozambique, for example).
Website Alert – jim-mission.org.uk
A good friend made a website for me over 20 years ago now. It has been very useful, and been a great help. More recently, unfortunately, it is a little out of date, and I have lost access to it. Hence I am planning to put up a new website on the same site. The site is jim-mission.org.uk I know that many people have accessed the site for my news and other items. This is a ‘warning’, telling you that a lot of the current content on this site may soon disappear. Any complaints or suggestions to me. Otherwise, please download a copy of the content on the site that is important to you.
‘Ministry amongst Muslims is Easy’
‘Ministry amongst Muslims is Easy’, a Tanzania pastor friend shared with me recently. (He had been talking of the various places where he had done ministry over the years. There are a lot of Muslims in some parts of Tanzania.) I was quite struck by that comment! I asked him to explain. His explanation, as I understood him and as I recall, was something like this: “Because Muslims do not have a policy of forgiving one another, and because they believe in taking revenge, life in Islamic communities is characterised by deep tensions, hatred, suspicion and mistrust. This means that Muslim people are very glad to accept the kinds of ministry of prayer, healing, forgiveness and salvation that Christian pastors offer.” I did not press him on this. I assume the above does not mean that the Muslims concerned become Christian. Many of the people being reached are presumably wives of Muslim men, who have little choice but to stay Islamic. It seems that some come to Christians for healing, while themselves remaining Muslim.
This explains the prevalence of jinn in Islamic communities. Jinn are said to be evil spirits, and are associated with Muslims. It seemed clear to my pastor friend, that jinn are common and widespread because of the harshness of Islam.
The above needs to be understood without some of the accretions of recent philosophical assumptions of modern Western society. I am thinking especially of the widespread assumption amongst Western people, that there is a clear distinction between what is material and what is spiritual, or what is natural and what is supernatural. Because many Western people do ‘not believe in’ the supernatural, healing has in the West become a practice of engagement with what is recognised as natural or physical in origin. The above distinction is absent in my African colleagues. In practice this means that when they talk of prayer, healing, exorcism and miracles, it is helpful to understand them as referring to things that we in the West know as the effects of counselling, psychotherapy, a good social life, medical attention, and even drug treatment.
‘Many of us are Hyenas’
I sat with one of the leaders of a church in Tanzania, after having shared a message about hyenas during a Sunday service. (I took hyena as a translation of θηρίον (therion) in Revelations 13:1, often given in English as ‘beast’. In some African language translations known to me, this is given as ‘hyena’.) Hyenas are not thought to be lovely creatures. They are particularly characterised by their habit of, when looking at a living being, wishing that it were dead so that they could draw benefit by chewing at the corpse! Imagine people looking at you, wishing that you were dead! … Actually, though, perhaps that is not so uncommon? Reading the Old Testament, and the New (of the Bible), one actually comes across a lot of that – i.e., people murdering each other. People hating each other, is actually not so uncommon!
The leader of the church I sat with commented something like this: ‘many of our people are hyenas’. It turns out that hyena is a common name given to people of his tribe! His people are, today, recognising what they are like, how unpleasant they can be to one another – like hyenas. That to me was rather mind-blowing, as it illustrated that the message I had shared had great relevance in that community. My message, that is, that pointed out how hyena-like people are today, and how faith in Christ is the available means of overcoming hyena-likeness.
Amazingly, to me, the explosive issue so far in my teaching here in Tunduru, has been that of charging interest on loans. The Bible condemns the charging of interest. It seems both that my students had never been told that, and that charging of interest loans is a big issue locally …
Please pray for the remaining week of teaching I have here in Tunduru, in southern Tanzania. I still have half my classes, on Stewardship, to teach. I have invited a local church leader to answer students’ questions about how to look after money and property in the church.
Give thanks – today on 24th June, a member of the local church I am attending while here, is to have his wedding. The same young man has been a student at the Bible college here.
Pray for my travelling. I have 5 full days in buses in prospect, if all goes well, the final one on 12th July. On route, I am planning to do some ministry in three Tanzanian towns, and some Luo language teaching once back in Kenya, as well as having a few meetings.
Pray for my mother’s planned visit. She is to be in Kenya 13th July to 26th July. I am very much looking forward to her visit.
Pray also for my anticipated visit to the UK, to be 12th September to end of October 2023. The first half of my time I am to be based in Norwich. The second half in Andover.