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Dear Friends,

I’ve started writing a novel in Swahili. Then stopped again to pause . . .

At church last Sunday, I realised how folks around here appreciate experiences that are way beyond words. Words alone, as per on the page of a book, can as a result seem naked, in the sense of bereft. We had music, singing (loudly!), keyboard, many ‘characters’ involved in the church service, noisy spontaneous prayers, dramatic testimonies of healing and redemption. The preacher when he stood, had charisma, he jumped and danced, shouted, grunted, articulated, bent, screamed, groaned, stopped and started, went fast then slow, i.e. constantly changed his pace, and demeanour, it’s almost as if the words he might have said were only a tiny fraction of his total message. In these days of PA systems, loudspeakers are the African equivalent to the book in the West. They can be much richer than the best intended book could ever be . . . so no wonder, it seems to me, my Kenyan colleagues aren’t always the most avid readers.

I have periodically visited a neighbour for 14 years, for which time she has been bed-bound. If she needed to go anywhere, like to a doctor, one of her daughters would come and carry her. After 14 years of never walking, a few weeks ago, she started walking again! She came to my home church and declared God’s amazing healing.

“There’s a lot more grace in this church than there used to be,” announced an old lady in an indigenous church I recently visited. I was struck as to what she meant. . . . The same church had inherited certain practices from Islam. (The founder had once been a Muslim.) These days though, the lady was saying, people were clinging much more to the grace of Christ. I guess my occasional visits and sharing over the last twenty years have had an impact!

A short blog of mine has been posted by Global Connections in the UK. This blog has really caused me to reflect a lot. I am very glad that they have posted it! In it I hypothesise that just changing one word from English to an African language, the name of God, could make a vast difference in the running of a whole conference! (It is a bit theoretical. In practice, African people may be too used to being dominated to want to talk about their own history.)

Finally, thanks for protection 2 days ago. I was walking pushing my bicycle up a hill, when a snake dropped off the tree above me and landed about one foot away. It must have had such a shock at seeing a white man! I think the snake was the more worried than me, as it scarpered slithering into the bushes.