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Dear Friends,

Kenya elections have gone peacefully so far. As I write, the name of the president who has won the election has yet to be announced. The elections have been very disruptive; numerous people left the country, many businesses closed, all children were sent home from school etc.

It is very hard for me (and Westerners in general) to understand some aspects of the lives of local people. Many people are very clear and vocal in stating that they have left their traditions behind. Ancient traditions determine very precisely where houses should be built in a homestead; certain sons should build on the right, others on the left, down towards the gate in front of the parents’ house etc. Everyone I have spoken to tells me that even if you gave them £1,000,000 no way will they build even one house in the wrong place! We discussed this in relation to Jeremiah 35. Jeremiah tells us about the Rekabites. The Rekabites stuck very strongly to their forefathers’ traditions. God uses their example to admonish the Jews; how come the Rekabites follow their traditions so carefully, but God’s people don’t follow God’s laws? Teaching from this scripture over the last few weeks has been fascinating. It is like many people in Africa are Rekabites. We are challenged to follow God’s commands as enthusiastically as we follow ancestral directive. Sometimes the Gospel can free people from having to follow some ancestral commands, but the same people then become too lazy to follow God’s word.

Four funerals were going on simultaneously around my home last week. Lying in bed I could clearly hear every word spoken by a preacher at a funeral 1km away. The preaching and singing went from 10pm to 6am, and was transmitted around the villages using very powerful speakers. The following day, I attended one of the funerals. Workmen were putting the roof on the house of the deceased a few yards away as the funeral service progressed. (It is embarrassing to bury a man with his house incomplete.) Yesterday I was visiting church members in their homes with a pastor colleague. Then my home-church pastor came running “please help us bury a baby” he asked. The mother was sick in hospital while her baby was being buried. Our fellowship meeting that afternoon was at the home of a man who had recently died -- so that we could plan funeral arrangements. He is to be buried Saturday; I had hoped to attend another funeral of a friend this Saturday. Looks like that won’t now be possible. Sometimes life just seems to be a series of funerals.

No one in the church I visited that day seemed to know me. So it appeared. Yet one of the men appeared vaguely familiar. Later he approached me and said "we talked at Ndere" 4 years ago. I'd been to Ndere often, so that seemed likely. When I cast my mind back I managed to remember. I had sat under a tree talking to this man. He had complained, telling me about corrupt and greedy church leaders. I had pointed him to John 21:21-22. Peter had looked over his shoulder and seen another disciple. He said to Jesus "what about him?" "What's that got to do with you" Jesus said, "you just follow me". The man reminded me of what I had said. It had obviously stuck with him. How this man is active in his local church! Give thanks.