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Dear Friends,

The very foundations to life are here so vastly different to the UK (where I was raised). Many people aspire to a life of spiritual engagement in which economic pursuits take a distinct second place. Of those who so aspire, many seem also to achieve it. Except, that is, that spiritual engagement itself also is economic engagement. (It’s hard to explain this in English!) Money is always short. Many people are busy looking for money rather than ‘earning’ money in the strict sense. The term used to say I am ‘looking for money’ is ahawo money, the same hawo, also meaning "blessing", or even "God."

I was recently at the annual pastors’ conference of my home denomination. 20+ pastors were in attendance. We had many very good speakers. They were ‘in-house’ speakers, from within our denomination. Fellow Africans know how to communicate with their own people. A major issue being faced by this church, as so many churches, is how to wean themselves from dependence on (over)generous White people. Local people like to make organising of their own funerals as priority. Then they can expect foreigners to pay for certain church related activity. Now they are trying to do both themselves, which puts on extra strain. Squeeze parishioners too hard, and they may leave the church. In my experience however, ‘squeezed’ church members, women in particular, respond the best, and can commit themselves incredibly faithfully to church programmes that help themselves, their children, and their community. These people find that God’s service gives them meaning and purpose. That service is of necessity closely bound to ‘traditional’ understandings of the activities of ancestors and witches.

I attended a very indigenous church, on my second last Sunday before I am to leave for the UK on my 7-week trip. I was welcomed and given the main preaching slot. (These indigenous churches tend to have many preachers, maybe 6 or 10, but this time I seemed to be the only one.) The message I shared was very similar to that which I’d shared 2 days earlier at the pastor’s conference in Kisumu. This time though the ‘take-up’ was very different. The indigenous-church people are even more caught up in their ‘indigenous’ issues than are the leaders of the Pentecostal church I had spoken to in Kisumu. Their own pastors seem to speak with hot tongs that cut deeply into people’s own intensely troubling issues. I just can’t do that! At the same time, I shouldn’t put myself down too much. I am asked to share every time I visit this church. People did understand (I spoke using Luo). Some I think were very challenged. I did talk about bringing healing to pain that people carry with them day by day. I just couldn’t do it absolutely in a Luo-enough way. For those indigenous people, their deeply troubling issues were caused by rifts with their ancestors. Something that I still do not understand very well.

Sunday 24th April I was in church from 10.00am to 4.30pm. We had a ‘normal service’, followed by an ordination of two pastors. Hundreds packed into the church. One of the two pastors had been my bible-school student 22 years ago. His colleague, who was also there, now a regional overseer, reminded me of the same.

God willing, I should be at Norwich central Baptist Church, UK, from 1st May to 19th May. (Except 2nd to 5th May I am to attend this conference. )

20th May to 13th June I am to be at Andover Baptist Church, UK. (Except from May 30th to June 4th, when I should be at this conference: this conference.)

Best wishes to all,