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Dear Friends,

I was at a mid-week fellowship yesterday for a 'shouting and wailing' church. Made me sooooooooo aware of how little I actually understand of what goes on in local Christianities. My efforts at sharing seem futile – it can seem like they just don't hit the mark. I understand what people say . . . it doesn't connect to me, I think much of it is about Luo ancestors, hence it doesn't register in my brain. I understand pretty much every word, but I don’t know what the speaker is getting at. The effort at listening to the high-volume high-speed testimonies and preaching that make such obscure sense I guess contributes to my getting so tired, I'm dozing in the midst of the noise. Just some of the challenges of missionary work in Africa . . .

Saturday I went about 20 miles by bus, then 8 miles by bicycle, to visit a certain widow. Her husband lived with me about 1998 to 2001. He died from TB/AIDS in 2009. In about 2011, she was at death's door with AIDS. She was back at death's door last year. In 2011, finding her at death's door, I agreed (under pressure from her) to take her lad, aged now nearly 14. She has now moved to her husband's land, a long way off (as above). She lives in a little mud house with her youngest daughter, basically in the midst of fields.

I visited for about 2 hours. Give thanks - she is going to church. We chatted about all sorts. I shared from the Scriptures. Encouraging a victim of AIDS . . .

Yesterday I went to visit an old widower. He must be at least 70. His wife was a lot younger, but cancer took her away. He's lonely. He lives alone. His only son is unmarried, apparently due to an addiction to some kind of narcotics – that have become more important to him than would-be wife and family. I visit the old man periodically, sharing from the scriptures. This time it seemed right that I not carry my Bible but just share in fellowship. The name of the old man is 'witchdoctor'.

His son was in his house. That was good news I think. He was lighting a stove, to cook, presumably for his dad and himself. The kindling burst into flame as I was there, then died again before I left, as I talked to the son. The dad, apparently, was asleep. I encouraged the son to be diligent in following Jesus. (He's a member of a church, he tells me, that doesn't do much with Jesus.) The old man has regrets. He has drunk alcohol. He thought it was 'harmless', but now thinks that his example might have been what led his son astray. He is waiting to die. I am praying that, before he die, he find 'life'! Sharing with people whom life has given a raw deal . . .

I’d last shared at this church about three years previously. I decided to go again. It was a long hour’s cycle along a very rough road! When I arrived, I sat on a pew. The pew collapsed! I sat on another, listening to 20 or so children sing in praise to God. In due course, a lady came and told me; ‘the pastor has called you’. I went to his small mud house. I had never met him before. He introduced himself. I explained why I was there. We shared on a variety of things. It was about an hour later that the church service actually began. As we began the procession towards the church, he turned and whispered to me; ‘you will be giving the word today’. When we sat in the church, the congregation was about 20. As time went by, it increased, till it reached about 70. I was given opportunity to share the message. They took a love offering for me, which totalled about £4.00, then about 4 hours after my initial arrival, I set off down the road to home. Everything throughout was conducted using the Luo language. Being dedicated to people who are trusting in God . . .

See this article, hot off the press: Faith in Christ the Way Forward in African Development Harries, Jim, 2017, Association of Christian Economists (UK), Publications,