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Dear Friends,

“More and more people these days have two genders,” is a rough translation of the term I heard in a discussion between local pastors here in Kenya a few days ago. The example given, was of someone who claimed to be a boy one day, then a girl the next. “What to do if such a person wants to join your church?” was the question. “Tell them to decide on one gender then to stick to it,” was the answer given by my colleagues. The question of ordination of women also came up. “When Jesus chose his 12 apostles, he did not include any women,” someone said, “so why should we now?” These days we are told to use hybrid-seed when planting our crops, we were told. We discussed that also. One person volunteered, that the reason was simply because people selling seed wanted to make money (you have to buy hybrid seed every year, and it is expensive, whereas if you grow non-hybrid crops, you just keep your own seed). So much of our discussion was responding to issues being brought to Africa by the West, that were not biblical, and that are very hard to understand without a lot of knowledge of history of and the ‘culture’ of the West. What should pastors advise their people to do?

I was not a particularly active discussant, as I was more intent on hearing what my colleagues had to say. I also recognised that the answers that I knew would not make much sense to them. Recent practices by the West are very confusing when translated to Africa.

A number of my colleagues emphasises that they would stick to the bible no matter what! Those African people who use the bible as an excuse to not use modern medicines can come under heavy criticism from the West. In the light of the full picture, though, the presence and use of the bible leaves African people with something that makes sense to them and works for them. Without it – all they’d be left either with chaos, or to obediently follow every meaningless fad they are fed from the West. (Is that what the West expects?) Even what appears to be quite wrong may not be so wrong in the light of the fact that what is ‘right’ (according to the West) is communicated in a way that doesn’t make sense to African thinking.

to africa in love

My latest novel is now out! This is a ROMANCE, that at the same time teaches about mission, about how to relate cross culturally, and about how not to do things in Africa. It also tells, indirectly, in fictional form, a bit about the life and ministry of Jim Harries. (One has to use fiction in order to tell truths that are otherwise too sensitive.) Order your copy here for just £8.99.

Give thanks for and pray for a pastor from Tanzania who is to spend over a week at my home from tomorrow, 27th April. I hope to take him to different ministry contexts. Give thanks for my recent visitor, a Kenyan pastor, who spent a week with us. Please pray for my mother in UK, who tells me her health is not very good. Give thanks for small ways I have been involved with Easter celebrations here at the Coptic Church. (Orthodox churches this year celebrate Easter one week later than do Western churches.) Please pray for my plan to spend July this year in Zambia, hopefully doing ministry and visiting some of the people and places I knew 28 years ago. Welcome to our conference, to be held at All Nations Christian College, UK, 8th to 11th December this year.