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News for End of May 2005

Married and Gone

Please pray for Pamela (false name), aged 20 (or 21), who got married last Thursday 19th May. Pamela has stayed with me in my house since about 1999.
Two tall young men arriving at my home on Thursday morning (I was at KIST at the time) marked the beginning of the day of her marriage. The young men negotiated with those concerned for Pamela, who agreed to go with them, so off they went that day to a local town where she was to meet her husband for the first time. The home she has married to is just 10 or 15 minutes walk from my home, although it looks as if at least initially she will be living with her husband in Nairobi.

Concern at Global Poverty Action

Feedback from various folks prompts me to mention again the Millenium Village just the other side of Yala that is attempting to meet Millenium Development Goals with the help of megga funding under direction from the UN. Is this good or bad?

Judging from the reading that I have managed to do, the 'international community' is a bit stuck as to alternative means to share with poor communities other than massive funding. It seems clear to me that this is not a Christian strategy. Christ himself after all rejected this option, as recounted in the temptations in Luke 4 and Matthew 4. Christ chose the way of humility and to win people's hearts and not their stomachs. Many followed him after his feeding of the 5,000, but then turned their backs on him again when they realised his concern with spiritual over material welfare (John 6).

I do not agree with the implication of some of the reading that I have done on the debate on this project, that there is 'no alternative' course of action. Far from it, there are many alternatives for believers. We are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. That is, to walk with people as Jesus walked with people. We should not be fooled by those who suggest that such is wasting time when people are suffering from hunger. The causation of hunger is a lot more complex than the scholars are making out. It is not simply 'shortage of food' at all! Responding to a 'shortage of food' by providing massive funds may result in very unhealthy dependence. It also tends to make lies and corruption the basis of life. It can leave untouched or even accentuate some of the factors causing ongoing poverty. I could mention many of these - such as teaching children in school in a language that they do not understand, and failing to challenge the rule of the dead over peoples' lives.

I suggest it is time for a renewed effort in Christian mission. The new effort needs to make a break with the pitfalls of the 20th Century that have linked mission with the technological and material 'superiority' of the West. Surely it is time to go back to a New Testament model of mission?

Yala / Siaya

Pray for us at Yala and Siaya Theological Centres. A number of our Yala centres are struggling. Our teacher was almost chased away from the one home where he went to teach following accusations of mis-handling of money.
Attendance continues to be low in some other centres. Attendance averaging ½ over two weeks at Siaya Theological Centre has prompted us to begin moving amongst and visiting the people and church leaders that we know in Siaya to inform them and encourage their participation.

The way that Christian ministry has become a means of acquiring funds from the West, seems to be one factor resulting in churches in this area being actually against even if publicly for new initiatives such as this one in Siaya. It would appear that they are concerned that a theological training programme in their midst may begin to draw and coordinate foreign visitors who would otherwise come to them directly. Such creating a distance with foreigners would reduce the prospects of direct funding to them or their churches. To avoid such, it would seem that Siaya Theological Centre needs to concentrate on the use of local languages, and maintain a low profile and low level of economic operation, so as to continue to offer teaching to genuine learners while avoiding antagonising the jealous.

Give thanks for the enthusiasm of the young men whom we have helping us in the teaching.

Best wishes,