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Dear Friends,

By the way folks; I am postponing my 50th birthday. Some of you may know that it is due on 12th June this year. I am declaring myself a year younger than I am, so as to be able to celebrate 50 years while in the UK, God willing, in June 2015. So then, my ‘official’ 50th birthday will be in June 2015!

Marilyn James has recently been helping me to prepare a certain article that I have written, that we are hoping to submit to a secular journal on development. Pray for this process, that it may succeed and be a witness to a largely ‘secular’ readership. The article is entitled: ‘Faith in Christ the Way Forward in African Development’ (let me know if you want a copy).

For a call for papers to the Vulnerable Mission Conference to be held in 2015 see here. Pray for plans we are now making for conferences to be held in the UK and Germany in April and May of 2015.

Just another funeral.

Someone from my church was needed to bless the site of the grave, I was told. I went along, to find 20 or so senior villagers gathered under a tree. When the rain came, we diverted to sheltering under a tarpaulin instead, trying to position ourselves to avoid the leaks. Discussion ensued re. the correct location for burying the late 26 year old single mother of one. Had her father had a home, she would have been buried alongside the gate, we were told. But, her father died when she was very young, as did her mother. She was to be buried at her grandmother's homestead. It was decided that just outside the area of the homestead, up from where her grandmother was laid to rest, was the best spot for her. We went to the spot. I read from the Scriptures and prayed, before cutting a cross-shape at the proposed site of the burial with a hoe.

Later that night, some lads thought it was a good idea to cut the electricity supply to the funeral to throw them into darkness so as to steal food. (We are in the hungry season.) In the tension that resulted, a young man of 28 or so was hit on the head with a machete. He died the following afternoon. This funeral had already generated another funeral.

My role was to chair the funeral proceedings. The brother to the deceased had lived with me for about 3 years a few years back, so I was in some ways ‘family’. On the day of the burial, many testified to the illness and sudden unexpected death of the late. Although she herself had apparently thought that her end was nigh, others hadn't agreed with her. My colleague gave the Gospel message; which he truncated as it started raining as he spoke. After we finally laid the body to rest, angry people started cutting down trees that had been carefully planted by people of that home. They were angry because the brother to the late had not yet been allocated his rightful piece of land.

A day in the life of . . .

My bicycle saddle almost broke off! This necessitated purchase of a new shaft (for 30p), and time spent getting a repair job done.

Thereafter about 3 miles of uphill cycling in extremely sticky conditions got me to the home of a friend and fellow church member. He had been sick for a while. He’d been numerous times to the government hospital 35 miles away. Every time he went for an appointment, it was cancelled. Travelling back and fore had depleted his financial reserves. So he has opted for traditional medicine. This is also anticipated to cost over £100; but at least they are doing something (unlike the bio-medical services, who it appears are dependent on a system of paying bribes that my friend has not been able to work out) and have given him some medicine (for £10) to start off with, so he is doing something! We chatted, I encouraged him, I read from the Scriptures, and prayed for him.

Thereafter a house-group meeting at 2.00pm was attended by about 8 ladies and me. They gave me opportunity to share from the Scriptures. They all seemed to value what I had to share. But, I couldn’t get as excited as they wanted, so once I was done the leader among the ladies took 10 more minutes, by the end of which all (but me) were on their knees crying and sobbing in repentance.

Meanwhile, big rain clouds were gathering. Nevertheless, I rode 2 miles back into town. Our own cell group was to be held that same afternoon. I managed to get to three locations . . . at each of which I was told that the meeting was elsewhere. Then I did go home, and just in time, as shortly after I got there the heavens opened and a prolongued downpour ensued.