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News for Middle of August 2005

A question on my mind…

An enormous irony with respect to Africa, is that while known as run through with disaster, poverty, war, affliction, disease and suffering, it is also the location of endless ‘successful projects’ and endeavours! If so many Westerners are having successful praiseworthy projects in Africa, then why does the continent continue to be considered a basket case?

Perhaps the reality is too unfriendly for people to be able to cope with. Perhaps it is because people are too scared to come and live here amongst the African people, so they do their evaluations from far away. Such evaluations based on wonderful accounts related by pastors, bishops and community leaders usually do not consider that the latter are using language for some of their own purposes and to ensure that the tap does not run dry.

So what am I supposed to do? I don’t mind nodding and smiling in approval as people tell me ‘but the project that we are supporting is different’. I have been doing this on and off for years. This seems to be politically correct. It sometimes seems to be taboo to say anything that may undermine any activity (no matter how ill-informed) that anyone is involved in that seeks to move funds or the products of Western life into Africa.

Staying here in Africa, I have become more and more aware as to how people from Western nations construct an idealist world according to their particular beliefs, and then force the reality to appear to be what they think it should be according to their pre-conceived model. Any aberrations from the model are stamped upon. Vulnerability, especially from the English speaking world, is greatly lacking due to its great economic power. It is incredible that even Christians should operate in this way, given the Biblical principle of being sent as ‘sheep amongst wolves’. (Matthew 10:16)

I am ready to nod my head, smile and say nothing. God’s wisdom is greater than man’s wisdom after all. Who is to say that my time living in an African village has given me any special insights? I believe strongly in the unity of the body of Christ.

At the same time some of the issues affecting this continent burn strongly in my heart. Africa’s foreign policy leaves it incredibly vulnerable to the whims of Western nations. The stakes in terms of human lives and souls is high. My appeal is that we stop burying our heads in the sand and be ready to be used by God to face the world as it is, and not as we fanticise it to be. Please tell me how honest you want me to be. Pray for me to be filled with Godly wisdom every time I open my mouth. Pray that I will be able to listen and understand clearly. Please accept my failings as well as my strengths and leave room for us to go forwards in the months ahead!

YTC and KIST are all now closed for the vacation. Pray for the children that I will leave behind in my home. Pray for the ongoing Christian work here in Western Kenya.

I hope to arrive in the UK on 16th August. The following day we set off for a week’s family holiday. At the end of August I plan to go for 2 weeks of ministry in Germany (and Poland).

Jim Harries