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News for Mid September 2007

Teachers at Yala and Siaya Theological Centres nowadays work as volunteers. We have no money to give to them. The system of offering support or salaries from overseas for such services creates many difficulties. It is hard to make it work in this cultural context.

I explained this to a colleague in Yala. His response was something like the following (my translation from Kiswahili):

"Yes, that's how it is. When it's spiritual things, everyone is nice and friendly. But talk about money, and it is machetes. As soon as the issue of money arises people run for their machetes. Christians all over Kenya these days are fighting each other with machetes over money! Like that other American who came. He wanted to help people suffering from aids. He approached a church and said that he wanted to work with them. He had 7,000,000 Shillings (about ?51,000) he had raised which he gave to the Bishop. When they realised this, the people under the bishop being jealous immediately started writing letters to the American telling him that the Bishop was corrupt and was abusing the funds. The American fired the Bishop, who ran away. Now all the Christians were meeting each other carrying machetes as they tried to find the missing money. That's how it is in Kenya when Christians meet big money. Christians who should be loving each other, carry machetes."

I do not say that the above is literally true. I don't know if it is or not. But it is the kind of thing that people are talking about. It illustrates the dangers of and damage done by donors. It's the kind of thing people can have in their minds when it comes to foreign donor money. The image is frightening - Western donor visits being followed by bloody fights between Christians, of which the donors themselves (already back in the West) may be totally ignorant.

Many people here are very aware of such difficulties caused by donors. But they tend to see them as an unavoidable component to 'development'.

Please pray for:

   * A public lecture I am to give at KIST on 19th September in Kiswahili, looking at issues of linguistics and international dialogue as they relate to the church.

   * An interdenominational seminar that we are now planning to be held just over the border in Tanzania December 8th to 16th. Topic: Evangelism and family life.

   * This is the opening week for Yala and Siaya Theological Centres. Pray for our classes and teachers. Give thanks that we have opened KIST and are in the second week of teaching.

   * Pray for developments in the Alliance for Vulnerable Mission, as we are working on locations for conferences in 2009.