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Dear Friends,

A colleague recently commented, in response to some question or other, that ‘God brings the rain’. I found it strange, that I totally agreed with him! The reason I found that strange, is because back in my ‘homeland’ in the West, people think it is nature and not God that results in rainfall. Then I realised that the truth of ‘God brings the rain’ could be taken in two ways. Either, God is who the West thinks he is, in which case the sentence might be wrong. Or, God is who Africans think he is, in which case it is correct. The person who said it was an African. In Africa people define God as he did (as the one who brings the rain). So how could that be wrong? When we Westerners think African people are wrong in their understanding of God, we might just be wrong in our definition of God.

I was very pleased a few days ago when a colleague shared this review of my latest book.

I’ve just come back from praying for the sick here at Coptic hospital. Give thanks for this small, but maybe someone significant ministry. In one bed was a 7 year old boy, hit by a car today. Then there was a lady with a tiny baby beside her. In another room, 5 young men visiting their colleague, one very keen to prove Islam right and Jesus not. That brought a healthy discussion. Another lady was facing the likely imminent death of her husband, who had a massive stroke and is apparently already brain dead.

How many people are these days writing about Jesus? Have a look here to find out.

A colleague of some years ago re-appeared on Sunday. I couldn’t even remember his visiting me six or so years ago, although he remembered clearly. He said he would arrange for me to teach some pastors in his home area. Meanwhile, I am due to attend a seminar at an Anglican church where an ex-student of mine is the vicar 1st to 2nd October, in the same area. Give thanks!

Sunday 25th September, I headed to a church once led by a friend who died a few years ago. Unfortunately the church has collapsed. I went off down the road looking for another church. Getting a bit lost, I found yet another church at a place I had never been to before. I decided to cut my losses and walked in. An hour later when my turn came to share the Gospel, I asked who knew me, and almost everyone lifted their hand! People in these indigenous churches move, it seems, from place to place to find the group that is well led and active.

I find relating to these indigenous churches very challenging in many ways. Particularly challenging is the way in which they can say exactly the right thing, but practice something vastly different to what we would ‘expect’ in the West. Central to church services, for example, is often (as was the case yesterday) spirit-possession, trance-states, and discernment of untoward spirits. Yesterday our ‘prophet’ was so aggressive, he almost knocked me over twice, even though I stood at the edge of the church. My observation that their saying the right thing might not mean that they are doing what ‘we’ think Christians ought to do, emphasises the need for vulnerable witness that combines word and deed.