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Dear Friends,

Relationship problems beset human societies everywhere. Marriage issues usually feature strongly amongst those issues. My home community in Africa is no exception.

I was struck by a difference in the way issues are addressed. I recently visited a couple who were going through some marriage struggles. The wife explained things that had happened, how they had happened, and how she had come to make decisions on ways to go forward. In the process,it became very difficult for me to discern when she was talking about things that had ‘really’ happened, and when she was talking about things that she had dreamt about. In later discussion, another lady told us ‘I wanted to call you, but what I wanted to tell you about was the way you featured in a dream I had the night before’. Explanations between what we in the West would term ‘reality’, and people’s dream experiences, became interminably intermingled.

We ask ourselves ‘can I trust so-an-so’? Before we trust them, should we depend on them? But how can we know that they are dependable, until we are first vulnerable to them? “You can’t have trust without vulnerability,” I realised. That IS a bit like marriage . . . only 100% vulnerability will elicit 100% commitment, that will bring fruit of trust. Doubt your partner, and your marriage will be hobbled. Why should people want to cooperate closely with you if they do not trust you? Why should they trust you, if you are not ready to be vulnerable with them? That helped me to realise that my ‘success’ in mission can go no further than my vulnerability to the people I am seeking to reach. Strong people telling folks what to do, build the foundations for their own exit. My question is; how vulnerable to the people God has given me to reach with his good news?

We are in an interesting situation right now in Kenya, whereby police are on the lookout for children in school. Any child found in school in November or December may well be chased away by the police, and their teacher fined heavily. So intense is competition for good grades that many parents would have their children sit in school almost all day every day of the year. The government has had to intervene to ensure that children have ‘a life’ outside of the classroom, by having police check to make sure classes do not run during school holidays.

Sometimes colleagues recommend that I contact a certain Kenyan scholar about an issue. My response, whether I tell them or not, is that I cannot do that. Why is that? Kenya is so heavily leaning towards the West, so that Kenyan people know; a good word of recommendation from me a white man, to a Westerner, can make someone’s career. It could make them wealthy. Yet, if I throw money around like that, I will create envy, competition and man-pleasing all around me, leaving no room for an honest gospel of Jesus. Why, anyway, should I always commend people because they know English, when the really wise ones are there in the village dedicated to serving their own people? Should I not build on indigenous capacity rather than foreign incursions?