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News for end of December 2003

Dear friends,

As I write I remain with just 6 days before I am due to travel to the UK.

I spent two days over Christmas visiting the faithful of the Legio Maria church, a breakaway from Roman Catholicism, at a site that they call Ephesus. We went with the dual aim to promote Yala Theological Centre Bible classes to their leaders, and to learn how a church functions under African leadership with minimal outside intervention:

5000 people dressed in brightly coloured robes and gowns were packed onto two acres of land over a wet few days. All were obliged to go barefoot. Improvised booths (tents) 4 foot high, 3 foot wide, and perhaps 8 foot deep covered some sections of the compound. Other places filled with temporary shelters for the sale of tea and chapatis or rolls. Religious artefacts such as Roman Catholic rosaries, wooden crosses, prayer books and gowns were on sale from path-side booths. A large incomplete (roofless) church was being constructed in the middle. Below the church people gathered around priests receiving prayers and messages from angels scrawled in indecipherable lines, kneeling, chanting and praying. Above the roof-less church, two or three large buildings devoted to the adoration of the founder members of Legio-Maria, one containing the grave of the lady know as ‘Maria’ the ‘mother’ of the founder Ondeto. The faithful fall flat on their faces as they worship in these buildings. Everywhere are pictures of ‘Maria’, Ondeto and Jesus and large and small crosses. Some of these artefacts are being sold, others are on display and others are carried on the end of long poles. … (--- Full report in my next Journal ---)

Thanks to those who have been praying for the children we have been hoping to add to those with whom I am staying at home. We have accepted one 13 year old orphan boy who is due to move in tomorrow. Another boy will come tomorrow to stay with us for a few days in anticipation of our taking him on.

One of our Yala Theological Centre teachers, Philip Opiyo, unfortunately did not do well in his teaching last term. The YTC Board has met and has decided that we must now look again for a replacement. Please pray that the right young man will be found who will be motivated to help us in the teaching at Yala, and for Philip to find a new direction in his life after being with us for over 2 years.

People may be wondering why we loose our teachers so often. Knowing that there is a white man involved, they often come thinking that YTC will give them a cushy job earning a lot of money. This attitude is re-inforced by their fellow students when they come to study at KIST. In reality the task is difficult, and there is little money.

Best wishes Jim