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News for Mid December 2004

Dear friends,

Drawing close to the time of year at which we remember Christ's coming into the world, has caused me to reflect on our Lord as a baby. Who could have thought humanly speaking that one little child born somewhere in the Middle East was Lord of all the world!

The birth of babies is neither celebrated or announced here in Western Kenya. The reason most frequently given for this is the high likelihood that the vulnerable baby will die, the fact that an announcement will attract the attention of witches, and that a new-born baby anyway has no social identity. What then do people here make of Christmas? The Christmas holiday is the main holiday of the year. The timing is good, as it is a time of harvest and therefore plenty, but unlike our other harvest (in August) there is in December no great hurry to plant the next crops as January and February are dry months. Yet people struggle to understand why they should celebrate the birth of a baby.

The world took little notice of Christ's birth. Christ's life and death went on (and goes on) to transform the lives of billions of people. It was not thunderous, megga, particularly fantastic or expensive, but in it were the seeds of transformation that continue to blossom in the lives of many whose lives of despair are filled with hope. Pray that the message of hope represented in that frail body 2000 years ago will continue to lift the despairing into a relationship with their creator.

Tanzania Trip looms

I hope to begin the journey to Tanzania on Sunday afternoon (after church) with a steady ride to Nakuru. The whole of the following day we should be on the road. This will be a first time to go to Tanzania for my pastor from Ulumbi village, with whom I am travelling. Knowing him as a man with a great compassionate pastor's heart, I am looking forward to hearing him share with the believers in Tanzania. It looks as if we will be the main visiting speakers at Christmas services at the Tanzanian Church of God headquarters. Pray for God's guidance in preparing christmas messages. Our programme over the first week is very tight, moving from one church to another every two days. I hope to spend a day or two in fellowship with fellow (American) missionaries around Christmas itself. I need to be back at KIST on 29th December, as our opening faculty meeting for KIST I to be on the 30th! In addition to the many ministry opportunities that this trip promises, please pray also for safe travelling in (crazy) Tanzanian buses!

I am not planning to be in email contact again until 30th December 2004, or perhaps even later.

Wishing all a joyful Christmas, allowing Christ to be born into and then to grow in our lives!


PS I have prepared a draft of my proposed PhD thesis. I am looking for people to help me by reading through it and commenting on it. Please let me know if you are willing to do this. Thanks.