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News for Mid December 2007


'Safiri na uone' (travel and you'll see) say the Swahili. 12 days travelling and ministering in Tanzania have enabled me to see some things.

The travel went well. I was able to meet up with one of the lads who used to stay in my home - now with a wife and two children, and teaching theology for the Mennonites in Tanzania. On my first visit to this theological college 10 years ago I knew nobody. Now when I go, almost all the staff are our graduates from Kima. From there to Mageta took another day's drive, and found a team of three of us sharing in a seminar with a very rural Mennonite church. The topics - witness to non-Christians, home and family and evangelism were interesting and, (at least for me!) valuable.

I also learned a lot about 'myself'. Many local people apparently did not attend our seminar because they heard rumours that we were wanting to split their church and start another church. "The problem is aggravated because one of our visitors is a white man" said the pastor on Sunday. I can't say I don't understand - as when Whites go somewhere they almost invariably try to acquire power for themselves, and it was hard for people to believe that I was coming for two years running simply to teach, and then to leave. (Financial investment in some project is of course 'self-empowering' for the donor and easily causes churches so split.)

Discussing such scenarios with a Tanzanian friend, I was told that Whites despise each other. He has British people come to visit him regularly. But, he shared, whenever one set of visitors meet another set, they don't even greet each other! Those who come are very insistent that they be hosted not by a European but by an African. Visitors from the West want to know that they are doing their thing with the 'Africans', and no other Westerner should deign to interfere. Western visitors will not encourage Africans to engage in the project of another Westerner - instead it seems everyone thinks he is the bees knees.

I could say a lot about that. Am I as guilty as everyone else - in thinking that I alone am the person who is key to progress in Africa? Do I also despise my fellow Westerner in Africa? (Does my writing this prove this to be the case?) I hope not. Why does this happen? Many reasons of course. Westerners who come to visit an African church can quickly become jealous of the activities of other Westerners. I believe this is rooted in an insistence on believing that African people are not different from Westerners. Many foreigners come to 'prove' that African people are 'like us' but simply lacking resources. When Brit. A comes he builds/invests in X. Then when Brit. B comes he is impressed that the African can do X, and he makes / leaves Z. When Brit. C comes he is impressed with X and Z and he does / leaves Y. Neither Brit wants to discover that actually a fellow Brit. did / left X, Y, Z! Every Brit. likes to know that they are the only one helping this church. Every one in their promotion will picture themselves alone with the Africans, and each group of foreigners refuses to cooperate with any other group, or so it seems.

What kinda testimony is that?

Pray: for a fellow missionary Goodrick, and Bishop Makokha of the church of God in Kenya following a violent robbery a few days ago.

Pray for Kenya in the run up to the elections, due to be on 27th December 2007. Tensions are running high.

Alliance for Vulnerable Mission.