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Onwards and Upwards!

Short-term Retirement!

Well! It seems that my hoped for retirement from travel was only a short-term retirement. I guess that is what happens when the last twenty years have been short-term trips! Although I have had to juggle many plans, it seems that I have a pretty full diary for the rest of the year. So, watch out Devil! Stan, Stan the Missionary Man is back on the road again. The first part of my non-retirement started with a Macedonian call to USA to help a friend who was in need indeed. I mentioned this in my last ‘news’letter. I did what I could to assist my friend. The church was in a terrible state. Many key people had left. I was given full pastoral responsibility and found myself in the middle of a hurting and confused people "like sheep without a shepherd". The finances were in an impossible situation. After four weeks, apart from pastoral support of the members, there was little else that could be done and so I wrote a report to the board recommending that the church should be closed down. There were many good churches around that people could otherwise attend. This recommendation was not accepted and as the leadership wanted to continue it was decided best that I return to the UK. I must admit I enjoyed the challenge and now have a new resource of anecdotal stories for teaching seminars of church leaders. With two months back in England, an empty diary and no job to distract me, I am planning to visit and catch up with the many people that I have not pestered for a while. This includes the Devon area, Spain and good old (sorry mum, not so old!) parents.

Modern boils!

I got back from America more suddenly than I thought. Having expected to be there for at least six months I decided it was pointless keeping the lease on my flat and there was a family in my church that has made good use of my car. While I was away, the architects firm that I have been working with on a part time basis to fund trips went into liquidation owing me a fairly large sum of money. I joked with a friend that I came back from America "Homeless, carless, jobless and penniless... but thankfully not Godless!" Then I added with a wry smile "All I need now is the boils" (Remember Job?). A hospital appointment followed and the consultant wants me to undergo another TRUS and biopsy. The TR stands for Trans Rectal! I think I would sooner have the boils! The rest I will leave to your imagination – or perhaps not!

Africa Calling!

Ever since I first went to Africa I have had a great love for the people and place. October 2nd will be the twentieth anniversary of my first visit to Kitale and the start of my love affair with that great continent. I am ever drawn back. I only have to see an acacia tree or an elephant on television to know I cannot keep away. I will be back there again in August for four weeks on one of my usual busy schedules. It has been nearly a year since my last visit and I look forward to a reunion with many good friends. The schedule for this trip forms part of this newsletter. One highlight will be to introduce Kickan Wakeford to Kickan Mudenyo! Peter Wakeford was the man who first introduced me to Africa and while he was there a child was born and named after his wife. It will be a great occasion to see the two Kickans meet. Another positive to come from this trip will be to see the beginning of the translation of my "Unity" book translated into Swahili. Following the success of the book in India in the Telagu language, it will be good to see it in Swahili. It was first written with African church leaders in mind. Bishop Andrew Odoke has really run well with the vision for unity and is eager to begin the translation work. I will supply him with a laptop computer for the purpose. He is also organising unity conferences in new areas, one in Nyanza, Kenya and the other in Uganda.

Open or Closed?

How many times have you heard someone say "I am waiting for a door to open"? It can be used as an excuse for inactivity. Jesus said "Open your eyes and see. The fields are white for the harvest but the workers are few." I see so many doors open that "I am waiting for the Lord to close some!" One open door that I will be pushing on is the Congo. I have been developing friendships with the Congolese refugees both in Nairobi and the camps in Tanzania through Pastor Jeremiah Rukukuye. The purpose in this was to have contacts in Congo when the war subsided. Now the refugees are going home and I will be looking at possibilities of moving back to Nairobi, possibly next yeard, from where it will be easier to reach the Congo. After so many years of turmoil, the fields there are certainly white for harvest. I have been encouraged by the response to the gospel in Burundi following the civil war there.

Out of Africa!

Once I am back from Africa I will be quickly back in America. Not to the same ministry as before, but visiting other friends and attending two Mission Conferences, one in Louisville, Kentucky and the other in Eaton, Ohio. These are good and encouraging times and it is good to "rub shoulders" with other missionaries and learn from them and their experiences. November will see my return to India. It seems that I continually reschedule my India trips for various reasons. My earlier trip to America caused me to again postpone my visit there. I have dates set and flights booked so I am trusting that this return to Rajahmundry in Andre Pradesh will happen. Two unity conferences are planned (possibly three) and evangelism in the villages. The last trip was very fruitful and saw somewhere between two and three hundred making a positive response to the gospel. I look forward to renewing my friendship with pastor Joshua Geddam.

The Lord Direct Our Steps.

Proverbs 16:9 says "A man's heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps." Over the last year I have had several changes of plans. I even called the last "news"letter "Stan’s Plans". If all the things I had planned over the last twenty years had happened I would have needed to be twins or triplets. I get excited about planning, even the trips that do not happen. In my early twenties I planned to hitchhike to Australia. We planned for months and even the local newspaper ran an article about it. Within two weeks I was back home, having made it as far as France! You could say that the door closed, but the fun and excitement of planning that trip was worth any disappointment.

"The fields are white for harvest." Let me challenge you to step beyond dreamimg dreams and start planning to put one of those dreams into action. The worst that can happen is that the dream will not materialise. Change "I cannot" into "I can do all things through Christ who is my strength."

If I may misquote: "It is better to have planned and lost than never to have planned at all!"

Go on - I dare you.

   
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