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Home Thoughts

"Oh to be in England now that Aprilís here!" OK! So itís September! But the sentiment is the same. I have often remembered this poem by Robert Browning when I have been in arid places during the English springtime. This really is a beautiful country and the Kent countryside is still up there with the best in the world. I have often been in desert areas, areas of drought and places where the harvests have failed and thought of England. There is almost a longing inside us to be home.

There is a spiritual longing to be home in us too. Not everyone recognises it. We are made in the image and likeness of God, our Father and He calls each one of us to be with Him in His home Ė heaven. We can never be truly 'at home' until we are at home in His love. The emptiness and longings that we so often try to fill with other things will never be satisfied until we are satisfied in God.

King David, writing from the barren wilderness in of Judah was thinking of heaven when he wrote, "O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water." The dryness was both physical and spiritual.

A New Home.

Returning from my last trip in Africa (of which more later) I felt a longing for a home. I am grateful for those who have given me somewhere to live over the last years but I needed somewhere that I could call home. Now I have just that. A quiet, peaceful home in Charlton. In a sense that is also a home coming as I was brought up and lived in Charlton. It was great to unpack my few stored boxes with my gifts and memories of more than twenty years of travel. It feels like a true missionaries home.

I was not so excited when I first saw the garden. When Adam sinned, God told him that the land would bring forth 'thorns and thistles'. He is true to His word. I have nearly succeeded in converting a jungle of thorns and thistles into a fairly neat garden. It's the first garden I have had and am not sure what the seeds etc that are now waiting spring will turn into. When Paul wrote 'We are more than conqerors' He had oviously not come across ivy!

Home Call - George Opara

On the 2nd October 1987 I stepped off the plane after my first inter-continental flight at Nairobi. I was met by a man walking with a stick who I learned was George Opara. Over the years we became very good friends and although we went through some very tough things together we remained close friends. He was the founder of The Lordís Ministries in Kenya. That ministry has also been through tough times but is now flourishing and in the hands of his son Eric. This ministry, together with a large family that for the most part is serving the Lord is Georgeís great legacy. I last saw George in May and he was very weak and in great pain. I prayed with him. This was to be the last time I was to meet him. A testimony to the number of lives he touched is evidenced by a report that almost 10,000 attened his burial.

Africa Ė My Second Home

In my last newsletter I reported that when I was in Africa last year I looked very seriously at the possibility of moving my work and home base to Kenya. Unfortunately, the tribal troubles that flared up after the political unrest earlier this year rendered that to be impractical. The security situation together with hyper inflation have made that unsound. This was a factor in my deciding to find a permanent home in London. However, my last trip in March was a very fruitful trip and a very painful one. Let me outline the highlights.

First Highlight... (Publications) I had been told by many of my African friends that the 'Unity' conferences were needed more than ever as the divisions resulting from the clashes had affected the churches. I was delighted that the printing of 4,000 copies of the unity book in both Swahili and English coincided with my trip. We were able to give copies to many bishops, pastors and other leaders at the conferences.

Second Highlight... (Rebuilding communities) Not such a happy note, but a highlight in terms of opportunity. Most of you will have scenes of the terrible tragedy of the church being burnt in Eldoret with some 35 men, women and children inside. I was able to hold a unity seminar with church leaders, pastors and bishops in Eldoret. In addition to copies of the book to those attending, copies were also left for those who were unable to attend. I also arranged for books and unity seminars in Nairobi, Nakuru and Webuye, all areas where the violence had reached. We can only play a small part in reconciliation, but every move that helps to bring healing is powerful and beneficial. There are still many copies of the book in Nairobi and I hope to be able to arrange for their distribution, even in my absence. Bishop Justus Wanjala, who is chairman of the Nairobi Pastorís Fellowship also held a very powerful all day meetimg of repentance, healing and reconciliation with over 2,000 church leaders in Nairobi.

Third Highlight... (refugees returning home) Although I have been into Congo in other areas before, I was delighted to be able to reach Uvira at last. I have been friends with Pastor jeremiah for several years and it is through him that I visited the Congolese refugee camps in Tanzania. What a joy that many of them are now returning home and I spent a happy but tiring time in Uvira. Evidence of the civil war is all around a I was particularly moved by a memorial in one village to over 600 people, men and women, old and young who were massacred in one day. It does bring home the reality of war and of manís inhumanity to man.

Although Kenya does not hit the news so often as before, it still needs much prayer. Many ae still displaced and afraid or unable to go back home. Although the official figures of those displaced was high this only represented those in displacement camps. Almost every home I visited had family members from other tribal areas staying with them. It will take many years for Kenya to be healed from these troubles.

... And Finally

Surgery for prostate cancer in March caused me to cancel a return to Africa in June and also a visit to Philippines in August. Please pray fo my continued recovery. The cancer is gone but the physical discomfort is still with me. I do not want this to limit my ability to continue in this ministry.

God bless you.

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