We arrived early for a fairly formal service of Holy Communion at the cathedral although Bishop Nick spoke very well about the power of God. Once a month, on the first Wednesday, Bishop Julius gathers the 100 or so clergy of the diocese for teaching. There are usually two guest speakers and the input lasts the whole day. The second speaker who was addressing the issue of climate change couldn’t make it which made the load lighter today.
The speaker who did arrive was excellent, a Ugandan lady speaking on truth centred transformation. This is a five year course similar to CCMP which enables churches to impact their local communities. It consists of seven stages, and the first two really spoke to us.
First of all, to make any change, we need to depend utterly on God. She took as her text 2 Chronicles 20 and then quoted the example of a church who devoted the day in prayer in order to work out how they could dig a well. They then found a church member who worked for the local government and could provide materials. She then posed the question: what if the church wanted to dig a second well? It might seem logical to go straight back to the church member. But actually there is still the same need to pray first and seek God’s will.
She then talked about the lies we need to confront. She quoted an example from the Dominican Republic where in the valley are poor farmers and on the hills above houses of prosperous Japanese immigrants. These came after the second World War and arrived with nothing. But they believed there was a point to work and they could change their situation. They grew rich while their Dominican neighbours remained poor. The difference was the way they saw themselves.
There is a link with the gospel. John calls the devil the father of lies and tells how Jesus came to set us free by His truth. The poor and vulnerable often believe untruths about themselves, that their situation will never change, that work doesn’t pay, that they have nothing to give.
At this point it was time for a teabreak. When we spoke to our speaker she was shocked to hear how directly relevant was this teaching to our own situation in England. We need to start changing the situation by making sure every church member understands through the gospel the truth about themselves. Only then can we hope to impact on the local area.
Then because there was time before lunch Bishop Julius divided the clergy into groups depending on how long they had been ordained. It was a real privilege to join the 15-20 year group. We held hands as we prayed and sang, and finished with the grace.
Lunch was served outside the cathedral and it was a good opportunity to meet more of my Kenyan brethren. The rest of the English party stayed on but Nick and myself accompanied our host Ven David for the afternoon: visiting a church member at home, dropping into a Kenyan supermarket and visiting Kenyatta Road school where Nick handed over some books donated by the children of a parish in Devon. Later on Ven David drove right into the centre of Thika to pick up sacks of feed for his small dairy herd. We managed to avoid the roller skaters who were travelling downhill on the other side of the road amid the tuk-tuks, lorries, cars, motorbikes and bicycles all competing for the same piece of tarmac.
In between we visited the Blue Post Hotel made famous by the book the Flame Trees of Thika and boasting to be the only hotel in the world between two waterfalls. Even though in a spectacular setting and owned by the presidential family, it has clearly seen better days. The souvenirs are predictable, the wildlife park a fairly sad place for the animals and there is a general state of disrepair. The only thing going for it were the samosas. It was good to sit and take a break from a busy week.