"When you begin to think outside the box, you often become some other "leaders" lousy follower. That usually costs something" (Andy Rayner)

"Our guardian angels are bored." (Mike Foster)

It's where I feel I'm at these days. “In the second half of life, it is good just to be a part of the general dance. We do not have to stand out, make defining moves, or be better than anyone else on the dance floor. Life is more participatory than assertive, and there is no need for strong or further self-definition” (Falling Upward. Richard Rohr.120).

Sunday, December 4, 2016

He Shut My Mouth

"When, through my tears, I began to tell him something of the years during which I betrayed him, he lovingly placed his hand over my mouth in order to silence me. His one concern was that I should muster courage enough to pick myself up again...."

Carlo Careetto

It Wasn’t About The Pilgrims

"There are many statues of pilgrims along the Camino, realistic and abstract, humorous and heroic, moving and maudlin. A few depict pilgrims of today, with nylon packs and running shoes, but most are like this one, a figure of long ago decked out in the classic pilgrim ensemble. León’s pilgrim is a weary figure. He has taken off his sandals and leans back against the cross as if to sleep. Before him is the Parador of San Marcos, a luxury hotel where he could never dream of staying. I sit down to keep him company for a while. It’s funny that in the old days, when pilgrims actually looked like this, there weren’t any statues of pilgrims. The statues then were of Jesus Christ, Mary, James and the other saints. They were the heroes of the Camino. But the old heroes have retreated to the churches and the heavens. The hero of the Camino today—or so these statues suggest—is the pilgrim himself, the pilgrim of old, pictured always as humble, stoic, pure of heart, trusting, possessed of an unclouded faith that today’s pilgrim can never hope to equal."
( Robert Ward. All The Good Pilgrims)

Pick A Stone Each Day

"She spoke at a Little Pilgrims meeting one Saturday about a discovery she had made on the Camino. Each day, as a kind of walking prayer, she would pick up a stone and fill it with her sorrow. At the end of the day, she would leave the stone by the wayside and walk away a little lighter."

(Robert Ward. All The Good Pilgrims)

Kiss The Son

Was reading an interesting verse in Psalm 2 today. The words jumped off the page at me. I swear, i never noticed them before. Psalm 2:11-12
Serve the Lord ...... Kiss his son, or he will be angry......
With the high honor of the Son enmeshed as the central point? Is there any more basic a call to the Father than this?

Serve God, Kiss his Son.....

This is an amazing call to worship, especially considering the Greek words God gave us to translate into our English word “worship”, have literal meanings such as, "to bend the knee", or "to kiss towards".
Anyway, been a long week here alone. I don't envy old people who live alone. That is very difficult. I find it a struggle. Lynn and I are lovers, but we are partners too. Partners is something larger than we are.
I am reminded today that there is a reason unreached people remain unreached. They are usually not near cities, there aren't any mission schools for missionaries children, there are no ready made teams to join, most require learning at least two languages, often geographically isolated, and to begin, you are often alone.
  • "Long before this winter snow I ran from pain, looking high and low For some fast way to get around Its hurt and cold. I'd have found, If I had looked at what was there, That things don't follow fast or fair. That life goes on, and times do change, And grass does grow despite life's pains."
  • ~ Mary and Bernard. Selection taken from, "Resurrection"
Yet, Jesus understands alone......
“That Jesus had voluntarily lost himself in an obscure Middle Eastern village; annihilated himself in the daily monotony of thirty years’ rough, miserable work; separated himself form society that :counts”; and died in total anonymity.” Carlo Carretto
He lived most of his life as worker, a wage earner, a bread for the table labourer. I am humbled to be reminded of this today. This is how I live my life too. Most of the year a wage earner, then kingdom work.... for a time. Will you pray for people to come and live, to immerse themselves, here, for unreached peoples? We don’t need visitors, we need people willing to be alone, in some very challenging places, where no one else goes. Realizing Jesus is enough for us, and them too.
Come and, “Serve God...... Kiss is Son.....”, here.
Henri Nouwen asks a good question in my readings today.
"Why do I keep relaying to you as one of my many relationships, instead of my only relationship, in which all other ones are grounded? Why do I keep looking for popularity, respect from others, success, acclaim, and sensual pleasure?Why, Lord, is it so hard for me to make you the only one?"
Forget about the big career of money, your degree you earned to secure a financial future, the fancy church ministry where people pat you on the back for your creative preaching, awesome growth, dynamic music, or amazing vision. Where we could be, and will be replaced tomorrow, if need be. Most, it seems, will Kiss the Son there, or in Kenya.
Come to a place where most will never see anything you do on a daily bases. Where you will be missunderstood. Come to a life that causes people to grow weary of your incessant stories. To a life where eyes will roll, as you go where most feet won’t go. Where ministry looks nothing like what we do at home. Come to the obscure place..... where even most “missionaries” don’t go.
Come Kiss the Son. Kiss the Son.......
“Pucker up, and help others to pucker up!” This is my new mission statement.
The world still needs courageous men and women....... Son Kissers.
Andy

Sunday, November 27, 2016

One Yard From Hell Missions

Some want to live within the sound
Of church or chapel bell;
I want to run a rescue shop,
Within a yard of hell.

C.T. Studd

Doing Something Worthwhile?

In our personal lives, waiting in not a very popular pastime. Waiting is not something we anticipate or experience with great joy and gladness! In fact, most of us consider waiting a waste of time. Perhaps this is because the culture in which we live is basically saying, "Get going! Do something! Show you are able to make a difference! Don't just sit there and wait!" So, for us and many people, waiting is a dry desert between were we are and where we want to be. We do not enjoy such a place. We want to move out of it and so something worthwhile.
-- Henri Nouwen

Around Life Pains We Go.....

"Long before this winter snow
I ran from pain, looking high and low
For some fast way to get around
Its hurt and cold. I'd have found,
If I had looked at what was there,
That things don't follow fast or fair.
That life goes on, and times do change, And grass does grow despite life's pains."

~ Mary and Bernard. Selection taken from. "Resurrection"

Say Not Many Prayers

"To walk in the presence of the Lord means to move forward in life in such a way that all our desires, thoughts, and actions are constantly guided by him. When we walk in the Lord's presence, everything we see, here, touch, or taste reminds us of him. This is what is meant by a prayerful life. It is not a life in which we say many prayers, but a life in which nothing, absolutely nothing, is done, said, or understand independently of him who is the origin and purpose of our existence."
(Henri Nouwen. The Living Reminder)

A Chitty Chat About God

"Today, many persons who seek or study God do just that. They study him in books, make him an object of speculation, approach him from intellectual curiosity. With what result? The more we study, the more our ideas become confused; the more we get caught up in discussions, the further we go from him...
Study is no longer the light of spirituality, and curiosity has taken the place of humility."
(Carlo Careetto. The God Who Comes)

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Physical Pilgrim

“This must be a very spiritual experience for you.” My response came so fast, it surprised even me. “No,” I said, “it’s a very physical experience.” She looked disappointed, but what could I say? It wasn’t my spirit that was doing the walking, it was my feet. And my feet hurt.
Not to say that the Camino was all pain, but it was all, or mostly, sensation. Heat, weariness, pain, thirst—not to extremes, but well beyond what my body was used to. And then relief. The rest in the shade, the cold drink, the breeze that sprang up from nowhere, the sting in the mouth of sheep cheese, the gasp as I plunged my face into a cold fountain. If there had been anything spiritual about my Camino to that point, it had come through the senses: the cessation of discomfort, and with it the unfocused reflex of gratefulness, that impulse to give thanks even when it was not clear to whom. Maybe that’s where spirituality begins."

~Robert Ward. All The Good Pilgrims

Pilgrimage of Malnourished Spirits

"The afflictions pilgrims bring with them to the Camino today are mostly of the spirit: doubt, alienation, boredom, stress, estrangement from family, disenchantment with work, lack of faith, and that all-pervading sense of something missing. In contrast to their ailing spirits, their bodies are usually well nourished and fit. This is a far cry from the old days, when the Camino was a walking infirmary, an endless procession of pilgrims seeking cures at the shrines of healing saints."

~ Robert Ward. All Good Pilgrims.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Leaky Love Tank

"Every close relationship has gone down the crapper at some point. I’ve known for a long time that I have a serious crack in my “love-tank”. Whatever goes in, leaks out – eventually. And I have become so accustomed to searching for love that I’m not sure I know how to live WITH love."

Drew Marshall, Camino Confessions.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

When Your Feet Betray You

"I had always seen myself as a walker, so I was not prepared for pain. If I had expected the Camino to be a test in any way, it was emotionally: would I be able to stick with it? As things turned out, that was the least of my problems. From my first step, my commitment to finishing was never in doubt. Instead, it was my body that threatened to “betray” me."

(Robert Ward. All Good Pilgrims)

No Predicting Who Has Problems

"Francisco told us the other night in Tosantos that by this point of the Camino we were past our initial aches and pains. Looking around here, I see little to support that view. Nowhere have I observed so many pilgrims looking quite so medieval, hobbling about on chafed and bleeding feet, their blisters pierced and threaded, their knees and ankles trussed. Walking is a mystery. There’s no predicting who will have problems. We have all met, on the one hand, that perky seventy-year-old who covers thirty kilometres a day with ease and, on the other, that strapping young athlete whose feet were a disaster from day one. Some pilgrims, when they run into troubles, rest or adjust. Others drive themselves, determined to overcome the pain, or convinced that pain is an integral part of pilgrimage, or trying to keep up with their walking companions or their itinerary."

(Robert Ward. All The Good Pilgrims)

Monday, November 7, 2016

Moving Past The Physical to The Spiritual Pilgrimage

"...Francisco speaks. He has much to say and often the Spanish eludes me, but the kernel is this: “On the first part of the Camino, the landscape is always changing. There are forests, mountains, rivers. There are beautiful towns and bridges. There is always something to catch your eye and take you out of yourself. The novelty of the experience distracts you, as do all the new people you are meeting, the human relations you are forging. Pain distracts you too. The pain of your feet, your legs, your shoulders. At the end of every day your body is tired from this unaccustomed effort. Your mind is tired too, from trying to process so many new things. With all these distractions and weariness, it is hard to focus on the things of the spirit. “But now, most of you have been walking for a couple of weeks. Your body has made adjustments. It no longer requires all your attention. Your mind too has passed through the initial stages of wonder and commotion and settled into the rhythm of the pilgrimage. This means it is free to think other thoughts. “In a few days you will come to the meseta, a broad, flat land that stretches to the distance in every direction. A place where there are no longer visual distractions, where there is nothing to look at but the sky above and the far horizon. There, you will begin to look into yourself. That is where the first part of the Camino—the physical part—ends, and where the spiritual Camino begins.”

~Robert Ward. All The Good Pilgrims

Don't Read About It - Live It

"...after supper, he saw me looking at a book about the Camino. He got really indignant. ‘Don’t read about the Camino,’ he said. ‘Live it!’ ”

~ Robert Ward. All The Good Pilgrims

Sunday, October 23, 2016

To Fast To Walk

"For ages, we humans have done everything in our power to go faster, striving to be where we want to be without all the time and bother of getting there. And there I was, the thankless inheritor, gazing out the windows of speeding vehicles and dreaming of walking."

(Robert Ward. All The Good Pilgrims)

Good And Bad Pilgrims

“A todos los buenos peregrinos. Y a los malos también.”
"To all the good pilgrims – and the bad ones as well."
– A PILGRIM’S INSCRIPTION IN THE GUEST BOOK OF ESTELLA

(Robert Ward. All The Good Pilgrims)

Friday, October 21, 2016

We Forget That Our Cross Cultural Preaching is More Dynamite Than Sugar For Locals

"We sometimes forget that we are heralds of a new and very shocking idea. The gospel is not just personal, spiritual good news which can be received by individuals, change their private lives, save them from destruction, but leave the society untouched. Our hearers will understand better than we do that our tidy sermons of God’s love are more dynamite than sugar; that our “good news” will have far ranging effects on their culture and lifestyle."


- Larry Vanderaa

We Forget That Our Cross Cultural Preaching is More Dynamite Than Sugar For Locals

"We sometimes forget that we are heralds of a new and very shocking idea. The gospel is not just personal, spiritual good news which can be received by individuals, change their private lives, save them from destruction, but leave the society untouched. Our hearers will understand better than we do that our tidy sermons of God’s love are more dynamite than sugar; that our “good news” will have far ranging effects on their culture and lifestyle."


- Larry Vanderaa

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Missionaries Taking About Church Too Much

"Let me give you an example of how the above paradigm influenced us. When we moved into our
village, Aamadu Suleyman was the imam of the village mosque. He was an old man, about twice
my age at that time. He was a godly man, wanting nothing more than to do the will of Allah. We
became good friends. I used to visit him two or three times a week in the afternoons. We had
discussions on religion and he taught me about the inner dimensions of Islam. Eventually, we
read Genesis and the whole of Matthew together in Fulfulde. We talked about Islam and
Christianity, Christians, churches, being Christian, etc. and etc. This went on for a long time, but
finally one day he said to me, “Laare, let’s not talk about this anymore, please stop trying to make
me become a Christian.” I was deeply disappointed. And then three months later he died,
suddenly, unexpectedly. I bitterly mourned his death.
But it wasn’t until many years later that I finally really “heard” what he had said. He had not said,
“Please stop telling me about Jesus”, but rather “Please stop trying to make me become a
Christian.” Evidently I had talked too much about religion, about Christianity, Christians and
churches to the point where Christ had been overshadowed, overshadowed by Christian religious
identity."

Larry Vanderaa

Codependent Preaching & Faith

Once the (true) Gospel is preached, I doubt if the churches would be filled. Rather, we might be out on the streets living the message. The discernment and the call to a life of service, to a life that gives itself away instead of simply protecting and procuring for itself in the name of Jesus, is what church should be about. Right now, so much church is the clergy teaching the people how to be co-dependent with them. It becomes job security instead of true spiritual empowerment.

-Richard Rohr

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Building Shape Discouraged Muslims From Entering

"In the early years one of our huts became the men’s gathering hut. When men came to
visit, we would drink tea there, talk about the news of the day, sometimes discuss religion
and even read the New Testament, all with no problem. Sometimes the village would hold
village meetings in the hut because it was neutral territory. After some years, the hut
seemed a bit small and so I decided to make it bigger. I basically had the hut stretched out
into a rectangle with rounded ends. But when the work was completed, none of the men
would go into the hut. They sat outside leaning against its wall, or under our nearby lean-
to. Finally I asked them what was the problem. They said, “Isn’t this a church?” I had to
calm their concerns and finally they agreed to go inside. But they still would tease each
other about who was the pastor and assistant pastor.
It was like they had a kind of allergy to anything that smacked obviously of Christian
religion."

Larry Vanderaa

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Missionaries Are Wishy Washy On Church

"There have been a number of attempts to fine-tune church planting strategies for Muslim contexts,
but it’s time missionaries develop radical, retooled-from-the-bottom-up strategies. We need to
begin by re-inverting our priorities. Instead of strategies that organize the few into churches, we
need strategies that prepare the masses for a movement towards Christ. This requires missionaries
with an intense focus on faithful witness. We need missionaries for whom the institutions of
Christianity do not loom large in the background and foreground of all that they do, introducing
Muslims to a Jesus with 2000 years of Christian history stuck to his back. We need missionaries
who resolve “…to know nothing while with [Muslims] except Jesus Christ and him crucified”;15 who
introduce Muslims to the Jesus of the Gospels and to the Kingdom of God; who let them take Jesus
home into their culture and trust Jesus to take care of the rest."

Larry Vanderaa

Sunday, October 9, 2016

If New Missional Movements Don't Succeed, Whats Next?

“What’s your plan B?”
What are we going to turn back to? Hasn’t the church tried every iteration of the business-as-usual model? Church growth theory. The contemporary worship scene. The charismatic movement. Neo-Calvinism. Better worship, better preaching, better small groups, more spirit-led ministry, more Bible teaching, more this, more that."

Michael Frost

If New Missional Movements Don't Succeed, Whats Next?

“What’s your plan B?”
What are we going to turn back to? Hasn’t the church tried every iteration of the business-as-usual model? Church growth theory. The contemporary worship scene. The charismatic movement. Neo-Calvinism. Better worship, better preaching, better small groups, more spirit-led ministry, more Bible teaching, more this, more that."

Michael Frost

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

God Does Magic In Worship Music According To A Missionary.

A missionary friend once told me he believed that if you worship in spirit and in truth, then this supersedes all musical, cultural and ethnomusicological boundaries.

Sounds like a nice idea, but it could scarcely be further from the truth. Let me explain why. Take, for example, a sitar player from India, a kora player from Senegal, an urhu player from China, a balalaika player from Russia and finally a charango player from Peru. Put them all in a room together and say: “Make music!” What will happen? There will be something close to chaos, much misunderstanding and they will be unlikely to find anything which they can all play and make musical ‘sense’ of together. And these are all stringed instruments with many structural and technical similarities. If we were to add wind or percussion to the mix, the complications would only escalate!

So, why is this? It’s because, just as each culture speaks a different language, so their ‘musical language’ differs. The choice of scale, the rhythmic patterns used, the shape of the melody, the way a piece starts and ends, dynamics, tempo and articulation all differ hugely from culture to culture."

(Rob Baker. Adventures in Music and Culture: Travels of an Ethnomusicologist in West Africa)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Your God Is A Dog?

"As we continue chatting and sipping tea, I discover that the word for ‘God’ in Moba is ‘Yendu’. A nice sounding word, I think to myself.  Remembering the much uglier Nawdm equivalent, I say to Thelma: “In Nawdm, the word for God is ‘Sangband.’” “Yes, I know,” she replies with a smile, “and the funny thing is that ‘sangband’ means ‘dog’ in Moba.” “Really? How curious!” “Aye, it does! And so the Moba often mock the Nawdm saying ‘Your God is a dog!’” Uncanny indeed! Fancy that! Who would have imagined such a coincidence could exist anywhere in the world?!"

(Rob Baker. Adventures in Music and Culture: Travels of an Ethnomusicologist in West Africa)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Evangelical Slaugther

“Evangelicalism as we know it today . . . does produce some real Christians . . . but the spiritual climate into which many modern Christians are born does not make for vigorous spiritual growth. Indeed, the whole evangelical world is to a large extent unfavorable to healthy Christianity. . . .  We are making converts of an effete type of Christianity that bears little resemblance to that of the New Testament. The average so-called Bible Christian in our times is  but a wretched parody of true sainthood. Yet we put millions of dollars behind movements to perpetuate this degenerate form of religion, and attack the man who dares challenge the wisdom of it.”
A. W. Tozer, Of God and Men

Preacher Cult - Churchy Thinking

"'Churchy' thinking is one of the great heresies of the modern church - the notion that unless one appears regularly in a certain kind of building labeled a Christian church, God has no relationship with them whatsoever. This is a manifestation of the current 'preacher-cult' in which the clergy emphasize church attendance as the heart of the religious life, and thereby maintain a Sunday morning fan club."

- Clyde Reid (1966)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Shut Up And Walk The Pilgrimage

"So why am I spending three months in silence walking The Camino then staying in a Spanish monastery on an island off the coast of the Sahara Desert?

I TALK TOO MUCH

Growing up, people in authority always told me that I talked too much. These days, I get paid for talking. (Nah Nah Nah Boo Boo!) But, somewhere deep inside I still believe that I talk too much. Actually, I think most people talk too much. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to the quiet ones. There’s something about the quiet ones that I envy. Maybe being silent for three months is something I hope will edge me towards whatever it is the quiet ones possess.
My “gift of the gab” has helped to endear me to many throughout my life. It’s also been the fuel for others to dislike me intensely. I’ve gotten out of stuff because of talking. I’ve gotten into stuff because of talking. At this point in my life, I’m just exhausted of convincing anyone of anything. I’m tired of talking. But I still love asking.:

~ Drew Marshall

Thursday, September 15, 2016

He doesnt love us

I was part of a missionary team in Morocco some years ago.  I asked the village leader why he had never given our team leader one of their names, a name that can only be bestowed on an outsider by the village leader.  He thought for a moment, leaned his head back and said that this man helped them, but that he didn't love them.

Taught me that if I wasn't there and truly loved people, that my "help" was not of much lasting importance to them as well.

I thought that the advice of Rik was also invaluable.

Clif Heeney

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Passion Scares The Government

"Passion is the capacity and readiness to care, to suffer, to die, and to feel is the enemy of Imperial reality. Imperial economics is designed to keep people satiated it so that they do not notice. Its politics is intended to block out the cries of the denied ones. Its religion is to be an opiate so that no one discerns misery..."

Walter Brueggemann

The Christian God Is Too Small For Me

"The God of many Christians is too small for me. The God who loves me when I'm good and hates me when I'm bad...
God loves you as you are, not as you should be. Because none of us are as we should be."

~Brennan- The Movie

Monday, September 12, 2016

Whites Corrupted By The Tropics

"Certain volunteers seem to go to extreme lengths to prove Conrad's thesis that a white man's soul is corrupted by the tropics. They arrive in an exotic culture having read Magnum and Conrad and act as though they had been programmed to disintegrate. I have seen a few volunteers shortly before they resign from the organisation with the same muddy complexion as the fellow who sits at the next table, those same dazed, sunken, and inward-looking eyes, that same careless and rather disgraceful way of dressing...
... that type who has been tossed and twisted in another culture that he can't make sense of, a man at that certain point in his cultural confrontation just before he throws up his hands in surrender and flees."

(Moritz Thomsen. The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers)

Completely Human

"She was not really beautiful, but there was a tremendous calm power that radiated from behind her pleasant but ordinary features. It was an absence of hang-ups, a sense of joyful acceptance, a glow of pleasure at the miracle of being alive. In one second she communicated to me that rare and beautiful sense of being completely human."

(Moritz Thomsen. The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fakey Light

"And I’m exhausted from continuously trying to “manufacture” Light. I know others who think no one can see that their Light is manufactured." Drew Marshall

Let's Skip Normal

I don’t do normal well. One of the things I love the most in life is talking to people that society has cast aside. (What term are we supposed to use these days? Weirdos? Freaks? Losers? Socially unaware? UNCLEAN?) They always love to talk. I love to listen. They always have a story. I get bored with everything BUT story."

Drew Marshall

http://caminoconfessions.com/2016/06/20/sacred-silence-training-day-12/

Your Pilgrimage Is Too Short

"With such an inspiring Christian history of pilgrimage, it is saddening how Christians have reduced Christian pilgrimage to an obligated walk from a parking lot into a sanctuary. " 

(Andy Rayner, A Spiritual Life Without A View)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Church- I love Your Fight For Survival

You have to be labeled as Bitter.
They have no choice, you see.

You can love and serve Jesus, and people, all you want. You can study and gather with other Jesus people often enough, but the Sunday morning building crew will never, ever, no not ever be able to bless you if you are not at their thing. They think their form of church OWNS the definition of church. Their thing, is the only thing.

Because that whole system rises and falls on everyone being there. The definition of success is when more and more of us are there, and only there. When you stop being their volunteer, their financial support, the whole manly system falls.

Therefore, if you are not there to help them succeed,  they see us as setting them up to fail.
So you are the enemy. Bitter...

They will write articles and post FB memes that carpet criticize anyone doing anything other than their thing on Sunday. 

So, if you wonder why church people are so angry at people who don't go to their kind of church: They cannot entertain the idea that believers can actually meet, grow, and be healthy outside their structures. They have to deny any possibility of the like, to save themselves 

That freedom and partnership can not be extended, that release of people to be free to follow Christ and gather in various ways can not be tolerated, because that packages success is based on the view of gathering you, your time, your money, your activity.

It does not matter how silent you are, or non critical you are of what others choose to do.  To them you are critical, negative, or bitter, simply because you will not submit to their game play.

We can say this... but they cant believe it 

We don't hate your church.
We are happy you have a place that works for you.
We are happy you serve there.
We are not saying you have to do it our way.
We are not saying we are right, you are wrong.
We are not following nor promoting a new church model or cool trend.
We are not trying to build anything.
We are not asking you to change anything.
Often, we have never asked a church to change anything they do.
We don't want to fight about it.
Has nothing to do with, "not getting our way"

And above all, your guilt trips, labeling  and criticism does nothing to woo us back.

We get it, you posture at us, to warn the remaining sheep .... see, see those bitter people. You have to paint what we do as so bad, as so dark, so people will not even look or ask questions.
I loose nothing if you will not gather with me. You loose everything if too many people choose not to gather with you. You have more  at stake.

I love you. I come to your box church from time to time. But i am tired of how you treat me, accuse me, and talk about me. I was not bitter when i chose a simpler path. But looking at you from over here has me blinking my eyes, real hard, as i see and hear your reactions.

You actually don't have a clue about what i do, or believe, how i study, or gather with others, because we have never even had one conversation about it. You don't want a conversation, or a blessed coexistence.  Because you have to be against it no matter what, right? Can't entertain the idea, as give an inch the members might take a mile. That hurts the success thing.

So, i don't take it personal.

No, I'm not bitter. But  i am unimpressed by your behavior towards me, your brother, who studies serves, and is part of the church.
But it no longer hurts me. Your church, is not my church. My church, my Jesus, my God help shield me from you, the nasty side of you I've come to see after the fact.

I love your fight for survival, never give it up. But I'm not your enemy, I'm the church too.

So I'm happy....
I'll be back from time to time.
I bless you.
Don't change a thing for me.

But I'm not bitter.....
Are you?





Mouthy Translators

"As in Sassanou, I have another long-winded interpreter, who definitely seems to be adding his own commentary to what I say. At one point, I merely say the word ‘patience’ and he speaks for almost a minute (leaving me to put the word to immediate use!)"

(Rob Baker. Adventures in Music and Culture: Travels of An Ethnomusicologist in West Africa)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

We Want Money Missionary

"Totally exhausted, sweating onto my notebook so much that my pen won’t work, and longing for a nice cool shower, we round up the afternoon by all meeting together in the main room again. It’s all I can do to muster up the energy to thank them. They are thankful too and – all things considered – the final recordings are pretty decent, with a good variety of styles and instrumentation. Then it happens: one of them pipes up with, “It was good, but we wish the workshop had been better organized!”

I’m defensive: “Better organized? What do you mean?”
“Well, so that we would receive some money from you.” Money?

They want money from me! This is a never-ending issue for the expatriate working in Africa: all too often, the issue of money rears its ugly head! To be fair, it does vary depending on location; the Bogo over in Sassanou never asked me for a penny and – in fact – gave me several gifts as a token of their appreciation! My theory is that the closer to the coast and/or to a big city you get, the worse it becomes.

“Money! What for?”
“For participating in the workshop!”
I pause for a moment, then continue:

“Let me ask you some questions.
Firstly, Ifè participants, did you pay for your transport here?”
“No, it was free,” they reply.
“And, everybody, how much have you had to pay for your accommodation during this workshop?”
“Nothing.”
“Right. And your meals?”
“They were provided free of charge.”
“And what about the hours of technical work I’ve put in to record your songs? Do I get paid for that? And my travel from Cotonou – it cost me 40,000 CFA. Nobody is paying me for that! Furthermore, I will go home from here and spend several days editing all your songs and making the cassettes so that you can benefit from them. You will then each receive a cassette of your songs, also free of charge. And still you ask me for money?”

The issue of per diems as they are called is still a contentious one. You see, I just spoke as a Westerner, from a Western viewpoint (and a particularly worn-out, fed up Westerner at that!) Now, the African viewpoint is very different: they’ve given up time to come and take part in this workshop, so should be ‘rewarded’ for this. They’ll also have lost several days’ income, which is not going to appear out of thin air, and they need to feed their families somehow. Finally, in Africa, if you have a friend who is richer than you, then it would be completely normal for the rich friend to give some money to the poorer friend. In the West, we try not to mix friendship with money, in case it spoils it; in Africa, friendship and exchange of cash often go hand in hand, almost as a way of cementing a friendship.

“That’s all I have to say on the matter.” I add. And we end the workshop. Just like that. I’m way too exhausted to continue debating this with them.........

Culture is a massive thing, and cultural differences – or misunderstandings – are at the heart of most friction and stress for an expatriate overseas. I’ve seen perfectly lovely people (Germans, Americans, French and – I have to add – Brits) losing their rag with Africans, because things didn’t happen ‘just so’. We are conditioned to seeking perfection, creating a world where everything is clear cut and runs according to certain rules (and woe betide you, should you veer from those!) Africa is not like that. Sure, there are rules, but things are often more fluid, negotiable, adaptable; and this is not a bad thing, it’s just how things are done here."

(Rob Baker. Adventures in Music and Culture : Travels of an Ethnomusicologist in West Africa)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Eliminate The Laity

"I don't want to eliminate the clergy. I'm trying to eliminate the laity. I'm trying to ordain everyone to the work to which God calls them"

Michael Frost

Friday, September 2, 2016

We like Background Leadership

"The desire to be a great leader is dreadfully dangerous. . . A soul really called to a great mission, one that keeps in union with God, will go slow, pray much, make little noise over the call, and seek to keep self in the background."

George D. Watson

We Don't Have Any Money To Be Sick

"Have you given him any medicine?" I asked.
"Yes, yes," he said. "We gave him aspirin and vitamins every day."
I shook my head.

“You know that's not enough. You've got to get him to a doctor. You've got to go to the mission hospital."

A look of shame and embarrassment crept onto Kanyenda's face. "Teta katuena ne falanga to," he said. "We don't have any money."

There they were. Those five words: "We don't have any money." They were permanently stitched to the sleeve of serious illness in Kalambayi, speaking like an epitaph for 90 percent of the chiefdom's dead and dying."

(Mike Tidwell. 'The Ponds is Kalambayi. pig 130)

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Sahara Is Tough

"I grew up in Libya in abundance and I believed my people lived in similar conditions. My father never told me.

This is pure hunger. Life in the Sahara is hard. It's tough even for the young people so how can the elderly take it?

I can't  stand the way my people are living here. People here can't even bathe. There is no light or electricity. No phone network to stay in contact with the world.

At night it is really cold here. People living in this desert are constantly getting sick.
A lot of illness. They don't have hospitals,  they don't have medical tests.

People get used to it but my God this Sahara is tough. This Sahara is tough.

(Mahamad Hassan Tuareg in Sahara Desert)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sacred Drums For Worship....

"One guy comes up to me, buzzing with enthusiasm: “You know, when they play those big drums for village ceremonies, it usually makes people go into a trance. But today there was no trance when we played them!” Wow! I might have thought twice had I known this was a risk. However, I’ve studied trance quite a bit and – as a general rule – when the object of worship and the heart of the worshipper change, then trance will not occur. It’s a big issue in redeeming ‘pagan’ music for church worship and one which has caused some churches to fear even trying to play local drums. With time, though, all of these can be redeemed for God’s glory alone."

(Rob Baker. Adventures in Music and Culture: Travels of an Ethnomusicologist in West Africa)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Africa Scenes

"As I edge my way around one of the more acute bends, Mrs Kwadi lets me into a secret: “Rob, the road back down on the other side is even worse than this.” Great! That’s something to look forward to then.

We reach the top and the road flattens out. We’re on the Danyi Plain, one of the prettiest parts of Togo. Even the villages you pass through seem well-ordered, pleasant places: square buildings made of earth, but with tin roofs and tidy wooden shutters, blossoming red flame trees, friendly stalls selling fruit and vegetables, pretty yellow hedgerows and majestic palm trees – it all seems very civilised."

(Rob Baker. Adventures in Music and Culture: Travels of an Ethnomusicologist in West Africa)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Stone Dry Hearts

"While sitting on the bank of a river one day, I picked up a solid round stone from the water and broke it open. It was perfectly dry in spite of the fact that it had been immersed in water for centuries. The same is true of many people in the Western world. For centuries they have been surrounded by Christianity; they live immersed in the waters of its benefits.  And yet it has not penetrated their hearts; they do not love it. The fault is not in Christianity, but in men's hearts, which have been hardened by materialism and intellectualism."
  
... Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Story Allows Wisdom To Be swallowed

"Story is the palm oil with which wisdom is swallowed. "

(Yousufu,  Guinea , West africa. Heard on BBC Podcast about Eola and how story was used to spread messages.)