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Vulnerable Mission

[9] Shared with me during informal discussion with ‘Roho’ believers in Nyanza Province of Kenya on many occasions. See also Hoehler Fatton (1996:xiv).

[10] In Dholuo demon is commonly translated jachien, as is Satan/Devil. In Kiswahili pepo is considered to be a demon. Mary Douglas provides a good example of ways in which African traditions have been ‘demonised’ in: Mary Douglas, 1999, ‘Sorcery Accusations Unleashed: the Lele revisited, 1987.’ 177-193 In: Africa: journal of the international Africa institute. 69 (2) 1999, (PDF) (accessed 21.10.05)

[11] Tinyiko S. Maluleke, 2005. ‘The Next Phase in the Vernacular Bible Discourse: echoes from Hammerskraal.’ 355-374 In: Missionalia. 33:2. (August 2005.)

[12] As claimed by: Rick Warren, 2003, The Purpose Driven Life. Michigan: Zondervan.

[13] H.W. Turner, 1979. ‘The Hidden Power of the Whites: the secret religion withheld from the primal peoples.’ 271-288 In: H.W. Turner, (ed.) 1979. Religious Innovation in Africa: collected essays on new religious movements. Boston, Massachusets: G.K. Hall and Co.

[14] Aloo Osotsi Mojola, 2003, ‘Holiness and Purity in the Book of Leviticus – a problem in the Luyia dialects.’ A paper presented at AICMAR – AST, Butere, Kenya on August 12-15, 2003.

[15] Placide Tempels, 1959, Bantu Philosophy. Paris: Presence Africaine.

[16] For discussion of the co-identity of nyasaye and life force, see: Jim Harries, ‘‘The Name of God in Africa’ and related contemporary theological, development and linguistic concerns.’ In Press. Exchange, Journal of Missiological and Ecumenical Research.

[17] The vital force of Tempels seems to equate to an Old Testament understanding of ruach (spirit).

[18] See Okot P’Bitek, 1971, Religion of the Central Luo. Nairobi: East African Literature Bureau, p.47.

[19] Latin, nd. Latin to English Dictionary: spiritus. (accessed 6.05.09)

[20] This having parallels of course in Western concerns about ‘abuses’. Adults may be said to be troubled following abuse as children. The thing that is talked about, the ‘abuse’ is the evil. Much news reported by the media is ‘bad news’. But, in British English such ‘bad news’ that trouble people are not known as ‘spirits’.

[21] These terms are loosely translatable into English as heart, ghost, witchcraft, spirit, and god.

[22] These terms are commonly translated into English as spirit, ghost, heart, god.

[23] See Missionalia 35:3 (November 2007), for example: Bryan Born, 2007. ‘Promise of Power – how new Pentecostals responded to rapid social change in Botswana.’ In: Missionalia 35:3 (November 2007), 43-66, p.64.

[24] Pneuma could, by ancient Greeks, be considered to be daimonion (Eduard Schweizer,1968, Pneuma, Pneumatikos. 332-455 In: Gerhard Kittel, (ed.) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Volume IV. Michigan: WM. B. Eeerdmans Publishing Company. p.345.) and daimonion were considered by some to be “the spirits of the departed” (Werner Foerster, 1968. Daimone, daimonion. 1-20 In: Gerhard Kittel, (ed.) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Volume II. Michigan: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p.6.).

[25] In saying ‘can be’, I mean that one possible translation of pneuma is God, because pneuma hagion is considered to be a part of the Godhead. Other pneuma may not be part of the Godhead.

[26] For more on this see Jim Harries, ‘‘The Name of God in Africa’ and related contemporary theological, development and linguistic concerns.’ In Press. Exchange, Journal of Missiological and Ecumenical Research.

[27] I.e., I take meaning in language as arising largely from the context in which it is used, and not primarily or certainly not only in semantics – the words themselves.

[28] There are many reasons for this suggestion. One is because a theology inevitably needs deep roots, and the deep roots of Western theology can much more clearly be understood by Westerners than by non-Westerners from East Africa. Because understanding is a prerequisite to communication, this suggests the importance of having Western theologians crossing from the ancient seats of the Christian Gospel into new lands, rather than having East Africans (for example) teaching their people theology as a result of short stays in the West. One would hope also that a Westerner’s understanding of science will enable him or her to distinguish and thus separate out science from their theology – which is notoriously more difficult for those within holistic African world views.

[29] Or more.

[30] See: Jim Harries, nd. ‘The immorality of Aid to the ‘Third World’.’ (accessed 4.02.07)

[31] I have argued this in the following article: Jim Harries, nd. 2006. ‘Difficulties in Giving: what to give, how to give, why to give, who to give, when to give, if to give?’ (accessed 6.05.09)

[32] Martin Wolf, 2005, ‘How to Help Africa Escape Poverty Trap.’ (WWW) (accessed 16.05.05)

[33] Almost every Westerner working in Africa, I suggest, is heavily pre-occupied in handing our Western money and resources in one way or another.

[34] In the sense of always wanting one’s own projects to succeed by applying great outside subsidy, in this way always being in charge of what is happening through control of purse strings even if technically nationals are in charge.

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Category: In Depth, Summer 2019

About the Author: Jim Harries, PhD (University of Birmingham), is is professor of religion with Global University and adjunct faculty with William Carey International University. He works closely with a wide variety of churches in western Kenya in informal theological education. These include many African founded churches, Pentecostal churches, and the Coptic Orthodox church. Jim uses indigenous languages, and local resources in his ministry. He chairs the Alliance for Vulnerable Mission and is the author of Vulnerable Mission: Insights into Christian Mission to Africa from a Position of Vulnerability (William Carey Library, 2011), Three Days in the Life of an African Christian Villager (New Generation Publishing, 2011), Theory to Practice in Vulnerable Mission: An Academic Appraisal (Wipf and Stock, 2012), Communication in Mission and Development: Relating to the Church in Africa (Wipf and Stock, 2013), Secularism and Africa: In the Light of the Intercultural Christ (Wipf and Stock, 2015), New Foundations for Appreciating Africa: Beyond Religious and Secular Deceptions (VKW, 2016), and a novel African Heartbeat: And A Vulnerable Fool (2018). Facebook: Vulnerable Mission. Twitter: @A4VM.

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