Norwich missionary's new outreach concept
2009: Norwich missionary Jim Harries has been back to visit his sending church, Norwich Central Baptist Church to introduce a new concept of mission which involves using only local resources and languages.
Jim explained, “There should be some missionaries from the West whose ministries are conducted in the language of the people being reached, without use of outside financial subsidy. Projects like these bring a refreshing freedom.”
Jim works especially with the Luo people - the tribe of President Obama - in Western Kenya, in theological education. Jim studied development at UEA in 1991; disillusioned by secular development practice, God led Jim into Bible teaching ministry. Jim teaches at an American-based Bible seminary known as Kima International School of Theology, as well as two grassroots theological education programmes.
Jim’s village home has neither running water nor electricity. His home languages include Dholuo and Kiswahili but not English, so as to identify with the local people.
At a recent visit to Norwich Central Baptist Church, Jim told about a group of indigenous churches that have been started by Africans themselves in Kenya. Many of these, having little interest in pleasing foreign donors, express a very characteristic ‘African’ form of Christianity. This often includes lively singing, healing and prophetic ministry, driving out of troublesome ghosts, sometimes dancing, and poor time-consciousness!
Jim uses his bicycle to transport himself to churches and to Bible classes. This, he told a fascinated audience at NCBC, means at times riding through rain, getting stuck in mud, or being scorched by the tropical sun between his African village home and local churches or Bible classes.
The concept of mission which Jim is advocating is known as “Vulnerable Mission”. Jim is a founder member of the Alliance for Vulnerable Mission. The Alliance believes that the prevalence of donor activity and widespread use of English these days can act as a barrier to Westerners seeking to work closely with African churches.
The AVM recently held eight international conferences (in the USA, UK and Germany), which have put them onto the map in the missions world. For more details about this organisation and Jim’s work in general see www.vulnerablemission.com
Pictured above: Jim Harries preaching at an indigenous church