Kings Family CMS Link Letter 7, Sept 1987

by Graham Kings

Date added: 28/12/2023

Last month the world came to Kabare. Theologians from Latin America, Asia and Africa, plus a few from North America and Europe (including Yugoslavia), came to this little hill to discuss, ‘The Living God in Contemporary Life’.

For me, as the consultation secretary, they were the most hectic, challenging, and thrilling days since I took my finals ten years ago. There were 57 people who needed accommodation, feeding, and travel organising. Alison became a ‘consultation widow’ for ten days but a friend who teaches at the CMS Training College in Birmingham, Joanna Cox, was visiting us: she was good company and helped out very much with the children.

The most exciting moment for me was when I was given a hand-delivered letter saying that the three black South Africans, whom we had been trying for days to get into the country, were arriving at Nairobi airport at 11.30pm that night. The Bishop immediately drove down the 85 miles to collect them and I welcomed them here at about 2.00am. The Rev Frank Chikane is the new General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (a post Desmond Tutu once held). After his paper on Black Theology, he gave a moving testimony of his six periods of detention without trial: one period of torture lasted for 50 hours non-stop and, horrifically, one of his torturers was a deacon in a white church. When he was eventually brought to trial he was acquitted - but then had his house burnt down at 2.00am in the morning.

Dr Cyril Okorocha told us of the recent Muslim riots against Christians in northern Nigeria, where he and his family had only just escaped with their lives. Fanatical Muslims had burnt many churches to the ground, including the university chapel where he worked. His whole theological library and three books in manuscript form, ready for publication, had gone up in flames.

Theologians from the Philippines and South Korea discussed similarities and differences in their democratic ‘revolutions’, and one from Peru spoke of the colonial heritage and recent cancellation of debt repayments. What would have happened if Peru had claimed back all their gold taken since the 16th century,  with interest? There were also important papers on the biblical foundations of the doctrine of God and others on the Living God and other faiths.

Our Bishop, David Gitari, was chairman of this third consultation of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Mission Theologians in the Two-thirds World – what a mouthful! This phrase, ‘Two-thirds World’ is preferred to ‘Third World’, which many feel gives the impression of inferiority and of only a third of the world’s population living there.

The previous two consultations had considered the person of Christ (Bankok, 1982) and the Holy Spirit (Mexico, 1984). The papers of the first are published in a book edited by Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden, Sharing Jesus in the Two-thirds World (Marshall): we still await the second book and now, of course, the third to complete the trinity.

The consultation opened with a spectacular five-hour service in our newly consecrated cathedral in Embu. Five Canons were installed, including Gideon Ireri, the Principal of St Andrew’s Institute, who has just left for the USA to study for a master’s degree in mission studies at Yale. The Bishop has asked me to fill in as Acting Principal for a year before we go on leave at the end of July 1988. Alison reckons I am getting my act together. At first, I was not at all sure about the appropriateness of an English Acting Principal in the later 1980s, but in the circumstances, it seems right. So, do pray for this extra job on top of being Director of Academic Studies. I have been encouraged by the welcome of the staff and students at the beginning of term.

The Bishop had chosen 12 July for the consecration of the new cathedral to coincide with the Nairobi pre-Lambeth conference of African bishops. It was attended by 45 bishops and seven archbishops. A colourful procession through Embu town started the service for which a new liturgy had been specially written by Kiara Gathaka, our worship lecturer here, and Diocesan Director of Communications. The climax of the service was the enthronement of the Bishop, accompanied by five ululations (traditional trilling sounds) from the Mothers Union.

Immediately after the consultation we had three weeks holiday in London for my cousin’s wedding. It was marvellous to see our families again, and for them to see Katie Wambui for the first time. Back home now, she continues to crawl and roll. Rosalind returns from her Kikuyu nursery school to type on the college computer. Miriam is delighted with our two new cats (Joshua and Noah), which we have inherited from friends. By the way, why is Melchizedek like Joshua? Answer: because he has no genealogy (Hebrews 7.3) and Joshua is son of Nun. Earlier this year, Alison saved our chickens from a mongoose attack.

Thank you for all your prayers and support. CMS is experiencing a financial squeeze at the moment: is now a good time to review your own and your church’s budget?


PS my expository poem written at Easter this year.


       Luke 18:18-30


In the world, the ruler can buy his own way

with influence, riches and law:

For the kingdom, the cost is too high to pay -

joining the life of God’s poor.

Trust and interest in temporary wealth

do infinite damage to eternal health:

Trust in the King, interest in the poor,

make future heavenly treasure sure.


The rising cost of living,

solidarity and care,

Means the only rule for giving

is “more than you can spare”.


But just when you reckon

the rich are so depraved

and, possessed by their possession,

they’re unable to be saved,

Right through the needle’s eye

Zaccheus gallops apace.


As much as you may try,

there’s no accounting for grace.

Graham Kings

Graham Kings

Wood panel

Wood panel

A bronze