Today is Janani Luwum day. We set aside days so we never forget what is important. Janani Luwum was the Archbishop of Anglican Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga (Zaire) from 1971-1977.
In 1971, Field Marshall Idi Amin Dada became President of the Republic of Ugands through a coup de tat. The deposed President, Dr. Apollo Milton Obote was being hosted as an exile in Tanzania. There was trouble everywhere in Uganda including the borders with Tanzania. The army purges to cleanse the army of troops deemed hostile to the President were ongoing. The purges later spread to all Luo speakers and later to all professionals. Israelis were expelled. Indians were expelled.
Janani, together with Festo Kivengere, and other bishops stood up to Idi Amin. I thought this post would be about Janani alone but it is not possible for me to separate the two. Like Paul and Luke, their voices blended into one voice that challenged illegal detentions and extra judicial killings because they believed in a God who is just and good. They believed that their leaders should be good and just. They did this in sermons, in meetings with the President, in books, in their living rooms, in their prayers.
Janani is quoted as saying, we need to be Jesus to these people. Which people? The ones looking for their loved ones. The ones on the run. The ones facing injustice. The ones being hunted down. The ones no one cared about. They needed to be a voice of the distressed nation to a leader whose ears had dulled to his people.
Janani was ‘implicated in a coup’ arrested and murdered. Even in death, his memory was slandered- The government of the day said he was an escaped convict, killed in the act of escape. Festo left his cherished Uganda and became a refugee in exile. He later wrote a book, ‘I love Idi Amin.’
Church, I would like us to take a moment to consider the cost of our faith. On this day, what are you willing to stand for?
Who will be Christ to the hungry? Orphaned by corruption and greed. Who will be Christ to the thirsty? Watching the filth from our industries roll past their homes.
Who will be Christ to the naked? The victims of violence clothed in shame and ridicule.
Who will be Christ to the homeless? Carrying their boxes from street to street searching for a spot on the street to call home.
Who will be Christ to the sick? Searching for a doctor, a teacher,who is working three jobs to make ends meet? The leaders with more questions than answers. With solutions that come up short of the mark, every single time.
The despairing, crushed and lifeless youth stuck in the wheel of life rolling on. Filling up the mental wards. Trudging aimlessly from town to town.
Who will be Christ to the prisoner? Chained by impossible dreams. Crushed by unfulfilled hopes.
What is the price of your faith?
By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
Hebrews 11:24-26 NKJV
Moses is a witnesses of our faith, he left the passing comforts of Pharaoh’s household to suffer with God’s people. Have Pharaoh’s comforts veiled your eyes, Bride of Christ?
Will you accept the status quo or will you rise as the Son of God creation is anticipating?