9 January 2011
1st Sunday after Epiphany
I want to thank you for according me this opportunity to share with you, what I believe is a passionate message of my call. My gratitude goes, to all of you, Seekers, for your love, kindness, and generosity, but most of all, for your responsiveness to the Greater call of service to the Kingdom of God. My hearty felt gratitude go particularly to Kate Cudlipp, Pat and Trish, Jean, Jake and all of that have supported me.
Mat 3:13-17, John the Baptist, tried to abdicate from his responsibility of baptizing Christ, but Jesus told him that at that point, it was him, John to baptize him to fulfill what had been written by the prophets, in fulfillment of all righteousness.
Acts 10: 37-38, It is also written that he was filled with the spirit of God, and power, and so He went through the province of Judea beginning from Nazareth his birth place, doing good and healing all those that were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
We too must response and witness to God’s people by doing good, praying for the sick, for the nation as well.
My visits to the United States, introduced new concepts that I hadn’t learnt in school. In 2008, I traveled to San Francisco, CA for a leadership conference, where I learnt concepts such as Community organizing. I visited the US before to attend other conferences on peace, security, conflict management, dialogue as well as in New York, Dallas TX, Atlanta, GA, and Connecticut. Because my country had been going through war, I developed passion for peace, dialogue and conflict resolution. In 2006, I joined, a leading opposition party, and I contested for a parliamentary seat. I contested the election results in the courts of law. I was fired from my job, of Accountant, with a World Bank supported project under the Ministry of Finance, merely because of my political opinion. I started a Debt Collection company, but I couldn’t get government contracts, and so I closed shop. In 2007, I hosted a talk show in down town. Because of its popularity, a local FM station approached us to broadcast live. We mainly discussed topics ranging from social, development and politics. Government wasn’t happy, and so they labeled us enemies of the state. In September 2008, government shut all radio stations that had been black listed at anti-government. Frustrated, with all this, I registered a nonprofit organization, in April 2009, to primarily advocate against all forms of injustices, but most importantly to be a voice of the voiceless. I decided organize women groups into circles. I trained them in basic booking skills and businesses management. I also often wrote newspaper articles that exposed the unfairness with the electoral process, corruption and nepotism. I exposed the theft of the Global Funds money, meant for HIV/ Aids patients, failure by government to investigate and prosecute thieves of public funds, merely because some of them are connected to the first family. I was subsequently arrested but released later. I started to live in fear. I had planned to contest in this year’s parliamentary elections. I was promised a good job, if I accepted to join the ruling party, but I refused since my conscience wasn’t clear. I started receiving all threats to my life, and so I flee, fearing abduction.
In February, last year, came to the US, this time not as a visitor, but as an asylee. I traveled by road with different identities, into a neighboring country, escaping through the porous border. I bought a ticket and boarded a plane to the US. I had not seen my wife, children and family for a little while, since most of the time I was hiding, fearing to be arrested. I wasn’t even in the labor ward, to see my wife give birth our baby. These memories haunt me up till now. I couldn’t believe I was leaving my country, and that I would be separated from my family. Most importantly, I was saddened to the women groups, and communities, that I was sold out to serve. I had no choice but to leave. My foolish hope, fostering of positive change, fighting for equity, justice and bring peace ended. But, as an activist and an advocate of equality and justice, I was prepared to become destitute in a foreign land, and probably homeless, but not to compromise my childhood to serve poor and suffering people.
As I sat and lay back on my plane seat and I fastened my seat belt; my mind played back memories of comfort back home, but remembered the injustices and the horrific things that happened to me. A moment, later, I had I was awaken, to a bell. My name is Allan, your Captain for this flight. Time check is 11:55 pm. Welcome on board. Fear gripped me! I did know how I was going to begin a new life in a foreign country. I wasn’t sure whether the decisions I had made to be a voice for the voiceless was correct. The courage I had was waning away. The false hope was diminishing. My hopes had become meaningless and foolish. I wasn’t sure I had done the right thing. But I remembered the sacrifice Christ made for us as Christians, by laying himself for crucifixion, at Calvary with criminals for our sake. I became convinced. I was prepared not only to talk the walk, but also to walk the talk.
In our Christian walk, we often carry along with us burdens that are self-inflicting. At the beginning they’re merely bags, but along the way they become baggage.
Matthew 11:28, Jesus makes a resounding call, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Indeed, because we do not listen, we often carry along with us messages of foolish hope. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which Saith, by hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: Matthew 13:14-15
I, like many of us here, has met with challenges in life. I have also been confronted with dilemmas, often energized with foolish hope, some times when it comes to making critical decisions. I often found myself, held between the rock and the hard place, some times at crossroads, not knowing what to do or which way to take, whenever faced to choices to make.
Denis Waitley, the famous motivational speaker, writes, “Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.”
As a human being, we are sometimes confronted with two primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them. And in doing so, we have made decisions that have impacted on our lives. We are undoubtedly products of some decisions made by our fore fathers, many generations ago. Good or bad! Such decisions could have been made with foolish hope, yet they still live on today, many generations after.
As for me, I have been a victim of foolish hope. Yet still, I know that there is NOTHING FOOLISH ABOUT HOPE. PAUL TILLICH, a scholar of theology and Professor of Philosophical Theology, at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, ounce preached a sermon titled Right to Hope, at Harvard’s Memorial Church. For hope cannot be verified by common sense experience or rational proof. Hope is easy for every fool but hard for the wise one. Everybody can lose himself in foolish hopes, but genuine hope is something rare and great.
As human beings, we often feel doubt whether our own hope is foolish. When we develop ingenuity in our quest for hope, we should remember that that Christ who is the author and finisher of our faith will strengthen us, and walk with us side by side by side by side. This I believe is genuine hope, rooted in the foundations of creation. This kind of hope is the driving force that makes fulfillment of our dreams not only certain, but also possible. Aside, our precarious past of uncertainly and mistakes, we are asked to delight in the ever lasting God. Isaiah 42: 9, Yahweh declares, “…Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them. …,”
We can’t keep hoping that our future will be safe, from selfish and greedy leaders, who kill to retain power. We cannot keep hoping, when people that we have trusted, molest our children. We can’t keep hoping, when the world that we live in is in peril, threatened by global warming, oil spills, bad politics, HIV/ AIDS, unemployment, hunger, hurricanes, floods, just to mention but a few. We are after all not secure without God, as we are meant to believe.
Finally, when hope becomes foolish, Christ should be our anchor. Foolish hope tends to cover the truth, to make us feel vulnerable. My recent past, has taught me ONE BIG lesson; “To take personal responsibility for all my decisions, “and to avoid playing the blame game, and holding some one else responsible.
I have also leant one bitter fact of life, that the decisions that we make have a direct bearing on our destiny. As for me, I have accepted my situation and moved on, because there is nothing I can do about. As citizens of this earth, we have been confronted hard decisions in life, such regarding as marriage, our relationships, our careers, places that we visit, or live in, or even beliefs that we choose or congregations that we join. As Christians, we must live a life of hope, regardless of our past. We always hope for a better future, hoping that God will give us the Grace to over come obstacles.
Finally, let us do what we are supposed to do and allow God to exercise his discretionary prerogative by rewarding each one of us based on our individual accomplishments in this life that we shall have lived here. Apostle Paul puts it right in 2 Tim: 4 7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
God Bless You.