Can an established nation like America learn some things from a brand new nation like the Republic of South Sudan? Can rich and comfortable people learn some things from poor people whose lives are characterized by suffering? Can Christians who have been well-versed in the Bible learn some things from Christians who have very little awareness of the Bible? To all of these, I say a hearty YES! Here’s how.
Give some thought to the sacrifices involved in creating a free country. Give further thought to the responsibilities involved in maintaining a country free. Take a look at some pictures of South Sudan taken by the Boston Globe’s photographic blog. They began their photo-blog with this quote:
“The world has a new nation. The Republic of South Sudan officially seceded from Sudan on July 9, ending a 50-year struggle marked by decades of civil war.”
I couldn’t help but notice the euphoria and joy that trumped their superficial poverty. They have so little, but they have so much in their hearts. They have a new country, but very little infrastructure. What priorities do you give to building a strong, durable country? This is what a new friend of mine has been doing.
I am honored to be able to call Dr. Celestin Musekura my friend and I invite you to follow his work. He is the founder and president of A.L.A.R.M. (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries).
He started this organization in 1994 in response to a crisis of Christian leadership in Africa following the genocide in Rwanda. He was born and raised in Rwanda and his family was touched by the genocide in that country. So his book, “Forgiving As We’ve Been Forgiven” serves as a model as well as a guide.
What’s the greatest need in Africa today? Dr. Musekura says that poor leadership is their greatest affliction. Many countries in Africa struggle under the rule of greedy and self-serving leaders, who see their positions as opportunities to amass wealth and consolidate power at any and all costs; stirring up tribal animosity, instilling fear in the masses through murder, displacement and rape; and rendering democratic processes ineffective through injustice and corruption. I think we can learn a lot from watching how these African people free themselves from tribal factions to enjoy a higher level of unity. Nothing can empower this kind of unity more than our unity in Christ. When I look at the fragmented church in America, I see the need to learn from our African brothers and sisters. Here a just a few quotes from his book that address the role of Christian forgiveness in achieving this freedom.
“We cannot simply forget. But when our memories have become a burden, the practice of forgiveness does invite us to learn how to remember our pasts differently.” (p. 92)
“I’ll never forget sitting across from Celestin and hearing him say that his mother was being cared for by the people who killed his father.” (p.97)
“Our unity will triumph over our diversity and become the hallmark of our authenticity.” (p. 104)
ALARM is committed to equipping men and women in east and central Africa to answer the urgent call for servant leadership in the church and in hurting communities. Through a biblically sound, culturally relevant and needs-based leadership program, ALARM trains pastors, church lay leaders, women, youth, civil society leaders, local government officials, military chaplains and tribal elders in the biblical principles of servant leadership, good governance, mentorship, appreciating diversity and community initiatives. Using a ‘train the trainer’ teaching approach, ALARM is developing leaders at the heart of African communities who are equipped and empowered to effect change where it is most desperately needed. In this way, ALARM is providing essential skills and tools necessary to help move Africa from bad leadership to servant leadership; from dependency to self-sufficiency; from fatalism to aspiration; from abject poverty to abundance and economic prosperity.
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