One of the most famous sayings from President Yoweri Museveni’s granary of sayings is one which goes: “Lubaare mbeera nga n’embiro kwotadde” (‘May the gods help me’ as you run for dear life). This saying is derived from Luganda language, meaning that as you pray to your deity to save you from danger, you do your part by running away from the danger.
The saying is from the olden days of our forefathers but its wisdom stands the test of time and, assuredly, it fits in with our present circumstances very well. For me, it summarises the mindset that Ugandans must possess if we are to escape from the clutches of poverty and any trails of backwardness and underdevelopment.
As a strong Christian and leader, I am regularly among believers, worshipping and communing with them. In my current posting, I have interacted with worshippers from virtually all denominations (without discrimination). I am a member of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church and I have attended a number of services, celebrations and activities within the SDA community of believers. I sometimes host meetings at my home.
I have also attended many functions of the Catholic Church and worshipped with them; Protestants, Muslims, Born Agains (Balokole). Last week, I was in Kapyemi in Kagadi at Bisaka’s place where I delivered by belated condolences upon the demise of the much-revered Owobusobozi, Mzee Bisaka, a great friend of President Museveni. The faith is still strong and development-oriented under the new leader. It’s always a pleasure being among worshippers because with God all things are possible. We gather before Him to gain inspiration to face the world with confidence and to right ourselves before Him that he may bless us, bless our children and bless our land.
On some functions, I have attended to represent the President and his message is consistent and realistic.
First of all, President Museveni is a devout believer in God who has blessed him in leadership and given him great wisdom and health, and favour of the people. The President’s life story is one of miracles; his very life is a miracle because he has survived danger many times by the hand of God. As Ugandans, we are blessed to have a leader who fears God because then we have hope for prosperity here on earth and hope for eternal life hereafter.
Whenever I have represented the President at religious functions, the message is always that believers should work to go to heaven, but also work for prosperity on earth, in their communities.
He has given the live example of early converts in his native Ankole who took the biblical scripture of storing up their wealth only in heaven literally, at the risk of living deprived, regrettable lives on earth. The mistake that some believers make is to think that places of worship are refuges for those who have failed in life; those who only remember God in times of need, forgetting that in the Garden of Eden, God decreed that man will eat from his sweat.
When Jesus was asked by the Pharisees whether people should pay tax, he said “Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and God what is God’s”. One cannot pay tax if he or she is not working. One cannot pay tithe if he or she is not working and earning. I don’t know of a case in the Bible of someone who was not industrious but who was prosperous.
Even the Israelites when God fed them with quails and Manna in the desert, he had not yet given them a land of their own, therefore, he fed them directly. But after he delivered them to the Promised Land, they tilled the land and believed in him to prosper them by blessing the work of their hands. Until now, Israel, a small country, is very prosperous and a power in the whole world. It has very innovative and hands-on people who are creating great impact in all fields-science, military, industry, medicine, research, and academia, name it.
God wants us to be diligent; to be co-creators. God doesn’t want lazy believers because even knowing and serving him takes effort. Faith alone does not bear fruit but it must go with works.
Having believers who expect miracles without working is dangerous to them and society at large. They risk temptation to doubt God and to engage in crime for survival much as they harbour god intentions. They also risk being exploited by false prophets who promise unrealistic benefits.
Faith unites us, as we all serve one living God and in unity we find prosperity. Government and its leadership is in place by God’s will.
I thank believers and clerics who have heard the President’s appeal to them and adopted a dual approach to faith; they are firm in the faith but also diligent in their communities. These are setting a great example to the rest. They have developmental and income generating projects attached to their churches and mosques as well as at individual household level. I continue to call upon them to engage in and support Government’s Wealth Creation programmes like the famous Parish Development Model (PDM) and Emyooga. I pledge the necessary support from Government.
God gave us hands for a reason; to do, otherwise, he would just remove the hands wait to be spoon-fed. People cannot listen to the gospel on an empty stomach, i told congregants last week at the launch of the Mid-Western Cathedral for the Lutheran Church in Masindi last week. Uganda is a fertile land with magnificent weather, God’s gift to us. He has given us peace and linked us up with friends in the international community with whom we can exchange goods, ideas and services. All this works for our own good as His people.
The author is the Minister for the Presidency
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