Your Excellency, President Yoweri Museveni, Honorable First Lady, Janet Kataaha Museveni, Honorable MP and Speaker, Mr. Jacob Oulanyah, distinguished leaders, diplomats, guests, ladies and gentlemen:
Our international team of Kingdom Education Hub is honoured to pray with you for Uganda on the eve of the 59th anniversary of the “Jewel of Africa” becoming a sovereign nation. It is a privilege to participate in the great dream of making Uganda the light of Africa.
Why Don’t The Swiss Women Haul Water On Their Heads?
Just before the 2012 London Olympics, I was invited to teach a course on Community development to a group of international students. I put up two pictures on the screen: Indian women hauling water in clay jars and Ugandan women hauling it in yellow plastic containers.
Then I asked the class
Why don’t British women haul water on their heads?
A bright African student, sitting in front of the class, responded instantly, “. . . because the English women are lazy.”
“That’s a plausible explanation,” I responded. An alternative answer to consider is that some cultures began to use their minds to do what we do with our muscles.
If a few dozen people use their minds, every home could have more water than a million women can haul on their heads.
Technology is the magic of the mind.
When you use mind-power, water brings itself to you. Water generates electricity and electricity pumps water into your home, fields and factories.
Should a preacher use our text, Colossians 3: 23, to say to women-folk, when you haul water on your head, “work at it with all your heart . . . ”
That would turn religion into an opium of the slaves. God’s Word is given to liberate slaves. (John 8: 31-32)
Technology liberated European women, children and slaves because Scriptures helped medieval monks and priests see that the Bible made an important distinction between WORK and TOIL.
God is a worker — not a meditator. He worked for six days and made men and women in His image — to WORK.
Therefore, to work diligently is to be godly — Godlike.
God-like work requires imagination and thought. It involves intelligent design, advance planning, patience, focus and creativity.
TOIL, in contrast, came as a curse upon human sin. Adam brought this curse upon himself and his descendants. By rebelling against God’s authority, he lost his own authority over nature. God said to Adam, (Genesis 3: 17-19)
“…Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
The Good News is that sin’s curse was nailed upon Calvary’s cross. The Savior shed His blood to purchase slaves to make them sons: to restore to sinners the dignity of what they were created to be: children of the King of kings; governors of their Father’s creation.
God did not send Moses to encourage Hebrew slaves to be devoted to mindless tasks imposed upon them. God delivered the slaves so that each of them may enjoy working on his own vineyard and fig trees with no slave master making them afraid. The Bible’s vision of Shalom and Sabbath includes such freedom and property rights.
Francis Bacon, the Father of modern science, summarized this liberating theology of technology in Novum Organum Scientiarum (1620): “Man by the Fall fell at the same time from the state of innocence and from his dominion over creation. Both of these losses, however, can even in this life be in some part repaired; the former by religion and faith, the latter by arts and sciences.” Why does a woman haul water on her head, when water can bring itself into her home?
Because . . . she is a slave in her own home. She cannot say to her husband, “You are sitting and playing cards. You please go and get water today. I want to put my feet up and read “Good Cow-Keeping” magazine. If she said that, the chances are she might be beaten-up in public.
Hauling water on your head means that there is never enough clean water in the home to wash one’s hands, fruit, vegetables and dishes. So, the family keeps getting infected with stomach diseases. Much time and money is spent in fighting diseases that should not exist in the first place. Family members with upset tummies are not able to do their work “with all their hearts” as Col 3:23 commands.
But Toil is dehumanizing. It is mindless and repetitive work that requires little imagination, creativity and free choice.
Toil is dehumanizing because a human being should not have to do what can be done by non-human sources of energy — by gravity, electricity, chemistry, or solar power. Salvation includes re-humanization: that is, restoration of the dignity of being made in God’s image.
In the 60th year of Uganda’s independence, her leaders need to take decisive steps to make sure that every captive will be set free. No child of God will remain a slave in his/her own home, village, slum or city.
To build a great nation requires giving everyone an opportunity to develop and unleash their full potential.
SWITZERLAND WAS ONCE AS POOR AS UGANDA
The Swiss Alps are beautiful. But for centuries, they kept Switzerland poor — as poor as many African nations. That is because it took three weeks for a merchant to take a product from the South to the North. He had to go over the Alps or around them. High mountains discouraged production and commerce.
Therefore, for centuries, the only thing that the Swiss exported was mercenary soldiers. If a family had four boys but only one was needed to help on the family farm, the other three were sent to fight other people’s wars. That was the main source of earning their livelihood. If the Italians paid Swiss mercenaries, they killed the French; if the French paid more, the Swiss killed the Germans. Swiss boys did not fight for justice or self-defense. They killed and died only for money.
Who recruited them for warring kingdoms?
The Church did . . . And priests got a commission for sending Christian youth to kill (and die) for money. Often, the church sent priests to boost the boys’ morale to kill or to perform their last rites.
Switzerland’s reform began five hundred years ago, on January 1, 1519.
A young priest in Zurich, Ulrich Zwingli, began to preach that the Church is under God’s word, not above it. God commands us, “Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13).
“What? Are you saying the Church sins when she sends her youth to go and kill to earn a living?”
Yes, the Church in Switzerland needs a re-formation. It must repent, and re-conform to God’s word.
The command, “Thou shalt not kill” meant that every individual had a God-given, “inalienable” right to life. Neither the state, nor the Church should rob anyone of their right to life, just to make a little money.
It is one’s duty to love his neighbor as himself because everyone is made in God’s image. Your neighbor is your brother. And you are your brother’s keeper.
The Lord Jesus did not come to kill . . . but to sacrifice His life so that even God’s enemies may have abundant life. Our Lord calls us to take up our cross — to sacrifice ourselves like Him — to serve others.
“That sounds like good, pious, religious talk. But, in reality, what work can a young man do besides fighting for whoever pays him?”
Well, said Zwingli, if your family farm does not need your muscle-power, then come to the church to study: cultivate your mind and character. If you seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness, He will meet all your material needs.
Everyday, at lunch time, Zwingli and his associates started teaching the Bible in Zurich in two different churches. Out of that humble beginning grew Switzerland’s largest university. Three decades later the reformer John Calvin began his academy in Geneva. It grew to become Switzerland’s second largest university.
Swiss reformers inspired the Church to cultivate the mind because they believed that the human mind was made in God’s image. To become godly includes developing one’s mind. “Eternal life is to know Christ” (John 17:3) because “All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ.” (Colossians 2:3). To help us know Christ, God gives us His Spirit of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel and the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2).
Switzerland did not have an institution to train Engineers to drill tunnels, build roads and railway lines through the mighty Alps. Nor did it have the money. The Alps ensured that Switzerland remained a loose federation of independent Cantons, speaking four different languages. As a result, the federal government had no access to large finances needed to build the infrastructure of tunnels, bridges and trains.
Visionary leaders such as Alfred Esher, whose statue one sees outside the Zurich Railway Station, had to build private financial institutions from scratch in order to finance tunnels and the Swiss Northeastern Railway. These included Banks such as Credit Suisse and Credit Suisse Groupbanking. In my book, This Book Changed Everything: The Bible’s Amazing Impact On Our World, I have recounted other details of how Switzerland’s financial, manufacturing and transportation infrastructure was built to make industrialization possible.
Tunnels, roads, bridges and railways, however, do not explain why Switzerland became Europe’s most innovative nation. According to the European Patent Office, more Swiss citizens file patent applications per one million inhabitants than do any other European country. For the year 2016, the top nations were:
- Switzerland — 891.6 patents filed per million people
- Netherlands — 404.8
- Sweden — 359.8
- Denmark — 333.8
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization ( WIPO ), Uganda filed a total of 16 applications for Patents in 2016. That is about 0.35 per million people. Thus our challenge is: Can we develop Ugandan youth to beat Switzerland in the course of the next century?
Can Uganda Offer As Good an Education as Switzerland?
Yes, it can!
In 2014 I was serving as a Professor of Applied Theology. One day, one of my students asked me, if I would be interested in visiting a slum across the river from my house.
“Sure! I’d love to do that.”
The river was too wide and dirty. Therefore, the university did not allow us to swim across. We had to cycle around over a historic bridge. When we reached the slum, about 40 children were sitting on a narrow street. A 17-year old young man was teaching them. Mothers and sisters sat on both sides of the streets, washing dishes, preparing dinner and listening to the open-air class. Students — all from Hindu homes — were very pleased that a professor had come to their slum. So, they ended their class by standing up and singing a praise song to Jesus.
I was very impressed and invited the young teacher for dinner on Saturday. He came, spent the night with me and joined me for Sunday worship. His family lived about 100 kilometers away. His father thought that the village school was useless. So he sent his son to the city, hoping that the city schools would have better teachers.
The next weekend the young man came again. Then it became routine. After we became friends, he confided:
“Sir, I don’t think I will pass my Board (12th) exam?”
“I can’t understand the Math Teacher. Some of my classmates do. Because they take private tuitions from our Teacher’s sister-in-law. But in actuality the Math Teacher tutors them himself. The Law prohibits him from taking private tuitions, therefore, the coaching classes are run by his family.
I have another problem: I live with four boys from my caste. They are older and have dropped out of school. They work as laborers, and their TV is on 24-hours. I can’t concentrate on my studies and my Board exams are barely three months away.”
I invited the young man to move to my house. I gave him a desk top computer and enrolled him in a free online math program, www.KhanAcademy.com
The program was in English. He could read it, but did not understand what he read. So I taught him how to google-translate the problems and clues. Also how to use dictionary.com
Our dining table became his English class. He used bilingual (Hindi-English) Bible as his text book for learning English. English lessons routinely led to discussions of General knowledge, current affairs, literature, history, philosophy, theology, religion, ethics and science. Within days he was completely hooked on KhanAcademy.com . . . even though he did not realize that he — a boy I found in a slum — had become a virtual “class-mate” of Bill Gates’ daughter!
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was funding Khan Academy, because their own daughter had also found its math instructions to be mind-opening.
Technology makes it possible for the poorest child to study from the world’s best teachers.
When the results came out four months later, my friend had passed his 12th grade in First Division. He did not need an expensive tutor. The “Math Teacher” in his school was well qualified and well-paid. And a much better math teacher was available online for free. What my young friend needed was a shepherd — An Academic Pastor who would be interested in his mind as well as in his soul and character. He needed a shepherd who would help him manage his time, priorities, relationships and conflicts; help him lean not on his own understanding but to seek God, His wisdom, calling, purity, power and humility.
For a teenager, it is tempting to yield to peer pressure, to conform to the world. If he is to transform the world, he needs support to seek the light of God’s truth.
During his summer vacation, I requested the university to give my friend a bicycle that no one was using. That made it possible for him to start serving in another slum.
A kind widow allowed him to use her front yard to teach her kids and neighbors. About 20 students, from ages 4-14 began attending his classes. How was he to educate such a diverse group in a two-hour period?
A young Indian professional, working in Dallas, TX, happened to be visiting India. He too was impressed by my young friend and gave him a dozen or so inexpensive Tablets. All the curriculum from Kindergarten to Class 12 was uploaded on each of the Tablets. Students sat in small groups of 2-4, according to their age and level of study. The volunteer-teacher moved from group to group supervising them all.
Wow! Suddenly, those slum kids had entered the digital age.
A Jar of Fish-Pickle Became a Game-Changer
The kind widow who hosted his “school”, spent the whole day collecting empty plastic bottles on the road. One day a south Indian friend of mine sent us a big jar of fish-pickle. My friend had never heard of it because we don’t make that in north India. It was so tasty that my friend went ecstatic. The slum was on the river bank and the fish market was just above the slum. He connected the dots . . . he could enjoy fish pickle every day and also sell some, if he could get the host-widow to make it.
The widow lived in a mud-hut without a kitchen. So, she had to come to the home of one of the university staff to learn pickle-making. Then she could use my kitchen for practice and production. My friend encouraged her to bring along some neighbors. Professional packaging and marketing would be easier if enough families were making a product. I gave him a tiny loan to be repaid from sales.
Can An Illiterate, Landless Widow Buy A Laptop for Her Kids?
A landless, illiterate widow in a remote valley in Uganda, feeds her kids by doing odd jobs in other peoples’ homes and farms. Can she educate her children to compete in a global, information age?
Yes, she can!
Small Ugandan groundnuts are my favorite snack. I could eat them everyday!
What if that poor woman roasted and fried groundnuts: salted and unsalted; spicy and non-spicy? She would not need a big investment. It will be enough if her pastors created a professionally managed Agricultural Cooperative to buy her produce with proper quality control, packaged and marketed them globally.
If she was paid once a week, she would be able to buy a laptop from her Cooperative on a weekly installment. The educational wing of the Cooperative would supply the world’s best online K-12 curriculum for free. The tuition cost would be zero. The Church would need to provide an Academic Pastor who oversees the student, while the mother roasts the groundnuts. If a family can do more than roast groundnuts, like buy a cow or few goats, the Cooperative would provide the opportunity, the credit, the training and the marketing ability. Many parts of Uganda have so much water and an ideal climate that Uganda could easily beat Switzerland as the world’s #1 producer of cheese and other dairy products. What Uganda needs is NOT resources. It needs SHEPHERDS who love their sheep and will help feed their sheep in such a way that they bring the best out of the incredible natural resources that God has already given Uganda.
If the students’ families re-paid weekly installments faithfully, the Church would have adequate money to support the Academic Pastor; when the time comes, the Mother would have built up credit to send her child to NASA to study Rocket Science. Uganda could build up grassroots level economic power that could develop everyone’s potential.
Government programs and Western aid have come together to weaken many of our nations by creating a culture of dependence and corruption. They have not allowed the people to take responsibility for their own affairs.
Very few pundits have taught us that Foreign Aid did not emancipate Europe. It was self-reliance that built up Western character and capital. A very good example is:
Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen (1818 – 1888), the Father of Credit and Cooperative Unions that became the economic backbone of the nations that are now able to donate to others.
He was the seventh of nine children who had to leave school at the age of 14. He continued studying for three more years under a local pastor. That mentorship developed his leadership abilities. First he joined the military, but had to resign because of an eye disease. Then he went into public service, serving as a mayor in several towns.
His struggles with poor health and poverty set him on a course of developing self-help Cooperatives. A specific motivation was observing farmers’ suffering in the grip of loan sharks. He founded the first Cooperative lending bank in 1864 that made credit available to the poor.
The seeds of his institutional innovation began when he confronted the starvation winter of 1846/47. He responded by starting what can be called a “Pre-cooperative” an Association for Self-procurement of Bread and Fruits. He bought flour with the help of private donations. The bread was baked in a self-built bakery and distributed on credit to the poorest amongst the population. That initiative was followed up with The Bread Society in 1849 in Flammersfeld and the Benevolent Society created in 1854.
To secure the liquidity equalization between the small credit banks, in 1872 Raiffeisen created the first rural central bank at Neuwied, the “Rheinische Landwirtschaftliche Genossenschaftsbank” (Rhenish Agricultural Cooperative Bank). In 1881, he established a printing house in Neuwied that still exists today, carries his name and was merged in 1975 with the German cooperative publishing house “Deutscher Genossenschafts-Verlag.”
Raiffeisen saw the connection between dependency and poverty. Therefore, he taught that to fight poverty one must fight dependency first. Out of this came the three ‘S’ formula:
- Self-governance, and
Together they freed the poor from charity, politics, and loan sharks.
That simple vision was so powerful that one can find all kinds of Raiffeisen Credit and Cooperative Unions throughout Europe. Students of American economic history also know that institutionalization of a similar Cooperative spirit for mutual help brought the average American out of poverty.
It is unnecessary to give more illustrations of men and women who chose to become good shepherds to the sheep entrusted to them. I have discussed several of them in my books.
Can One Play Wholeheartedly for the Lord?
Working “with all your heart” does not mean that one cannot play with all his heart and become a successful athlete. Not many people remember that the modern Olympic movement came out of “Muscular Theology” that developed in universities such as Cambridge. These universities required young men, full of testosterone, to delay marriage so that they could devote themselves to studies. But what would the university do with their unused energy?
Christian universities applied the text that we have been given to utilize young people’s surplus energy to build not just bodies but also character that plays by rules, obeys leaders, disciplines body, manages time, values team-spirit above self-interest etc. YMCAs (Young Men Christian Associations) became the most important international movement that made it possible for youth from enemy nations to come and play together with civility and honor winners, even if they represented enemy nations.
This “sportsmen spirit” expressed the value that an athlete was playing for the Lord: not for himself nor even his country. That spirit went on to make the difference between a civilized professional army and a brutal militia. A civilized police force that maintains justice and order rather than abusing official authority for personal or communal gain determines whether a nation will become free and prosperous or remain a slave, exploited by its own officialdom and army-rule.
Africa’s enormous potential is hemorrhaged by un-civil militia and wicked men walking around in police uniforms. They assume that they do not need to “do everything for the Lord,” His justice, righteousness and kingdom. They believe that they have the power too wield their authority — not in defense of law — but in their own interest or their tribe or religious sect.
Realistically, it is tempting to think that this chronic disease cannot be cured without more wars. History is evidence that the remedy that deals with the root cause is education that introduces young people to God’s kingdom: Nations are healed when God’s kingdom rules over all; when His anointed ruler — the Christ — is the Lord of all of life. That is what it means to do all of our work for the Lord.
We can conclude this meditation by reflecting upon the theme and the Scripture text that the Parliamentary Committee has chosen for today:
Responsibility before God and Man: and whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for The Lord (Col. 3:23)
“Working for the Lord” means that one does not work for bribes. He does not work for self or tribal interests. The worker put’s God’s kingdom and righteousness above one’s religious/sectarian bigotry.
In the “Larger Catechism” German Reformer Martin Luther wrote that a person who does not do his work wholeheartedly steals. He breaks the 8th Commandment.
If a craftsman takes money to fix your leaky roof . . . he needs to take responsibility that it will not leak again when it rains. If the roof leaks, the craftsman is a thief, says Luther.
The Reformer went on to say that a pastor who does not buy and read books is also a thief. He is given the responsibility to feed Christ’s sheep . . . if he does not study, he does not even prepare the food that his sheep need. That shepherd is not nourishing the minds and the souls of the sheep entrusted to his care. He is a thief because he is not putting all his heart into the work that God has given him.
What would it mean for a shepherd to look after his sheep with all his heart?
It might mean that the pastor would grow his ekklesia, God’s household, into a multi-purpose Cooperative. Its educational wing would encourage students to enroll in accredited schools and universities but come to the Church to attend classes. Academic Pastors will make sure that Professors and Subject Matter Experts come to their church even if it is located in a remote mountain or valley. Normally, they will come online and the most marginalized student will study from the world’s best teachers. A shepherd devoted to his sheep will make sure that his lambs are developing their minds along with their bodies and souls.
A wise Pastor will plan for the future of his sheep. He would organize their families into economic Cooperatives so that the value of what a family already does is multiplied manifold.
The Pastor would teach God’s household, the Church, to save for the future in Credit Unions that they own. These will need to be managed professionally, but supervised by Elders blessed with the Spirit of Wisdom, Such Credit Unions will allow poorest families to give the best possible education to the families that seek God’s kingdom and righteousness.
What Would Luther Say to the Parliament?
In closing . . . with fear and trembling . . . may I speculate that, if Martin Luther was writing today, he might apply the Apostle Paul’s exhortation in Colossians 3:23 by adding that an honorable Member of Parliament is a thief, if he comes to the Parliament House to sign attendance and collect his daily allowance but does not participate in the Legislative Committees wholeheartedly. He does not do his work wholeheartedly, if he does not study the Bills and the Amendments on which the Parliament is planning to vote.
One does not have to be like God to become an MP. But an MP and a minister become Godly when they put all their heart into the work that they are doing for the Lord.