Friday, November 30, 2012

What America Can Learn from Uganda

 I've experienced emotions of joy and relief, satisfaction and contentedness, sadness and a hint of grief since I landed back in the U.S. 11 days ago.

I honestly feel as if I left one world and entered a completely different one, and not just simply crossed an ocean and landed on another continent.

One of the first things that "hit" me as I landed in London was "piped" in Christmas and classical music. This made me smile.  : ) Music in Uganda, such as on the radios and such, almost always has an obvious beat and is often played quite loud.

On one of my flights over a portion of the U.S., I gazed out the plane window in amazement at the order and symmetry evident in the planned neighborhoods, roads and streets, cul-de-sacs, even rows of trees. Oftentimes in Uganda, things seem so "random" and scattered.

Then there is the fast Internet - wow! I love it! Everything is so, so convenient here. Almost everything and anything you need or want is right at your fingertips and available in multiple options - in any type, color, size and price range you could want.
As I reflect about the differences between the western and African worlds, one has become more and more painfully obvious – religious freedom and devotion. 

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda
 In observance of Uganda’s 50 years of independence, last month President Museveni issued a public statement, repenting of his personal sins and of his nation, and committing Uganda to be a nation that seeks after God. I felt goosebumps as I recently read his moving prayer.

"I stand here today to close the evil past and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness. 

We confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation." 

President Museveni then went on to specifically list and repent of nearly 30 sins. (To read the entire prayer, click here.)

Uganda is a young country and yes, has a number of faults and growing pains to navigate. But it appears to be putting it best foot forward on a righteous path – much like America in its infancy.

While many Ugandans admire the U.S. and see it almost as the “Promised Land,” I try to point out to them the fact that America has and is continuing to turn its back on God, but Uganda still has much religious freedom. Ugandan youth can  freely pray in school and prayer is included in much of public life. More than 80% of Ugandans claim to be Christian. 

No, Uganda is not perfect, by any means. But our God does not demand perfection, He seeks devoted seekers who desire to be blameless before Him.

"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him." (2 Chronicles 16:9)

While America has been blessed and has been a blessing to many for many years, it seems we have seriously lost sight of the Blesser and thus the blessed path. We have been consumed by so much, except for what is vitally important. 

I imagine the U.S. like the game of Jenga in which you stack wooden pieces in a criss-cross fashion and then begin removing them and adding them to the top of the tower. At some point, the tower becomes too weak to uphold the added weight on top, and it crashes, scattering the pieces.

As America continues to remove its foundational pieces, like a reliance on a gracious God and His sovereignty, we continue to add things on top like obsessions with technology and entertainment, reliance on debt and credit, a deliberate turning away from God and exclusion of Him from almost every part of life. One day the tower will become too top-heavy for the weak and crumbling foundation and it will fall.

While Uganda often idolizes the U.S., this is a time I wish America would want to emulate the stance taken by this young African country.

I hope and pray that the declaration made by Uganda's President Museveni is truly heartfelt and embraced by many in the government and other leaders of this young nation. I pray that Uganda and its citizens sincerely pursue after God and in turn are blessed and become a blessing to many.

Near the close of his prayer, President Museveni stated:

"We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfill what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own."

 May this become America's prayer as well.

Image sources: Sign - Microsoft Office; Jenga photo -; Pres. Museveni -

1 comment:

  1. I cheered the other day when I read about President Museveni's speech and prayer. It is truly incredible and encouraging in these times! I pray, too, that America's desire will soon echo his.