Monday, July 15, 2013
My Latest Gerenge Experience
By Bakampa Brian Baryaguma
On Friday, 5 July, 2013, the Law Development Centre (LDC) Christian Fellowship organized a weekend-long prayer retreat to Gerenge, Entebbe. Having cleared all my dues, with one of my spiritual mentors, cum ad hoc Caesar, Mama Atoo Faith (the other is Papa Nkonge Timothy), I, yours truly, was among those who went for this gathering of believers of Christ. Now I bring you some of the retreat’s light and captivating moments. Suffice to say that the retreat was powerful and insightful.
We converged opposite LDC Legal Aid Clinic, where my wonderful sister, self-styled flight captain, Ninsiima Agatha, ushered us in the LDC minibus. “Hello, everyone. This is Captain Ninsiima. Welcome on board. Please, take your seats, fasten your seatbelts. We are ready to take off,” she repeatedly said, in a quite impressive and amazing manner and intonation. Soon the bus was full. At about 10:15 pm, we hit the road to Gerenge, where we reached at about 11:45 pm. We had supper at about 12:15 am and assembled in the prayer hall to listen to the word of God.
The first sermon was somewhat a disappointment. Pastor Michael preached rather disjointedly, on what he termed, “something new and never preached about before.” The result was a complicated study, incomprehensible to an overwhelming majority of listeners. This was so evident that the preacher himself felt “sorry to those who can’t understand.” At one time, Ssevume Joseph was bold and wise enough to do the rarely done – ask for clarification. Much as many of my friends like Kiconco Victoria, the often shifty Omara Fabian and Masiga Collin, agreed that more clarity was left desired, they nevertheless, believed that with proper focus, we would be able to understand, with time, what the man of God said. While I castigated the preacher’s clumsy American accent and preaching style, they vehemently supported and defended him. To me, preachers have a duty to ensure that their message is well understood by its intended recipients, but they denied its existence. I put it to them that any abdication of reason and critical analysis, risks promoting or following of religious cults.
The second preacher, Pastor Paineto a.k.a. Pai (I stand to be corrected on the spelling), was an amazing preacher. He taught very well on the topic of living life by the power of our testimony. He said that our lives should be guided by the successes of the past. Pastor Pai greatly inspired me. I was motivated to proceed vigorously with my missions in life, irrespective of what my critics say about my work methods. My personal experience shows that my methods are effective and deliver desired results. Winston Churchill was right. He said that, “You will never get to your destination if you stop to stone every dog that barks at you.” For me, the successes of my past constitute my testimony. They are the reasons why I ever move forward. My results are readily available for all concerned to see. Pastor Pai also had some advice for our sisters. He asked them to guard against finishing LDC and later getting in a relationship for six years. In short, he said that girls should date and marry those nearest to them i.e. their classmates, except me, for I am married to myself. This reminds me of my campus lecturer who told our girls then that, “You will regret for not marrying your classmates.”
The third preacher, Makerere University’s Kirunda Robert, was as entertaining and charismatic as ever before. He was full of energy and vigour; just the right person to warm up the chilly coldness of Sunday night. He even showed us his newly wed wife. She looked beautiful. I think the two make a nice couple. May God bless their marriage abundantly.
All in all, I thank God for all our preachers. They did a marvellous job. May God bless them more.
Memorable Times of the Retreat
Alongside moments of serious prayer, were light ones too. At the end of the day, a combination of the times of prayer and the light moments of fun and jokes, culminated in what I earlier called a powerful and insightful retreat, complete with abundant grace and glory. The following deserve attention:-
I was first in line. When I realized that I couldn’t understand what Pastor Michael was preaching, I left the prayer hall and went to bed at around 2:30 am. I slept for eight and a half hours, until 11:00 am, just in time for breakfast. Counsel shall be strategic. My colleagues reported me to Papa Timothy, saying that I needed a grader to wake me up. Truth be told, I really needed this rest. As a matter of fact, my cardinal reasons for going to Gerenge were to nourish my spiritual life by worshiping and renewing my faith in God; then resting and pondering at the shores of Lake Victoria, for my psychological, physical, and emotional pleasure. These objectives were achieved during the retreat.
During praise and worship, some people proved that they were the unbwongable giants of dance and drama. The likes of Kambaho Brian, Matsiko Godwin Muhwezi, Naigaga Sandra, Mama Atoo Faith, Captain Ninsiima and Olupot Pascal, found a niche for themselves. If you thought that people like Michael Jackson, Bob Marley or Lucky Dube can dance, clearly you haven’t seen these buddies of ours. Kambaho even rolled up his sleeves and trousers; Pascal pulled the famous jaba style, while Godwin shook his waist like there was no tomorrow. The celebrated MJs were dwarfed. These guys are BAD! In fact, WRONG! Only the silent burner, Mutatina Pecos, refused to participate in the worship frenzy, no matter how many injunctions were issued against him and his self-imposed curfew.
During Saturday morning’s prayer and preaching session we were taught that the love of God is so immeasurable that if we are to look back in the past, we ourselves would be surprised and shocked how far we have come. It emerged that Kabahenda Allen was, in her own words, once a DJ, a Mixer. “For sure, Jesus Christ came for the wrong characters amongst us,” remarked Omara Fabian.
Last but not least, Papa Timothy and Twongyeirwe Frank must be credited for skilfully and tactfully smoking out those who attempted to dodge prayers, by hiding in their beds. Special mention must be made of Omara Fabian who tried to coil his long body in the short Gerenge beds, in a bid to escape detection. It was funny. If you think I am lying, for avoidance of doubt, ask Absolom Frederick Kato.
Verse of the retreat
Members voted John 13:10, as the verse of the retreat. It states that, ‘Jesus said, “Anyone who has had a bath is completely clean and does not have to wash himself, except for his feet.” To fully understand this verse, it must be put in its proper context. Here, Jesus was washing his disciples’ feet, as an example for them to go out in the world and serve other people diligently and with humility. Simon Peter resisted Jesus’ attempt. Jesus threatened to disown him as His apostle if he (Peter) insisted on objecting to his feet being washed. Instead, the obstinate Peter, suggested that He (Jesus) should wash his (Peter’s) hands and head too. That’s when Jesus made the above statement in John 13:10. He explained that those who have had a bath don’t need to wash their bodies, but simply dust or wash their feet. This verse is highly relevant to male worshippers in Gerenge because due to the coldness, many of them shun bathing. Now, during this retreat, we passed a resolution upholding this verse as being the supreme law and banned any one from violating it. We set up a Gerenge Court Martial (GCM) court, having unlimited original jurisdiction to entertain all matters arising, with power to try and punish anyone who violates our law. Upon conviction, the court has power to sentence the convict to a lifetime of prayer and repentance only. The members of the court are namely, Bakampa Brian Baryaguma–Chairman; Mukiibi Lawrence and Omara Fabian–Senior Officers; Amerit Timothy and Businge Leornard–Junior Officers; Kukundakwe Arthurton–Political Commissar; and Muwonge George–Non-commissioned Officer. Otim Isaac will be the Judge Advocate; Olupot Pascal, the Prosecutor; Ssevume Joseph, a.k.a. Showering Master, the Defence Counsel.
The Lord’s message
Finally, in John 3:16, it is stated that, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” As if this is not enough, to all the politically oppressed and marginalised peoples of the world, particularly those in Africa, there is more good news for you. The Lord says that in consideration of His love for you, He shall send a messenger through whom “Salvation shall come from the hills. A man must rise and save the people in their hour of need. He shall show them the way; he shall lead them.” This message was long repeatedly stated by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, in The River Between. The time has come for it to be activated because this “... new awareness wants expression at a political level. Education for an oppressed people is not all.”