“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the LORD” – Jeremiah 23:1 (NIV)
Saint Janan Luwum whose public holiday is celebrated today in Uganda speaks very much to present times. Born in a polygamous family Luwum initially trained as a teacher. After accepting Christ as a personal savior in 1949 he went to Buwalasi Theological College and was ordained as a priest in 1953. In 1969 he was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Uganda at Gulu. In 1974 he was appointed Archbishop of the Metropolitan Province of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Boga (in Zaire), becoming the second African to hold this position
Luwum took on the leadership of the church at a time where extra judicial killings were at their peak. Abductions of those suspected of opposing the Idi Amin regime were every day and people lived much in fear. In 1973 there was a public execution of 15 Ugandans suspected of fighting the Amin regime.
Archbishop Luwum could have chosen to be silent and simply carry on his pastoral duties, perhaps with a certain detachment. Rather than take that more convenient approach, he decided to stand out and take up a prophetic role of warning the Amin regime that it would pay dearly for its abuse of power. For that he was arrested in 1977 and executed with three other ministers. Need I remind us here that two years later Amin was gone.
Power is given by God. So often we find those who abuse it for their selfish end.The church has not just a primary role to guide believers but also a prophetic duty to warn those that abuse power has consequences. For “Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them” (Ezekiel 34:10).
Prayer for today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, today as as we celebrate the life of a servant of yours, Janan Luwum, who paid the ultimate price for standing up to evil, we pray that those with power may use it to honour you and not drive your people into desperateness!