Uganda just celebrated their 50th anniversary of independence from the British Empire.
While there were the usual parades, speeches, decorations and promises, their Jubilee celebrations were marked by a very premeditated spiritual focus, with engagement from the First Family all the way down to the rank and file believers.
On Sunday afternoon there was a large gathering at the nation’s leading hotel hosted by His Excellency President Museveni and the First Lady. It culminated with the signing of an intense proclamation of repentance and covenanting the nation to God. It was nationally televised with a high level of engagement by Christians and pre-Christians alike.
I was privileged to be present and my defining memory of the evening was all the pushing and shoving at the front of the auditorium by people wanting to sign the 4′ by 6′ proclamation when it appeared as though they might be running out of room at the bottom for signatures. So many people were desperately wanting to be signatories of this historic document.
It was printed the next day in major newspapers for the nation to savor.
The second event was at the national stadium and was hosted by the Christian community. It ran from 10:00 a.m. on the eve of the anniversary to 6:00 a.m. the next morning. At midnight, as the first minutes of the second 50 year period of their history ticked by, His Excellency stood in front of the crowd, backed by the First Lady, and repented for the sins of previous presidents, governments and citizens, and then dedicated the nation to the Most High God as an official act by the head of state. This too was watched by the nation via television.
Here are links to the local newspapers for those who wish to read the details.
That is the snapshot: a people who are passionate about enthroning Jesus over the nation.
As dramatic as that is, the movie is even more compelling.
The first 24 years of Uganda’s history was marked by wild swings between unstable governments and totalitarian regimes that did great harm in the nation.
His Excellency fled from such an unjust government, went to the bush, and over a number of years led an effective insurgency to take over the nation.
While that was celebrated as a great victory, the reality is that he was now governing a nation that was in shambles. Destroying something is easier than building, but with immense energy and creativity, he set his shoulder to the wheel and in the next 26 years made huge progress.
Here are some statistics revealing the progress in building the nation.
The army was the primary enemy of the citizenry prior to his war. Now it is a highly professional army with superior training and a reputation for maintaining order, not causing chaos.
In 1986 the economy was so fractured that national tax receipts were a mere billion shillings. Today it is over one trillion. Inflation peaked at 216% per year and now is 6%.
In 1986 Uganda had 26, 328 phone lines. Today in a population of 3,200,000, 40% own mobile phones.
At the time of independence, Uganda had only one radio station, owned by the government. Today there are 200 radio stations and 10 TV stations.
At independence, there was only one woman doctor and no women judges or lawyers. Twenty-four years later, there were still only 2% women in Parliament. Under His Excellency, that figure has grown to 32% of Parliament, with a significant presence of women through other sectors of government and society.
While those figures are good for any nation, it is in the expression of their Teacher gift that Uganda has been extraordinary.
From one ravaged university in 1986, there are now 27. Uganda has such excellence in higher education that some of the heads of state of surrounding nations came to Uganda for their formal education in the recent past.
In 1989 a mere 60 medical doctors were graduated from one medical school. Today four universities graduate over 500 medical doctors a year. By 2011 the country had a total of 72 private hospitals and a couple thousand government run clinics. HIV/AIDS infections are down by 50% at last count.
My point is this: often we see spiritual passion coupled with an abysmal lack of social skill, and dedication to God does not, by itself, overrule bad choices in the gritty stuff of daily life.
In this case, the government of His Excellency has executed well on sundry fronts. While the nation is far from being a utopia and there is still immense job security for anyone with a yen to build a nation, the facts are, he has a plan, he is getting results and the nation has come farther in 26 years than most.
Against that backdrop of fierce intentionality in doing the daily work, the unequivocal repentance for the national sins and the unambiguous dedication of the nation to the Most High God certainly sets the stage for an acceleration of the good things already in place.
Keep an eye on this nation. No telling where the King might move with power and grace.
Copyright October 2012 by Arthur Burk
From The Hub, in Anaheim