1 2 3 ACTION

Back in the day, on my first day of learning how to drive, my instructor taught me the use of the parts of the car; from the gears to the lights to the brakes and more. I was excited. However, day one ended without me driving.  I had learnt a lot about driving. I was ready for the next day, for the driving part though.

When I attempted to learn how to play the piano, my music teacher Deno, showed me the major and minor scales, the chords, which button responded to which key, how my hands should bend and the other nitty gritty of playing the piano.

Friends, you didn’t want to be around when I made the first practical attempt. I almost rammed the car, which by the way, we had stolen from our pastor for the sole purpose of ‘education’. Pastors are good people; we were spared. The sound the piano made when I attempted to play would make a deaf person throw their hands off in protest!

It is this relationship between theory and action that was the focus of the last speaker at the Fearless Summit. It was not Bishop Masika’s first time at the Summit. Last year, he had given the participants homework, to act! His message this year was simple; it was still a call to action. Enough had been said. So much wisdom was shared and now it was time for participants to get the extra push.

“You need to stop attending these conferences”, he said, “and start implementing what you have learned.” How true!

The good Bishop’s fear was very legitimate. There is nothing wrong with acquiring knowledge and increasing one’s understanding. In fact, the creator of the heavens says that His people perish because of lack of knowledge! Knowledge is good. Proverbs actually encourages us to gain knowledge and not to sell it. Yours truly recommends that you actually attend the transform leaders gathering happening on the 6th and 7th at Worship harvest Naalya.

But do you know what is better? Yes, you are right; actioning that knowledge. In the words of James, “faith without actions is dead”. I will add emphasis on that (it’s my blog, I get to do this), knowledge without action doesn’t yield anything.

My family and I used to stay in rented spaces. We didn’t have the pleasure of arguing about open or closed plan kitchens. There was no kitchen in the house. The verandah was the kitchen and charcoal stoves were the sophisticated gargets used in meal preparation.

My mum would warn me about the red-hot charcoal in the stoves. She told me that it would burn me if I ever touched it. I believed her but curiosity had the best of me.  So, one day, I made an attempt at confirming her allegations when she had taken a walk. I still have a scar that testifies to that story.

After that incident, you wouldn’t find me anywhere near the charcoal stove. My knowledge of fire had been improved. I am not advocating for parents to let their children burn so as to obtain knowledge and understanding, I am just illustrating the difference between theory and action.

Imagine how much better the world would be if we moved from knowledge gatherers to people who acted on what they know? Imagine if we decided to implement one action per day of the many things we decided to do. The truth is that we are not short of knowledge to change the world. No. We have all the knowledge. It is on the inside of us. What we lack is putting that knowledge to action.  

Decide today to become an action person. Giving is good, start doing it. Your knowledge is only beneficial to you if not shared with others or actioned upon. Make the world a better place. Action your knowledge.

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ARE YOU THE ONE?

Hello you,

Yes, you!

You who is looking on the side,

Looking on the side like there is someone else reading this.

It is just the two of us; and I must ask,

Are you the one?

This is not the time to look astounded.

No, I am not talking to the wrong person.

This ain’t no wrong number sweetheart!

It’s you that I should be talking to and talking I shall do,

Are you the one?

Back in the day you saw the light.

You became a new creature. 

You cried as you repented, you cried!

Are you the one?

You promised that we will see a new you,

A person who is in public as they are in private.

You were so full of unconventional ideas. 

Only those with unconventional ideas change the world!

Are you the one?

Remember how you were impressed only by principle.

Remember you stood for a cause;

You always knew what better looks like.

You asked us to be brave as cowards have little faith.

Remember you told us to have faith in this journey,

Are you the one?

You told us to be like trees.

Because they shed their leaves every season;

But their roots remain unmoved.

You taught us to have deep roots;

For they determine how far we can go in life.

You repeated that trees shed their leaves in season, 

Are you the one?

Are you the one that told us to always have strong values; stand by them?

Are you the one that encouraged us to live and do our missions here on earth?

Are you the one that inspired us to live a life of our calling?

Are you living by all you told us? Are you the one?

If you are not the one, then I have only one question for you,

When will you be the one?

ROOM ENOUGH

I have a sister who was so bad at losing. (I really hope she is not reading this). You didn’t want to play a game with her if you had the slightest hope that you would at a particular time be in the lead. She would crash that game. She would end the game whenever there was a slightest chance of her losing.   

She managed arguments in the same way. If she saw a cow and mistakenly called it a dog, for heaven’s sake one had to agree that it was a dog. Any attempt to correct her would lead to a long argument with no end. You would actually be convinced that it’s actually a bigger dog.

I believe that my sister is not the only competitive one. We are imparted from a young age to be the best. From a young age, best was defined, for us, as being better than others. When we received our termly report cards, we spoke of how we were the 1st or 2nd in class but did not bother about the marks, quality of work or how much we had actually learnt.  

Our parents would not analyze our report cards to see if we declined in a particular subject compared to last term. No. They would only check if we were in a better position than the last term. Moving from 30th to 14th in class may get you more applause than improving your mathematics score from 40% to 65% in the same or lower position.

Furthermore, we don’t believe that we share success with others. We are always trying to see if we are better than the other in another aspect. Maybe we all stay in the same estate but I drive a bigger car to yours. Probably we share the same public transport but I have better lipstick than yours. We are not content with being a champion with others. 

It is this thinking that Dr Greg Lyons sought to challenge when he spoke at the Fearless Summit. He categorically made it clear that there is always room for one more champion. Never let another person’s success stop you. Think about that and let it sink in.

There is nothing wrong with sharing a podium with someone else. No. We need to change our mindset and work on bringing others to the top with us instead of trying to push everyone else down as we go up. This thinking of being the only one that qualifies is wrong and not worthy it.

There is enough room at the top for more than one. Don’t be afraid of the success of others. In fact, support them on their way to the top. Carry along others as you become a champion. Stop putting roadblocks in other people’s ways as you try to slow them down on your way up. Remove roadblocks and support others. You are made for greatness, and so are others.

It’s not a competition. We should not strive to be better than others, we should strive to be better than we were yesterday and help one another become better. Together, we all win.

HOW CAN WE BE THIS COMFORTABLE?

Matia Kasaija, the Minister for Finance and Economic Development read the budget for the financial year 2019/20 on the 13th day of June 2019.  The financial year’s expenditure will be 40 trillion Uganda Shillings. This reveals an increase of about 8 Trillion from last year’s expected expenditure.

As has been the trend in the past years, the Ministry of works has taken the biggest share of the resource envelope, that is to say, 16% of the total, equivalent to 6.4 trillion.

Justifiably, we love the good roads. I recently used the Entebbe express high way. A very fine road, free of traffic. Projects like the Eastern by-pass and the Jinja express high way all point to the fact that we need more of such roads. We all hate traffic. It’s in all our interests that better, bigger roads are built to decongest the city so it’s a good thing when Works gets allocated the Lion share right? Right.

My concern is however similar to the concern voiced by Ezekiel Mutua, the CEO – Kenya Film Classification Board.  “We have done well as a country in Infrastructure,” he said “but poorly in our moral structure.” It doesn’t matter whether its Kenya or Uganda. This statement is still true.

We have become busy building the roads that we have forgotten to check the moral fibre. A story ran in the dailies the other day that money meant for a planned hospital project had got lost. It couldn’t be traced. Even before a brick was laid for the said controversial hospital, the funds had been swindled. What do we do? Mungu anajua tu. Loosely translated to God knows. That’s what we say to ourselves and go raise the praise for our God.

You have nude pictures and videos of celebrities making rounds in different social media circles and all we do is request that they send to us too. Then after we “view”, we judge the characters in those videos. How can they do this? We discuss in our circles about the videos and whether they are fake or not. How did we get this comfortable with the wrong things?

When Jesus found people selling things in his father’s house, He went kukus. He turned into a Rambo of some sort and single handedly drove out all the vendors. I am pretty sure He neither did it with a smiling face nor kind words.

In doing so, He showed us that his main concern wasn’t about church size or pleasing everyone. He knew for a fact that doing the right thing would cause some to dislike him. But He didn’t care. He knew this was supposed to be a house of prayer. He knew right from wrong and was bent on ensuring that the right thing was done irrespective of who got offended. He exemplified to us that loving our enemies and blessing those that persecute us doesn’t mean that we should be timid.

Yet, what do we do? We let things be and sometimes conform to those very situations. Corruption has become the new norm and we are cheering it. We moved away from the stage of fighting it to getting by it, to being comfortable with it and now we participate in it and cheer it as it is done. We bribe to get our children into prestigious schools and bribe the police officers to let us go. It’s a new norm, even to us who are supposed to know better.  I mean you, the salt of the earth.

We are even encouraging the children to be like the corrupt. We want them to be like that rich man they see irrespective of what that man does to gain wealth. We even pay money so our kids can get access to leaked exams and excel.

We are comfortable gossiping about our friends even in the presence of the innocent children. Loyalty has become a price too hard for us to pay. We abuse and use all kinds of language irrespective of where we are or we are with. Our courts have become a laughing stock where justice is rarely served to the poor.

How can we be this comfortable? How will we raise a generation that can stand for the rights of all? What is going to happen to the world now that the salt is losing its saltiness? How did we become a people others run to seeking for updates on the latest rumors? How did we get this comfortable with sin?

Let us change course. Let’s do it very fast. We need to re- build the moral fiber of this country. This starts with us doing the right thing at any time with everybody irrespective of whether someone is watching or not. Irrespective of whether there is a reward, negative or positive, at the end of the day.  

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

I was in Kenya recently and I recalled the story of Wanja and Hinga. Okay, it wasn’t like I as soon as I arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport I remembered that story. I was listening to David Kuria during the Fearless Summit when it all came back to me.  

David Kuria was addressing the leaders in the room majority of whom were from the church section. He challenged us on the media and arts section and boy oh boy, he was right. To borrow from his notes, the top 20 churches in Kenya have fewer social media followers than celebrities like Churchill (comedian) and Akothee (musician). The church can afford to put out a statement and one celebrity says something contrary and reaches more people! Sad yet true. David Kuria reminded us to let our lights shine in a world where darkness is glorified.

This is what prompted me to remember Wanja. At a time when news was negative and possibly boring, Wanja and Hinga’s story is a breath of fresh air. For those that don’t know about the story or have forgotten about it. Here you go;

Wanja found her childhood friend Hinga on the street, homeless, a drug addict and a chokoraa (street Urchin). To the rest of the world, Hinga was someone to avoid. Society doesn’t expect one to socialize with the mad unless one is mad too. When Wanja looked at Hinga, she saw her childhood friend. She saw a guy who had potential and quickly began working with him with an aim to restore him. Long story short, Hinga was rehabilitated. Wanja didn’t stop at that, she got him a shop to start business. Unfortunately, Hinga passed away a few months ago. But he passed away not as a mad man. He passed away with all his dignity.

Jesus asked, “who lights a lamp and cover it with a bucket?” It may seem ridicous but this is what is happening in reality.

We have people trying to be like everyone else. We are interested in speaking about the cool things and not the right things. So much light has turned into darkness by our need to belong.

The world is not short of good stories. No. It’s just that those that know them choose to keep quiet. Those that are doing the wrong things are busy publicizing them. There will be a corruption story in the dailies every day. You can’t miss divorce news. You will hear about the man who slain his entire family. Movies with homosexual content are winning awards. We can’t even ‘afford’ to buy Christian movies. Nudity is painted on our TV sets. Our children want to dress like the ‘icons’ they see in the music videos and we are left wondering about what went wrong.  The negative makes news so it gets all the airtime. What do we do? We watch or look the other way.

We need to change the narrative. We need to start telling good stories. There is a man who has been faithful to his wife for the last 30years. Let’s get people talking about that. Let our lights shine so bright that it blinds the darkness. Let us stop fearing to let the light out.

Like David Kuria suggests, the church must tell its story. It’s either that or the world will keep on telling its story about the church. I know you are wondering about where to start. Simple, start being a good news ambassador. If you read a good story, share it. If you can’t find any, create it. Give. Make society better. Buy conductors soda in traffic. Share the good stories with everyone. Start writing the good movies. Work on clean content articles. Follow Jesus’ example.

Follow and like church pages. Share and retweet the stories they share. Change what you post on your timelines. Stop sharing the negative information. Focus on telling the good news. And if you can, and yes you can, write good stories to drain the negative.

In conclusion, David Kuria noted something profound; “if we are not speaking to today’s generation as a church in today’s language, we are the only ones who aren’t.” Let your light shine, even on the internet. Let it shine so bright that darkness has no room to hide around you.

LET’S BE INTENTIONAL

I have used the words of former American President John F. Kennedy countless times in my writings and mostly, during conversations. During the inaugural address on 20 January 1961, John F. Kennedy towards the end of his speech said,

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

That speech made America love him even though he had won with the smallest popular vote margins in history.  Some people have been inspired by that statement to do unimaginable things for their country, family, friends among others. The majority have however gone on like these words where never spoken or were never meant to be actioned. Well, not Dieudonne Nahimana who was a guest speaker at the Fearless summit. It’s difficult for me to pronounce that name so I will refer to Dieudonne as Dieu going forward.

Dieu is a Burundian citizen who suffered greatly during the Burundi civil war of 1993. He lost his entire family and more so, the betrayer was a church leader in their church. He hated God until he realized that God is good. Okay, am just dashing through his story here because I have a point am trying to put across. You can listen to his story via this link; https://m.mixcloud.com/BeFearless/dieudonne-can-a-former-street-child-significantly-impact-his-nations-future/ .  You welcome.

So, during his move back to God, Dieu started helping children who lived on the streets.  He fed them and took care of them. He started by collecting left over food from hotels and taking to these street children, and soon grew to hundreds of them. He is still caring for them. As he shared his story, a fire burnt in the inside of me.

Dieu with the help of others has managed to send many of the former street children to gain an education. Today, these former street children are in influential places across the Government of Burundi with some in the cabinet. His influence is felt across Burundi that when some people fail to get visas into the Country, they simply call him and boom, visas are issued! I don’t have his number in case you want to get a visa.

When he was pressed about what led him to do all this, Dieu made a statement that startled me. He said, “if you are not making decisions, you are victims of the decisions being made”.

Most times, we hold on as we wait for politicians to make decisions about our Country’s future. Then we get really mad when they make what we think are the wrong decisions. Then we rely on our spiritual leaders to guide us into moral decisions that affect our outlook on life. All this time, we are not making decisions. We are just delegating the power to make decisions to someone else, with the hope that they will make the best decisions regarding our future.

Dieu’s story shows us that we need to be intentional. Intentionality so important that it is John Maxwell’s first law in the 15 invaluable laws of growth. Maxwell goes on to tell us that growth doesn’t just happen and that hope isn’t really a strategy. Many a times, we hope for a better tomorrow. We focus on a few goals hoping they will get us growth but, in the end, we don’t grow.

Every person needs to commit to memory the words of Bruce Springsteen, “a time comes when you need to stop waiting for the man you want to become and start being the man you want to be.”

Don’t wait to become rich to help the poor. Dieu began by sharing just his lunch with a homeless person. He didn’t have that much. In fact, he didn’t have lunch guaranteed the next day but there he was. Whatever it is that you want to see changed, start working on it now.

Feed one homeless person. Visit the sick. Lead your neighborhood in cleaning the trenches. Start picking up the polythene bags. Adopt a child. Be intentional about change. Focus on turning the negative into positive. Let us stop being victims of the decision’s others make and let us start making decisions. Decisions that mean that our neighborhoods will be clean. Decisions that mean that other people’s neighborhoods will be clean. Decisions that mean and translate us into visiting the orphanages and helping the orphans. Decisions involving us helping those that cannot afford the medical bills. Decisions that translate into us meeting the poor in the body.  

If we aren’t making decisions, we will always stay victims of the decision’s others make.

MAY YOU PLEASE STAND UP

One of my favorite movies is called Home. The lead character in this colorful, heartwarming and sweet animation thinks he is called Oh, a name that he has been given to him by fellow Boovs. Every time he spoke, the Boovs around him would sigh with a depressed ‘ooh’. You should watch the movie. It is good for the entire family.

So back to Oh. Spoiler alert! He is a coward who is always causing trouble to his Boov community. He is loathed and seen as the lowest Boov. When it comes to making mistakes, he makes one too many. Later on, his fellow Boovs turn to him for leadership. He does help out in a way that they (even Oh) hadn’t envisioned and saves them from destruction.

What happened to Oh is something Zerubbabel Mengistu (Pastor Z hereon) described at the Fearless Summit. “Bravery is hidden in identity. Focus on who you are and it will come Naturally. When you know who you are, you don’t have to prove who you are.” Pastor Z said.

There is something about understanding who you are and the potential on the inside of you. There is something about peeling off the masks of inferiority complex and counterfeit that we adorn ourselves with daily. We hear voices, voices from the inside, that make us feel like we don’t measure up. Ooh the things we tell ourselves!

We compare ourselves to others and judge our abilities in comparison to the thing’s others have done. Back in the day, I remember my dad getting angry at me for having slipped from the sixth position to the twelfth position in class. He did not realize that I had improved in some of the subjects. All he wanted was for me to be the first. Girls see slim women on T.V and want to be like them.

 Let me put it in clear terms here; ladies and gentlemen, we have an identity crisis! Social media, culture, relationships, and other technology experiences have all transformed the image that we have of ourselves.

We miss out on opportunities because we are trying to be like another. Some of us have taken on identities of others that we are uncertain and confused about who we really are.

The apostle Paul saw this back in the day. While writing to the Ephesians, he knew that they had the same challenge of identity crisis. They had forgotten who they were in the new person.  In the whole of Chapter 3, Paul explains to the Ephesians who they were in Christ. The Galatians too were facing this crisis. Paul took off time in Chapter 3 to remind them of their identity. Peter too used his first Epistle in Chapter 2 verse 9 to remind the believers of who they really were. The Bible is full of many of these affirmations and reminders.  

Pastor Z urged us to focus on who we are. We can’t be brave until we know who we are. We can never achieve victory over the obstacles in our paths until we know who we are. Friends, with honesty, find out who you are and let you and the world experience who you are.

May you please stand up. May the you start living and silencing the doubts that are building up in you. Here’s to your self-discovery. Here is to being better and brave.