“Never again will I give your grain as food for your enemies…
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Isaiah 62:8, Luke 2:11)
Words of hope, words of life, give us strength, help us cope, in this world where’er we roam, ancient words will guide us home. As we celebrate the incarnation of the Word, the birth of Jesus Christ, my prayer is that you will be strengthened by the Ancient Words. Today we read from Isaiah 62, and God expresses determination to restore glory, splendor and welfare to a nation that was deserted, desolate and deprived. When Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, in his Christmas message, called for fervent prayer and fasting for our Nation Uganda, he warned that our society is drifting into a state of godlessness, lawlessness and perverse disregard of human life and dignity.
Perverse disregard of human life and dignity expresses itself through service delivery inadequacies, especially at government level. In his book ‘Uganda Today’, Zac Niringiye wonders ‘whether the extreme impact of failure of our social services is not causing extreme desperation’; leading to Dr Stella Nyanzi’s metaphorical use of unconventional and reckless sexually explicit language to characterize the tragic abuse of the dignity of the girl child in our school system, arising from the continuing plunder of public resources at the expense of the welfare of the people, especially the vulnerable. While exponentially improving access to primary education, the Universal Primary Education programme has become a death trap, with drop-out rates standing at a whopping 62% in 2006, 71% in 2012 and currently at an average of 75%.
Public healthcare institutions are poorly funded, under-staffed and well below minimum medical and other supplies. Maternal mortality ratio is still very high, more than double the MDG 2015 target; and with many more mothers surviving with lifelong debilitating illnesses and conditions. Considering the state of Uganda’s social services, and considering the taxes paid by the people, and donations made for the people, Isaiah’s statement evokes emotions: ‘your grain as food for your enemies … foreigners drink the new wine for which you have toiled’; those who plunder this nation are behaving like enemies and foreigners. But the Lord Almighty encourages His people and says, ‘Never again!’
Arise and pray for Uganda! There is hope for rebirth; a better education is the knowledge of God and of His Son Jesus Christ – the revelation that came to the Shepherds in Luke 2; the revelation that we all need; a better healthcare is in the manger, with the new born King. He has power to change the course of events here and in this age, and He holds promise for the ultimate rebirth in life eternal for those who put their trust in Him. The bright hope that the Ancient Word brings gives us strength for today and for eternity.