In our pain, God gives us power. Power to endure, power to overcome, power to rejoice in injustice, power to forgive, power to heal–the power which reversed the laws of nature, bringing Jesus Christ back from the dead. The two most powerful forces in the universe, our greatest weapons, are the name of Jesus and the Word of God.
I was reminded of this recently in the book A Distant Grief by F. Kefa Sempangi. In January, 1971, Idi Amin led a successful coup against the oppressive regime of President Obote and became Uganda’s “champion of liberty.” Great optimism throughout the country turned to doubt and confusion in June when rumors began to spread of massacres by Amin’s troops and of hundreds of bloated bodies floating in the Nile. The following year the Asian population of Uganda was expelled with no explanation and only 90 days’ notice.
In August, 1972, Mr. Sempangi, a Christian pastor in Kampala, with an elder of the church, responded to the invitation of a distinguished Ugandan, former member of the national parliament, to visit his home and share the good news of Jesus Christ with him, his wife and two sons.
“The Okelos lived in a large white stucco mansion on Nakasero Hill and we arrived…as the sun was just setting over the valley. A blossoming flame tree stood at their front gate and a wall of hibiscus shrubs enclosed the well-kept flower gardens of their enormous yard. The entire atmosphere was one of aristocratic affluence…
“The door was half open. We knocked and stepped inside. Beneath our feet was a beautiful light green carpet. A zebra skin hung in the hallway and through the door of the sitting room I could see colorful batiks and expensive European furniture.
“We waited for our host for several minutes. No one came to welcome us. When we called out a greeting there was only silence. I began to think we had come to the wrong house and I turned to my friend to suggest that we leave. Just at that moment a small boy appeared in the doorway of the sitting room. He stood completely still and his arms were raised straight in the air.
“Even in that half-light of the hallway I recognized the child as Okelo’s youngest son. I moved towards him, strangely moved by his haunting appearance and deeply puzzled. He began to cry and tried to speak but his words were lost in sobs. Before I could reach him he fell completely stiff to the floor.
“I bent down to pick up the child. As I did, I looked beyond him into the sitting room. A deep shock passed through my body. The curtains were open and the sun was shining through onto a carpet covered with blood and excrement […and body parts. Very graphic description of evidence of torture.]
“Without thinking I grabbed young Okelo from the floor and with the elder ran shaking and trembling from the house. The short distance to our parking space seemed to be many miles and with every sound I thought myself a dead man. Finally we reached the car, and I laid the boy on the back seat… Throughout the trip the boy remained motionless, his arms raised rigidly over his head.
“When we arrived at the house I put Okelo on a couch and stared helplessly at his paralyzed body. His hands were cold and his eyes stared straight ahead, seeing nothing. Later I learned that he was the sole survivor… [Soldiers from the army of Idi Amin had raped his mother and tortured to death each member of his family.] Twelve-year old Okelo was somehow overlooked. When the killing was over and the soldiers had left, he crawled under his bed. He had stayed there for more than a day, his mind empty and his body paralyzed. It wasn’t until he heard our voices in the hallway that he had been able to move.”
To be continued