What you need to know:
- What would the carpenter’s son from Nazareth himself say to Pastor Bujingo?
If social media is to be believed, Pastor Aloysius Bujingo of House of Prayer Ministries International (Kikoni, Kampala) first came to the capital city of Uganda on the back of an army truck as he could not afford the fare by taxi.
As recently as late August, while still inside a protracted legal process with his estranged wife Teddy Naluswa, he was quoted as having declared that she can take possession of all their jointly owned property – including house, land titles, and cars – as he is comfortably wealthy without the said property.
The worthy wealthy pastor added that among the possessions he did not have at the time of his hardship ride on the back of the army truck was his subsequent and current knowledge of God. In his exact words, “I…am still doing well financially, (and) I have God even though I didn’t know him at first.”
Wow, it is a tale of ‘from penury to plenty’, from pauper to pastor, priest, or prophet; from distress zone to comfort zone, so help us all, dear God.
But at this point my brain went into a spin. Scriptures of promises and warnings and admonitions to the faithful and the faithless came flashing across my inner screen… “After these things seek the pagans… but you first seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness….and these things shall be added to you as bonus…”
All these things, which things? Ah, it says the things to eat, to drink, and to wear. These constitute the basics which the faithful and those “of little faith” as well as those of “no faith” seek after.
But just a minute! There appears to be not only a condition to the promise (seek you first his kingdom and live righteously), there is also exclusion!
Assuming that we already have shelter for our bodies by the time we experience the need for food, drink, and clothing – the exclusion is that we shall be given all that we need, not all that we want! (Pastor Bujingo, does our vaunted wealth address a need? Is wealth a priority, a peripheral, or a bonus?)
“And there is the rub”, as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet would say. And there, and that is the point, the crux of the matter.
What would the carpenter’s son from Nazareth himself say to Pastor Bujingo and me? Well, he once put it in the form of a story. About the foolish farmer – who was not rich towards God – whose fields yielded a rich harvest, and he said to himself, “I know what to do: I will build bigger barns and store all my harvest in there; and then I will say to my soul, ‘Hello my wonderful and industrious self, you have more than enough laid up for you for a long time to come: sit back, relax, and eat your way into the future.’” But from that very night he had no more future, thus concludes the story.
And so, the successful foolish farmer stored away in his barns as much as he wanted – not as much as he needed.
Second to flash onto my inner screen was the story, recorded in the good old book, of God in eternity choosing to substance himself into time and space wearing a human body for the duration of 33 years for the purpose of visually dramatising his divine purpose for the human race – and he arriving in our mundane world, not via a king’s resplendent palace, not with spectacular fanfare, but via a stable littered with animal dung at the back of an inn that is full to capacity.
Thirty-three years on, it is the terminal week of his terrestrial mission, and he has to ride to the capital city of Jerusalem in visible triumph. And how does he go about it? Wonder of wonders: instead of materialising a heavenly chariot of fire for the occasion – he borrows a donkey! A-ya-ya-ya!
Prof Timothy Wangusa is a poet and novelist.