Yeah that's right, I gave a sermon. Take a second. Breathe. Pick your jaws off the floor.
I grew up in a very white Episcopalian Church with a very elderly congregation in Central Illinois, it wasn't exactly fun to go to church. This morning myself, the executive director of APP, and his friend were invited to a service at the condemned section (death row) of Luzira Upper Prison. The service was amazing and very fun.
But try to imagine this. Church in prison. Not just that, but in death row. In Uganda. And not to be stereotypical, but these folks aren't just black, they are African. They can dance. And sing. And play the drums. And they know how to praise the Lord!
It is also worth saying that Ugandans are very religious people. Christianity is by far the most popular religion and religion is taken very seriously. With that being said, when one enters prison, or in this case death row, inmates cling to what remains, and for most, that is their religion.
And although I am not religious, the service was moving because I knew it truly meant something to the people in my presence. They weren't there because going to church is the "right" or "proper" or "moral" thing to do, they went to church because they continue to have faith when there are not many reasons to maintain it. They go to church because the pastor is one of the few people who continue to care for them. Church and God has become their salvation.
Going in to the church service I did not know what to expect, besides the fact that I would most likely be asked to say a few words. (Ugandans love speeches.) I prepared myself the night before because I did not feel comfortable reading from the Bible and speaking of God, so I brought the book of poems that David Montieth gave me.
I read a poem that reflected what I have learned in Uganda and Ugandan prisons. I think it went well, that is with the inmates, they were just pleased to listen to a new face from the outside speak to them. It didn't go over so well with the pastor. He later told me that he thought my sermon was missing something. (God) And I told him the truth. He didn't like the truth that much and blamed my whiteness and Americans' love of material things over godly things.
Oh well, you can't win every battle.
7 years ago