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Published Date: April 30, 2007

Published Date: April 30, 2007

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Gender Injustice Destroys the Whole Family

I have had a burden for women for about ten years, but, with my African background of marginalization and oppression of women, I had failed to stand alone and fight for equality until I discovered Christians for Biblical Equality. My burden for women was burning because of the oppression my own mother went through.

From a dustbin to a university lecturer—my childhood

I was born to a rich family on 16 September 1962 in a little village called Kakiri in Kitanga Kabale, Uganda. My parents were happy, and we were happy children. I came when my mother had produced girls consecutively, and she was being despised by the society, as women were despised in our Kiga tribe. She called me Birungi, which means “good things.” But shortly after that, my father prospered, and, as he became richer and richer, my dad had love affairs and developed lots of misunderstandings with my mother. He decided to punish her by marrying four other wives. He called my mother a demon, and we were called little demons. Chaos fell on the home.

We lost all financial and material support and love from our father. He became violent, and he totally rejected us. We became victims of domestic violence. Our father started drinking alcohol so much that he became violent. Since our mother was a rejected woman, she suffered violence from our father, and we, the children, were beaten, denied support, and discriminated against. We developed jealousy toward our stepmothers and stepbrothers and stepsisters. Our home became a miserable home. Because of the low status of women, my mother suffered because she had no defense. The Ugandan constitution and other traditional laws did not protect women, but commanded them to submit unconditionally. The church also taught submission and perseverance on the side of women, which the men liked because it was empowering the culture of male domination and women’s subordination.

When I was five years old, my father decided to migrate from Kabale, where we lived, to Bunyaruguru, which is two hundred miles away. He sold our land and plantations. On the day we were to go, we packed our belongings in the trucks, but, just before we could go, he removed us from the trucks and said he did not want to migrate with “problems.” Our dad called us “problems.” We cried and cried and cried, but in vain. He went into our house and brought a tin full of charcoal ash and poured it down, and it was blown by wind. He pronounced a curse, saying, “My children, I am not leaving you with cows, plantations, land, or buildings as an inheritance. Your inheritance is this: May you be blown away with your mother, as this ash has been blown away.” He abandoned us without anything for twenty-two years. We cried and cried. We asked the ground to open and swallow us, but it could not.

The demons of abandonment, rejection, bitterness, and hate entered me. The curse and the fear of a curse entered me. My self-image, joy, peace, and self-esteem were crushed. It was a very painful experience. We started crying for self-worth and acceptance. Untold suffering and poverty befell our family.

Because of the low status of women—powerless, poor, no rights, and being seen as second-class people—my mother had nowhere to appeal and nobody to fight for her. Ownership of property belongs to a man. The family is a man, and the man is a family. Women and children had no say in society. We did not have property or land. We lacked clothing, school fees, and other necessities. We were heartbroken children. My elder brother suffered from a severe depression until his death. Another of my brothers became an alcoholic. We felt rejected and betrayed. Society rejected us, and we felt that our security, self-worth, and significance were gone. Our neighbors and some relatives did not like us or sympathize with us or show acts of mercy or compassion to us. They rejected, mocked, intimidated, and harassed us. Because we were many children, my mother could not care for us well. She could not qualify to be a widow and get the benefits of widows from the government, nor did we qualify for governmental support as orphans, because our father was still living. So many times we prayed for our father to die so that we could become orphans and qualify for welfare, but he did not die. This increased our bitterness and pain. I slept in sackcloth for seven years. I suffered from jiggers in my feet and lice in my head. We were always hungry, eating one meal a day. Many times we ate food from the dustbins and garbage centers and cried to God for help.

It was hard to get enough food, so we had to look for our own breakfast and lunch. I spent five years going to the dustbin to get food, which was thrown there by rich people. I sometimes shared the food with pigs, dogs, ducks, and scavenger birds that used to eat from the dustbins. It was a painful and an unforgettable experience. I am glad I never got sick. Whenever we wanted to get free food or eat good food and be satisfied, we would attend funerals, weddings, and parties without invitation.

One day, I went to a wedding where I was not invited, but where my Godparent/uncle was head cook. When I asked him for some food, he looked at my feet, which were wet with jiggers, and my head, which was full of lice, and he said, “You, with those feet like those of a duck and the head like that of a pig, will you ever become somebody?” He got a huge cow bone from the cooking pan and hit me on the neck, and I fell down bleeding. I was humiliated and crushed, reduced to nothing. I asked the ground to swallow me, but it did not. One of my infant teachers came and picked me up and put me behind the building, rubbing off my blood with her scarf and performing first aid. She looked straight in my face and said to me three times, “Medad, your uncle has called you a duck, but, let me tell you, one day you will surprise the whole world.” I thank God that, through Christ who strengthens me, I have surprised the whole world. I am not a duck or pig, but somebody of value and a servant of God. To God be the glory!

The man who bought our property allowed us to live in the house until we found a place to stay. We stayed in the house for ten years until my elder sister got married to a rich man and bought us land and built a house for us.

In those days, I never had hope that I would become a lecturer at a university, a pastor, or an international evangelist as I am now. I thank God that my background had no power over my destiny. Our destinies were in the hands of the Almighty God. He was the master potter, and we were the clay.

A ray of hope and false security

When my sister got married to a rich man, she not only bought us land and built us a house, but she also started supplying our other financial and material needs. She took over my father’s role as provider and became our source of security. We started rising from the ashes, from winter to spring, and our self-worth started to improve. Because I showed interest in school, she took me in, adopted me as her son, and paid all my fees. But, when I had passed my primary levels and was ready for secondary school, some of the people in the village connived with her husband’s first wife, hired soldiers, and murdered my sister. Idi Amin was the president in Uganda, and there was great dictatorship, tyranny, and lawlessness. More than 900,000 Christians were killed under this Muslim tyrannical president, including the Anglican archbishop of Uganda. My sister was shot with eight bullets. When I was interviewing with the admissions department for boarding at secondary school, my sister’s houseboy came and told me the news. It was as if the world had crumbled over my head because my vision of surprising the world through education seemed to be destroyed. Our security was gone!

I tried to commit suicide nine times because I felt I was finished. My brother had severe depression that eventually led to his death. My mother became very depressed; she suffered from high blood pressure and ulcers. The whole family was devastated, and our hopes and dreams were shattered. People mocked us, and some people, including my father and his wives, celebrated my sister’s death. We asked God so many questions. I decided not to go to church. I felt that God was unfair, and the concept of God as a loving father could not make sense. This is true for many abandoned children and children from broken homes. Because they grow up with violent fathers or alone with their mothers, it becomes difficult for them to understand the concept of God as a father. I thought all fathers were bad and unloving. I changed my view when God renewed my mind after accepting Jesus as my Savior and Lord.

I missed a whole year of schooling. Instead, I vowed to join the army and kill those who had plotted my sister’s death, but God saved me before I shed blood. To God be the glory!

The resurrection of hope

After one year, I joined the school, arriving without a mattress, blanket, trousers, or shoes. I used to walk sixty-five miles from Kitanga, my village, to the school because I did not have enough money. I put dry grass in my sleeping bag and knitted the top to make a mattress. I first put on my shoes and trousers when I was eighteen years old. While at school, I worked as a porter in the school by digging pit latrines, washing the school truck, cutting grass, and washing dishes and plates so that my payments could be converted into fees. I had no time for games and sports because I worked during free times. I had a poor self-image, and my self-worth had been crushed. My father’s curse, to be blown like ashes, was still ringing in my head, and I was bitter, angry, hateful, and tearful. I do not know how many tears came from my eyes.

I hated many people and was planning to kill nineteen people who made our lives miserable. My depression threw me into excessive drinking and witchcraft as I was trying to protect myself from being bewitched. I wore many fetishes around my body as protective medicine, and I was gripped with fear of death because those who had plotted my sister’s death threatened to kill me.

All these problems of family conflicts, child abuse, domestic violence, abandonment and rejection, absentee parenting, gender sectarianism, and community prejudice led to bitterness, resentment, hatred and self-hatred, hopelessness, a lack of self-worth, mistrust, shifting the blame, a spirit of rejection, and a critical and judgmental spirit. I had a grumbling spirit full of lamentations— a spirit of vagabondism, insecurity, jealousy, vengeance, and bitterness, all of which was food for the demons in my heart. It was during this difficult time that I met the Lord in the most spectacular way.

The revolution and paradigm shift—my conversion

It all began when the Scripture Union organized a conference at our school, Makobore High School. My friend Caleb Magara, who was born again, invited me to come to this event. I decided to go to see the Anglican Youth Fellowship Band. They sang very well, and I liked (and still love) music. As they sang, it was like a Christian disco. Coming from a traditional Anglican church background, I found it lovely to see young people singing and dancing in the church. What struck me was the joy on their faces. They were mainly university students, and most of them were my age-mates. I had started school at age ten, and I was twenty when that took place in 1982.

As they sang wonderful choruses, one of them, named Christine, said that God loves us unconditionally. His love does not depend on our performance or background. He just loves us the way we are. He loves us with an everlasting love. He can become our security. He is the source of our self-worth and significance. These words were like a cold drink to a thirsty man, as Proverbs 2 5:25 explains. I hated myself, and my self-esteem had been crushed. I had never had the love of a father, and nobody had ever told me that someone loves me unconditionally. I started weeping in the church.

As the music gala continued, another boy said that this God who loves us also forgives us unconditionally for every sin we have ever committed. He also stressed that his blood can cleanse us from all unrighteousness and would make us children of God. I had committed terrible sins: hatred, drunkenness, sexual immorality, witchcraft, lies, stealing, etc. I was planning to kill people to avenge my sister’s death. I felt I was too sinful to be forgiven. I wept over my sins one by one, and the list was long.

Then the band continued singing and, toward the end, Christine said that this God not only forgives us, but also commands us to forgive unconditionally those who have wronged us. She said that, if we do not forgive, we shall never be forgiven by our heavenly Father. She said that forgiveness means to pardon or excuse somebody who has wronged you, to stop being angry with someone or with yourself, no longer to blame anybody who wronged you, and to behave as if nothing happened; there was no need to pay back. She explained that love should be practiced among people who love poorly, and love’s revolution against unfairness would bring true victory.

She challenged us to forgive because it is a command from Jesus. Following Jesus’ forgiving example brings healing and repentance. It brings reconciliation and releases people from bondage. She said that forgiveness is possible because of the blood of Jesus, the name of Jesus, the word of the Lord, the testimony of believers, and the power of the Holy Spirit. She said that, when we are forgiven, we need to follow Jesus’ example, because he forgave people unconditionally, lovingly, freely, quickly, completely, patiently, willingly, wholeheartedly, openly, joyfully, constantly, indiscriminately, passionately, faithfully, sacrificially, zealously, and eternally.

I found forgiveness very hard. I stood up and said that I will never forgive them. That was my constant vow. I marched out of the church in protest with deep anger that could kill someone. Something was almost strangling me. The anger and hatred and bitterness were on my neck. I went to the dormitory, but had no peace, so I decided to go home. I went to Rukungiri Town and boarded a bus to Kabale. We had not gone more than twenty miles when the conviction became so much that I said enough is enough and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.

I felt a heavy stone on my heart rolled away. I confessed my sins to God and was immediately filled with joy and peace as tears rolled down from my eyes. I felt loved and forgiven and knew that my name is written in the book of life.

The journey of forgiveness and reconciliation

I hated nineteen people, including my father, so much that I had killed them in my heart. My heart was full of bitterness against these people. I had spent many years without talking to them or visiting them. Instead of forgiving them, I blamed them for every problem. I forgave my mother, whom I had blamed for contributing to my father’s polygamy and abandonment of us. She wept and gave her life to Christ. When I became a Christian, the Lord commanded me to forgive them unconditionally. I had such a conviction that I should not only forgive them, but also do restitution where necessary. I forgave people in my heart, and, to those who were available, I went and told them that I had forgiven them. It took me five years to complete the process of forgiveness of these nineteen people. I forgave the people who plotted my sister’s death. I forgave my father and my uncles and any other people who had hurt me, my mother, or my family. I also destroyed the notebooks where I had written their offenses. It was very painful to forgive, but it brought me peace and joy. Putting things right with some people was painful and full of tears, because some people did not know that I knew what they did and how it affected me and my family. My initiative to forgive the people resulted in reconciliation and healing, and many of them have given their lives to Christ.

I prayed for my father for two years. I had forgiven him and needed a time to meet him, sort things out, and assure him of my love and desire to have reconciliation in the family. Then he got sick and needed a major operation. On his deathbed, he put forth an announcement calling us to take him to Kisiizi Hospital, which was run by the Church Mission Society. It was the only hospital where there was a specialist who could operate on him. Incidentally, it was only eight miles from our home. His wives had refused to take him to the hospital because they feared we would kill them. We had not seen them for many years, but the hatred was so deep.

We had a family meeting. My brothers and sisters detested bringing him to the hospital, but I convinced one of my brothers and my mother. I told them that he is our father and our only father. We forgave him. We needed to forgive him, because Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 2 3:34). Our father did not know what he was doing. Finally, we agreed to hire a car and went to pick him up two hundred miles away. We found that he was in a coma and had been taken home to die. We took him to the hospital, where he spent seven months. My mother, Fridah, whom he had cursed to be blown away like ashes, became the one who was taking care of him, bathing, feeding, and tending him. We rode bicycles, taking him milk and food—we, the children he had cursed to be blown away like ash. He recovered and came back home. The day he came home we all wept and wept like children. He cried and cried and asked us to forgive him. We assured him we had forgiven him and asked him to forgive us too. He was reconciled with our mother, and my mother’s marriage was restored. He started loving us again, and God started using him to fill our love tank.

The birth of new revolutionaries

Our testimony started spreading all over the place and, wherever my mother or my sisters gave a testimony, many people were released and many marriages were healed. Wherever I have spoken about this miracle of forgiveness and reconciliation, many children, couples, and leaders have been reconciled. Since 1984, God has released thousands of people through my testimony. Many women have been liberated through my ministry; many children and many men started renewing their minds regarding women and have started promoting equality and justice.

My father went and brought his wives, and we had a reconciliation party. From that time on, all the thirty- two children were reconciled, and, up to now, we have had a good relationship, even if we are apart geographically. My father died some years later, but, before he died, he made me an heir to his household of five wives and thirty-two children, even when I was not the firstborn son. This was because of forgiving him and being a channel of his healing and family reconciliation.

The Lord started releasing blessings to me, and, as of now, I have three academic degrees, one diploma, three certificates, and I am completing my PhD this year. I am also a lecturer in Kyambogo University, the second largest public university in Uganda (16,000 students). I am also the assistant university chaplain of St. Kakumba Chapel, Kyambogo University, with three thousand members and four services each Sunday.

Those who killed my sister to block my education wasted their time. In fact, I now pay school fees for some of their grandchildren. When they get sick, I drive home and take them to the hospital and pay the hospital bills. I helped build a house for the man who beat me with a bone. I forgave all of them totally and unconditionally. My father’s curse was turned into a blessing, and now I fly to other nations preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am the founder and president of World Shine Ministries, which has touched many nations and transformed many lives. I have also been happily married for thirteen years, and I have five children.

I am still continuing to forgive as many people as possible, including church leaders and my persecutors who hurt me in my Christian walk. Forgiveness is my food and theme everywhere I go. It is painful when I am hurt by a fellow Christian, but I work on it and try to walk in love and forgiveness.

A revolutionary for CBE

It is this message of forgiveness that made me join Christians for Biblical Equality. Many people have built dividing walls based on sex, wealth, race, age, religion, and social status, hence violating the idea of biblical equality in Galatians 3:28. CBE is promoting this biblical equality.

There are so many women in Uganda specifically, and Africa generally, who are oppressed, abused, marginalized, and whose rights have been violated like my mother’s were. There is a lot of bitterness and hatred between men and women that needs to be healed and dividing walls that need to be broken. There are many women who are hurting in Africa because of the low position of women. There are many children like me who have been victims of the oppression of women and who need to be released and to forgive their parents. AIDS has also spread greatly in Africa because of the low status of women. The message of CBE, when it is well presented, will bring a paradigm shift, and all of the above problems will be solved. Christ redeemed our fallen nature and restored the woman to her full position in God. I would like to see women released to their full position in Christ (Gal. 3:28). I would like to see people, especially men, have their minds renewed from viewing women as inferior to honoring them as equal partners in Christian service. I believe in oneness, complementarity, and interdependence between a man and a woman. My dream is to see men and women working side by side, together building the kingdom of God. This is what I preach now, both in mission conventions and seminars which we have organized and in my church, which I am trying to make a center of biblical equality.

I love CBE and believe in its philosophy and interpretation of Scripture. My conviction and courage have been increased, and I am determined to take this CBE message as far as I can go.

To the ends of the earth

Our ministry, World Shine Ministries, is committed to partner with CBE in spreading this message without fear or favor in Africa and beyond. We have already organized various conferences in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Southern Sudan, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Finland. We are creating revolutionaries for Christ who are committed and enthusiastic for spreading CBE’s message anywhere, anytime, any day, without fear or favor. Our local mission partners are spreading CBE’s message to every person, every city, every day. We have a thirty-minute weekly broadcast on the radio with eight million listeners. The program is called The Women’s Voice. It is an advocacy program for women’s equality and is impacting millions every Sunday since 2 004. My wife, Connie, is the director of women’s ministries in World Shine Ministries and is committed to CBE’s work both in words and deed. Everywhere we are invited to speak, we include the CBE message. We shall spread it to the ends of the earth. To God be the glory!