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Re: Statement from the Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Uganda
See Archbishop Orombi's statement at
Fifty years ago this month, as a licensed Baptist minister and freshman at
Baylor, I decided to visit a Pentecostal tent revival in one of Waco's
poorest neighborhoods. I went out of a healthy curiosity and as a conscious
effort not to limit myself to the Baptist Church or to the middle class. A
couple of my classmates, also ministerial students, sat with me at the back
of the tent. We tried not to be intrusive, but our green and gold Baylor
jackets made us feel very conspicuous.
Fortunately, few took notice of us. The revivalist transfixed the
congregation. They were in rapture.
Before the service began, across the front of the speaker's platform was a
large collection of abandoned wheelchairs, crutches and other medical
paraphernalia, apparently to prompt great expectations. Several times in
the evening the revivalist called people forward to be healed. There were
many tears and lots of shouting.
"Is he really healing them?" I asked myself. I was not sure either way,
and I knew that it would be wrong to discredit his claims merely because his
style was so radically different from that familiar to me. In fact, his
efforts to heal seemed more like the ones in the New Testament than did
those at the local Baptist hospital, where I was working as an orderly to
pay my college expenses.
In the row in front of me sat a young man about my age. All through the
service he participated enthusiastically in the singing, amen responses,
and waving of hands. He wore thick glasses. 'This is a way for me to test
the revivalist's claims,' I thought.
I handed the young man a scrap of paper on which I had scrawled, "Since you
believe in healing, might God not also heal your bad vision?"
I thoroughly expected him to smile, turn around and invite me into a private
huddle. I even imagined that his response might be something to the effect,
"God does not promise to heal all ailments. I have taken mine to God many
times, saying 'not my will but yours be done,' and now understand it as
God's will that I bear this minor affliction for God's greater glory."
That is, I projected my own theology onto the young man.
He was visibly shaken, and after half a minute or so, moved to the sawdust
aisle and down to the front where the revivalist was laying hands on several
afflicted persons. To my horror, the young man handed my note to the
revivalist, who, with a grim face, raised his arm to quiet the entire tent.
"Satan is in our midst tonight! Satan is right here!" he shouted, pointing
in my direction. "God is not mocked!!"
I wanted to disappear. In no way had I intended to mock God, the young
man, or even the revivalist.
After a time of praying and laying on of hands, the young man left the front
and stumbled up the sawdust aisle, resolutely refusing to use his glasses,
but not able to find his row. Someone with an aisle seat guided him to it.
Questions we ask in good faith have a life of their own, sometimes quite
beyond what we imagined or intended, or want.
I believe that it is possible for the Province of Uganda to "walk in the
light" even while receiving what it feels is tainted money. Indeed, I find
it hard to imagine any money, or any person, anywhere that is not in some
Archbishop Orombi's immediate predecessor, Most Rev. Livingstone
Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo, apparently agrees with me, or did as recently as February
2001, when he told me at his home in Kampala: "We believe it is your
Christian duty to support us with your money, but we don't want you to bring
your issues here." (see
http://rci.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/natter_old2/msg00058.html). I agree with him
that it is the duty of all Christians to support the needy, whether or not
we have their imprimatur.
I keep seeing that young man stumbling up the sawdust aisle.
I keep imagining the orphans in Luweero, the aid for whom Archbishop Orombi
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
L., Newark Deputy, Member of Executive Council
Confirmed as Anglican on 10/29/1961