I have been following the writer Matthew Paul Turner for a while and find that he often has a new angle on some of the challenges we all face in life and faith. He is currently in Uganda with World Vision for Uganda Week (click the image above) and is covering his activities extensively in blog – Jesus Needs New PR – and via his numerous tweets.
In a post earlier today (which will be Martin Luther King Day in the US), he pondered on what King’s dream might look like from the dusty streets of Uganda in 2010.
“On the flight from Amsterdam to Entebbe, I watched This Is It, the documentary about the making of Michael Jackson’s final concert series. Toward the middle, the film showcased a clip of Jackson singing/practicing his song “They Don’t Really Care About Us” from the album HIStory. Most of the song’s lyrics involve Michael lamenting injustice and inequality… then, toward the end of the song, he sings:
“Some things in life they just don’t wanna see/But if Martin Luther was living, he wouldn’t let this be.”
I realize that’s a big statement to make about any human being. However, Dr. King was indeed a man whose strong words against injustice were followed (and often led) with action. Simply offering big speeches and making grandiose statements was not in his character. Dr. King acted on the words he spoke. His actions were bold and loud and often scraped against the social norms of his time.? As I prepare for my first day walking among Uganda’s poorest of the poor, I’m wondering how Dr. King’s dream relates to the children I will meet tomorrow in the hot dusty sands of the Gulu District in Northern Uganda. In honor of Dr. King’s day, I borrow the finale of “his dream” and rewrite it in perspective of what’s currently on my mind…“
It’s a brave man that rewrites one of the most famous speeches in modern history but there is no denying Turner’s passion and heart for his fellow man. It certainly serves to remind me just how lucky I am and the vast catalogue of things I take for granted and should be continually thankful for. Turner’s post also caused me to recall my own post five years ago about how our lives were fleetingly but indelibly touched as a result of the genocide in Uganda.
“A few years back, we befriended and worked to assist a single parent from Uganda in her challenge to make the enormous adjustment to settling in the UK after her escape. We helped her set up home and, when Christmas Eve arrived, we visited her with a few things like decorations and presents to give to her children. Satisfied that we had done what we could without patronising or embarrassing our new friend, we spent a happy Christmas Day morning opening the presents we had received from each other. Answering a knock at the door, we found our Ugandan friend standing outside with a large package wrapped in second-hand wrapping paper. Refusing to come in, she offered the package with a few words then turned and left. We opened the package to find a ‘Welcome’ door mat, the cheap woven kind that one would find in every pound-shop up and down the country. Knowing her weekly income was less than we would spend on a family meal out and that the pound she had spent on the mat was no small percentage, I was lost for words and stood there quietly with a lump in my throat. I am under no illusions whatsoever as to who received the greater gift.”*
I saw something of Jesus in our friend Mary that that day and I only have to close my eyes to see him again her blazing eyes and beaming smile. Once more, I am called to make a difference – will you answer the call too?
*Later edit: The echo of the parable of The Widow’s Offering in Mary’s gift has just struck me – perhaps that’s why her generosity causes me to catch my breath even now.