Obang Metho Speaks at St. Mark's Anglican Church, Saskatoon,
August 20, 2008
My Journey of Faith
I will read from Psalm 2 in the
Bible—the passage that changed my life:
“Why do the nations conspire and
the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take
their stand against the LORD and against his Anointed
One. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they say,
‘and throw off their fetters.’
“The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his
anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I
have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.’
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD:
“Ask of me, and I will make the
nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your
possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.
“Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with
fear and rejoice with trembling.
“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry
and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can
flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge
Can anyone think they can get away with evil without
being accountable? Do the powerful really think they
can commit crimes against the weak and overpower the
rule of law set in place not by man, but by God—the
creator of the entire universe, including them?
This scripture warns all, but especially the most powerful
in the world, that God is in charge—human beings
are not—no matter how hard they try to “break
the chains” of God’s law and justice, He
will prevail and we best submit to His authority. This
will be the topic of my talk today as it was the scripture
that unexpectedly thrust me into the work of human rights
as a “calling” rather than as a job.
I want to thank Pastor Karen Sandell, this congregation
and my good friend, Clay and his wife Cheryl for inviting
me to speak today. It is an honor and a privilege to
be here. I am not a pastor, like my older brother, but
yet it is not the first time I have been asked to speak
in a church.
I could never have imagined it before a life-changing
event in December of 2003 threw my quiet life in Saskatoon
into a journey with deep valleys, deserts and mountains
that I could never have anticipated. As I stand before
you today, I am witness to the truth that God dramatically
changes lives, like my own, when we least expect it!
I was asked to talk
about my human rights work.
Today, I was asked to talk about my human
rights work, something that is closely connected, nurtured
and sustained by my faith in Jesus Christ. I did not
know that this work was part of God’s plan and
purpose for me, but now as I look back, I see that God’s
hand of preparation began many years ago when I was
a young child in Africa. I am from Gambella, Ethiopia,
from a tiny, marginalized ethnic group called Anuak.
Gambella is in the southwestern region of Ethiopia and
Anuakland extends over the border into southern Sudan.
I was nearly 18 years of age when I migrated to Canada
where I attended high school after which I then went
on to attend the University of Saskatchewan. Saskatoon
is my home, even though I will always have one foot
in Africa for I have never forgotten where I have come
from. Much of Africa is a poor place with no access
to clean water, education, health care and other opportunities
we enjoy here in Canada. Much of the reason I wanted
to come here was for something that is desired by most
every African—an education.
I had a very happy childhood. We were in such a remote
area, that we almost exclusively, were only around other
Anuak. I never remember witnessing or experiencing discrimination
or being told that I was less than someone else based
on superficial distinctions. It was only at an older
age when I was exposed to discrimination against darker-skinned
people, like myself, in Sudan and in other parts of
Ethiopia. However, it had little effect on my identity
because I already had a strong foundation. I can thank
my parents, my grandmother, my community and the teachings
of my ethnic group who viewed everyone as equal.
The word “Nyuak” means sharing and the word
“Anuak” means the people who share together,
eat together and laugh together. This was lived out
in our daily life. No one was supposed to go hungry
or be ashamed for not having enough food to eat so the
food would be in one container and all were welcome
to eat. The women would sit together and the men would
do the same.
We kids could eat at anyone’s home. During suppertime,
this meant that we would eat a little bit at different
homes, so we always carried our spoons with us. Many
relatives lived close by—our cousins, aunts, grandmas
and grandpas—all enriching our lives in different
ways. When outsiders came, they were heartily welcomed.
It was our culture and it was a treasure in my life
to be raised in this way.
The Anuak are considered an endangered
Just a short aside—although the Anuak are considered
an endangered people group, different Anuak families
have migrated within Africa and still maintain the same
language and similar cultural values.
These families are called the Lou people (also spelled
Lwo/Luo). The Lou are a family of linguistically affiliated
ethnic groups who live in an area that stretches from
the Gambella region in south western Ethiopia, the southern
Sudan, through northern Uganda and eastern Congo (DRC),
into western Kenya, and ending in the upper tip of Tanzania.
People who speak Luo languages include the Shilluk,
Anuak, Acholi, Lango, Palwo, Alur, Padhola, Joluo (Kenyan
Luo), Bor, and Kumam. Many of them have names that start
with O—like Obang, Odenga, Omot, Obama, Oboya,
Ochan, Okello, Ojulu and so forth.
Because of my protected background, when I grew up
and went to the larger cities, I discovered a different
world than the village of sharing. I found the world
of the individual—of “me alone.” I
also found the world of money, guns, power, greed, hatred
and tribalism. I don’t mean we had no conflicts
in our village, but our elders would help deal with
them peacefully. They would tell us that God created
us and that we have a purpose. We were to share what
we had because God shared it with each of us and because
we did not get on our own.
However, when I finally got to Addis Ababa, the capital
of Ethiopia, I saw that there were all sorts of distinctions
between people that affected how one was treated, like
dark-skinned vs light-skinned, having money vs not having
money, having an education vs not having an education,
having power vs not having power, holding a gun vs not
holding a gun—all creating a new class structure
that collided with my world as I had known it.
I saw people with money buying good things to eat, but
not sharing it with anyone else. I could smell the good
food, but never got to taste it. This is when I first
heard about slavery, how even Africans, Westerners and
Arabs in past years would sell other people as commodities
rather than considering them human beings. It was in
response to my disillusionment with this new and bigger
world that caused me to start asking why God allowed
these things to happen to people and I started to doubt
I already had seen the agony and suffering of the Sudanese
refugees who came through Anuakland in huge numbers.
I saw the displacement of many thousands of people into
the Gambella area during the Ethiopian drought of 1984
and the death it brought with it. I witnessed the guns
being used for power and intimidation. I saw the evil
actions of men and the lack of action by others. It
began my period of questioning.
It is worlds away from where I
Suddenly, out of all of that, I was able to come to
Canada. I landed in Saskatoon! It is worlds away from
where I had been, but I adapted. Yet, in Saskatoon,
I was one of the few black people around at that time.
I could go for more than month without ever seeing another
black. I remember going with my white friends to the
Midtown Plaza Mall and seeing a black woman in the distance.
She saw me too and as she did, she started walking faster
and faster—almost running to me and I to her.
We hugged each other in an emotional meeting, each saying
to each other, “How are you?” My friends
said, “Why didn’t you tell us your mom was
in town?” I told them, “She’s not
my mom!” The woman then told us she was from Granada.
I then commented to my friends, “She’s not
even from Africa!” We all laughed.
Things started going very well during this time in
my life. I was active at the university and developed
some good friendships. After graduation, I engaged some
close friends my dream I had for helping my people in
Gambella and they caught that vision. So began the Gambella
Things we take for granted here, did not exist where
I came from and I intended to help change that. Different
doctors and others from Saskatoon who wanted to help,
went with me to Gambella on several trips. I was thrilled
because we were hoping to received a large grant from
CIDA to begin a large-scale medical project between
Gambella and the College of Medicine at the University
of Saskatchewan. Then my world broke apart and we had
to suspend the project.
I blamed everyone, including God.
On December 13, 2003 a car was ambushed almost twenty
kilometers west of Gambella town and nine people were
killed. The ambush was quickly blamed on the Anuak despite
testimony from a witness that an Anuak police officer
who wanted to pursue the suspects had been stopped and
then killed. Within a three-day orgy of violence, 424
Anuak leaders in the community had been brutally hacked
with machetes before being shot by Ethiopian military
I was emotionally overwhelmed and did not know how
to cope with this. At the time, I was only a superficial
“Sunday Christian,” and this massacre deeply
traumatized me. It put me over what I could handle and
my weak faith was challenged to the core. I was faced
with the choice of either becoming a real believer or
giving up the little faith I had.
Imagine getting an email that read, “Read this
attachment for the names of those killed.” Think
about how you would feel about reading a list of such
people as those from your family, church, workplace,
high school or community.
As I read the names, they were no longer just a list
of names—they were the people I had laughed with,
shook hands with, planned projects with as well as members
of my family, classmates from school and my sister-in-law’s
father, a beloved pastor in Gambella. The reality that
they were gone was too much for me.
I blamed everyone, including God, asking why He did
not protect them, especially the pastor who was such
a good man. I could not sleep all night. Questions of
why, haunted me and I began to think it was also a punishment
to me. I asked myself, what was the point of all my
work and efforts now?
These were the people I had planned to work with to
bring water, health care, education and opportunity
to the Gambellan people. I began to feel guilty that
I was left behind. I realized that had I been in Gambella
at the time of the massacre, I would have fit all of
the qualifications of those who were targeted for death.
I knew I would have been on that list.
I started blaming God and questioning Him for letting
this happen. It was the darkest of hours in my life.
Yet, although I did not put it all together, God showed
loving kindness and patience with me. Little by little
I began to wonder if God had left me behind to speak
for those who could no longer speak. I wondered whether
He maybe wanted me to do something to see that the perpetrators
would be held accountable.
It seemed almost like an “order” from Him
to do so or a “calling,” like more religious
people than I was at the time, might define it. I held
to this thought and it gave me a source of energy to
carry on with more strength and determination as I read
that list of the dead over again with this new perspective,
accepting, albeit, with some reluctance this new purpose
that God seemed to be placing before me. Curiously,
at the same time, I openly asked others why someone
else could not do it instead of me, definitely challenging
what I thought God was telling me to do.
The crisis for the survival of the Anuak continued.
I don’t have to go into detail about the genocide
and how the Ethiopian military continued to kill, torture,
rape and destroy in the rural areas of Gambella while
the international community was mainly silent, if not
even resistant, to acknowledging the massacre.
I became connected to other Anuak and people in their
churches in the United States and two of us went to
the United Nations in Geneva in April of 2004, meeting
up with a former Anuak parliamentarian who was seeking
refugee status in Switzerland, to present the Anuak
case to the High Commission of Human Rights.
Despite half-accepting that God might have a reason
for me to speak out for the Anuak, I was still not committed
to God who seemed far away from me. I believed in God,
but I was not emotionally connected; that is, until
“my Geneva experience. “
My Geneva experience
One of the colleague’s with whom I went to the
UN was a devout Christian, found the location of a church
to attend in the old town section of Geneva for their
Easter Sunday service. This colleague and I had had
a number of conversations during the week about why
I should be doing this instead of someone else and after
each conversation she kept saying the same thing—that
it might be God who was calling me to do it.
Before we went to the service, she had her Bible open
to show a passage to me and before she could say anything,
my eyes caught the word, “chains” in Psalm
2, which stood out to me like someone had highlighted
it. Because I write poetry as a hobby, I said, “I
‘m going to write a poem about ‘chains’.”
The church was small, but very good and I was enjoying
myself in my usual “Sunday Christian” way,
but I was not connected to God. At the beginning of
the service, they passed out cards for us to write down
our names and I did not want to do it, but did so anyway.
I was not the first or last to pass it in, but suddenly
they startled me by calling out my name—Obang
Metho—and asking me to stand up. I did. They then
proceeded to call out the other visitor’s names
in order to formally greet us. In and of itself, it
would not have meant anything, but other things continued
to happen during that service that changed my life.
The sermon seemed so directed to me that it almost
seemed like they knew I would be coming and that it
was a “set-up!” The pastor talked about
people being called by God, but not responding to his
call; instead, trying to push back and to run away from
it. I knew I had been doing this since my first questioning
period as a youth in the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis
Ababa, when I first began thinking that God had an obligation
to correct things for people.
The man went on to say that God was calling “you”
and that “you should surrender and give everything
one has to God.” He said, if it was your money—to
give it. If it was your work—give it, your words—give
it, your song—give it, your life—give it
and to stop rejecting the call, pretending that you
did not hear it! He said instead, to “accept God’s
call.” Then, he added even more conviction that
this message was intended for me—he started talking
about chains and the need to break the chains of injustice.
This really got my attention.
I looked at my friend who was also amazed and I simply
said, “What?”—meaning, what is happening?!!!
The pastor went on to mention the word “chains”
several more times as he also talked about how we were
brought into this world for a purpose and that we should
live for those purposes. We then sang a song with words
about chains! I could not believe it and kept looking
at my friend with incredulousness!
At the end, the pastor invited those needing prayer
to be prayed for after the service, but again, I resisted
and tried to avoid doing it. My friend encouraged me
to come so we could have prayer for the large task ahead
of us when we presented the case before the UN. I finally
agreed, but with some reluctance, for I was wondering
what I was getting myself into if I accepted such a
Afterwards my two friends and I talked about my experience
that day, with similar wonder to what seemed to be “divinely-constructed
coincidences.” As I pondered what happened, I
decided I should start listening to God. I decided “to
give Him a chance with my life.”
I took a deep breath and opened up my heart like a
blanket. I started thinking that God had wanted me to
live-- not to die with the others—and that I should
no longer feel guilty for being alive, but that perhaps
he did have a purpose for me in all of this. So began
the beginning of my real relationship with Jesus as
my Savior. I told God that I was surrendering myself
to Him and asked Him to use me.
Each of us has been given this gift
From there, I started to read my Bible more and to
pray instead of pushing God away and simply going through
the superficial motions of a superficial belief system
that could not sustain me anymore and never really had
anyway. I knew I had a lot of debris in my head that
I could not get rid of and realized that God wanted
to help me get rid of it. He started becoming that source
of guidance that I was lacking and the source of power
that I needed to help me push that debris away from
This was actually not a new concept for me as Anuak
elders in my youth had told me that my life was not
my own to use for myself—it was given to me. They
said, it was not given to me by my mom or by my dad,
but by God. Because of that, they told me that I had
to give my life to God to use for better purposes than
I could ever find alone. I realized then what they meant
by this—that my life was a gift from God and if
I allowed God to guide and direct me, that he could
use it to help the Anuak or other humanity that he loved.
Yes, each of us has been given this gift of life and
we have choices as to how to use it.
In Psalm 10: 17 we read, “The
LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish
from his land. You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them and you listen to their cry; defending
the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man,
who is of the earth, may terrify no more.” This
verse reinforces the truth that God cares about the
fatherless, the oppressed and those who cry out and
that He will take action on their behalf against those
Many, not just the Anuak, but people all over Ethiopia
and throughout the continent of Africa are still losing
their lives at the hands of evil perpetrators, but God
knows about their suffering and has not forgotten or
abandoned them. His action and judgment may take time,
but God is in charge and is our only real hope; however,
He often works through ordinary people like you and
We are to be an extension of the hands of Jesus Christ
in the world. We are resources that God uses to make
this imperfect world a better one until Jesus returns.
God is using people committed to Him to fight against
injustice. He is our leader, guide and the one who empowers
us to fight the battle with him against the perpetrators
of evil; the same perpetrators for whom Jesus calls
us to pray when he tells us to pray for our enemies.
Our enemy is not the person, but the deception under
which these human beings live—the foolish thinking
that leads them to think that they can take on their
Creator and win when this is His universe and the chains
he established are His universal laws and principles
that bring inescapable consequences when they are broken.
As followers of Jesus, the only way to escape those
consequences is to believe in Jesus and his atoning
sacrifice he offers to us, when by grace, he pays the
penalty for what we have done and then asks us to follow
him and one of those things we are to do is to care
for the oppressed and marginalized.
God hates injustice.
God hates injustice. There are countless Biblical
references to how God cares about the weak, the vulnerable,
the poor, the forgotten, the widow, the orphan, the
homeless and the oppressed—all because he values
his people. He calls people to love and protect one
In John 15:12-13, Jesus says, “My
command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down
his life for his friends.” What we can
see throughout the Bible is that human rights is grounded
in the truth that God is the Creator and as Creator,
he has established universal principles of justice and
equality. One of those principles is the value of human
beings. All of us are 100% human beings, created in
the image of God and because of that, life is precious
and the lives of others are precious.
Yet, we and others can become like mechanical beings
with deadened emotions, having no idea of the depth
of God’s love for us and others, blaming God for
actions caused by men and women. We can even regard
ourselves that way, becoming self-alienated and self-hating,
beating ourselves up for the debris in our lives, hardening
ourselves to others, while never realizing that we need
Jesus Christ to deliver us from all of it.
“Bear fruit” by “pruning”
or “shaking” all “self.”
Since my experience in Geneva, life has not been easy. Hebrews 12:7 says, “Endure
hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.”
In verses 10- 13 it is said, “Our fathers disciplined
us for a little while as they thought best; but God
disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his
holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time,
but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest
of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained
by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak
knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame
may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
God does discipline us in order to conform us to his
image, helping us to persevere under difficult circumstances
while still trusting in him. This has been a tremendously
difficult journey for my own personal life, but I have
learned from it. It has brought me closer to God as
he knows how to help us “bear fruit” by
“pruning” or “shaking” all “self”
out of us so he can lead us. However, this is not an
easy task because “self” loves to be in
charge and may often be quite resistant, just like the
The following verse speaks to this process: In John 15:1-2, Jesus says, “I am the true vine
and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch
that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear
fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
It hurts when you are pruned. Let me explain it more
graphically. In Africa, a chicken will capture a frog
in its beak and want to eat it, but find it impossible
because of its size. Because of this, it will shake
the frog back and forth, hit it on the ground, whip
it against a tree or use any other tactic to break it
When the other chickens see all of this activity, they
will run after it to grab a piece of it, but the first
frog will try to run away as fast as it can with the
frog swinging from its mouth. I often have felt like
that frog being shaken and pulled by other chickens
by either leg and banged on the trees. However, through
God’s grace, I have learned to trust God more
than I ever would have if I had not gone through this
difficulty. Even when extreme tragedy occurs, we do
not always understand the reasons why God permitted
it to happen because his ways are higher than ours.
However, when I now think about the reasons why the
Anuak were massacred, I certainly don’t have all
the answers and maybe never will, but I have some ideas.
The tragedy of the Anuak has made
me open my eyes to the tragedy of other fellow Ethiopians.
The tragedy of the Anuak has made me open my eyes
to the tragedy of other fellow Ethiopians. Because the
Anuak is such a small ethnic group, it is clearly evident
that we will never see justice until justice comes to
Because we the Anuak are so marginalized for so many
years, it is evident that prosperity will never come
to the Anuak until prosperity comes to other Ethiopians,
not only a small minority.
Because division and ethnic hatred undergirded the
slaughter of Anuak, it is clearly evident that unity
and the appreciation of the diversity of human beings
within Ethiopian society as well as into the Horn of
Africa and all of Africa is essential if we are to live
in peace, justice and harmony with each other.
The weakness of the Anuak is a foundational reason
for building a society that supports the weak and the
vulnerable along with those who are already strong.
Through the tragedy of the Anuak, it is clear that responding
with hatred and revenge will only lead to more death
and destruction for our children and therefore, we must
find ways to forgive and to reconcile. I learned that
in a diverse society, our identity is God-given and
we should resist imposed devaluation of that identity.
Above all, I have learned that we must value humanity
above ethnicity and fear God above self-interest.
My first exposure to the “larger
For me, the way I was brought up, also helped me to
become a stronger person, resisting the conforming my
identity to what others thought of me. The devaluation
of other human beings, based on skin-color, religion
and other distinctive characteristics was something
I first experienced in the early nineteen-eighties when
I was only about eight or nine years old.
At that time, I visited two larger towns in Southern
Sudan, Pochalla and Malakal leaving my small, protected
village for my first exposure to the “larger world.”
It was at the beginning of the stirrings of the Sudanese
civil war between the south and the north. For the first
time, I saw how the Arabs at that time looked down on
the Southern Sudanese as people of less value in every
way than those Arabs from the north. Worse yet, the
people who were looking down at us dark-skinned Africans,
were also part African—almost looking exactly
like us. This was really confusing!
Someone with 25% Arab blood considered himself or herself
“Arab” instead of “African!”
The closer they looked to being European, the more superior
they considered themselves. Their inferiority complex
shocked me as I saw their efforts to deny who they were
and to become something else—not for the right
reasons, but for artificial reasons.
The extreme pressure to be Arab—to speak Arabic,
to have Arabic blood, to know the Qur’an and to
be Muslim—was a prerequisite “to belong”
in this very African region of Sudan. It was hard to
understand, especially at this early age. Why should
Africans feel ashamed of their identity and their look
when that is what we were? No words could express my
confusion after coming from a village and region where
this kind of class structure and the illusionary thinking
supporting it, did not exist.
The attitudes were so bad that some African Christians
felt they had to convert just to belong or to be accepted,
instead of converting for more genuine reasons. I found
this shocking that people had so little sense of their
own self-worth that they would deny who they were just
to be welcomed in this community.
God created all humanity in His image, but in this
culture, that was not enough to be considered as a valuable
human being. They were basically denying the principles
of God by substituting them with artificial characteristics
required for “belonging.”
The superficial ways humankind is
valued or devalued are found all over the world.
There is nothing wrong with being African—it
is exactly the way God intended us to be. Neither does
being an Arab, White, a Sudanese, an Ethiopian, a Muslim,
a Christian, an animist or an atheist make one more
or less human. Neither does it make one less valuable
as a human being when one practices one’s own
culture or when one wears non-Arabic looking clothing—these
are both artificial distinctions between people who
share the same Creator.
A shared language is only desirable because it is shared
and can be a means to help people better relate to each
other. Yet, these principles were not understood in
the “crazy-making” world that I entered
which suddenly clashed against everything I had previously
experienced in my life. These biases exist in Ethiopia
as well, but are not about religious divisions, but
instead are about class structure, ethnic background
and skin color. Similar illusions about the superficial
ways humankind are valued or devalued are found all
over the world, but people do not address these issues
and instead, sweep them under the carpet. These problems
do not disappear, but go on to traumatize the people.
U.S. presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama’s
speech on race is not just needed in America. It is
needed in Canada where we need to consider how we deal
with our Native Peoples’ issues. This open discussion
is needed in Ethiopia, Sudan and all over the world.
As Barack stated, “America is an imperfect union”
as he talked about his African-American wife’s
background rooted in slavery. The new Prime Minister
of Australia has opened the door to such open discussions
by apologizing to the indigenous Aborigine population
that was mistreated in the past.
We must transform our relationships
by confronting things as they really are.
The world is ruled by a system that even has invaded
the church. In order to transform human rights, we must
transform our relationships by confronting things as
they really are and by confronting illusionary thinking
that sets up a false world, contrary to God’s,
that eventually will collapse.
We consider ourselves as being the best of human beings,
living in the best system of government with the best
services towards others, but as Senator Obama indicated
in his speech, we live in an imperfect world, which
is infected with the attitude of looking down at other
people simply because they are not the same as us. How
we judge others and ourselves—as individuals,
groups and as nations—tells us much about who
we are. We too often marginalize, discriminate, neglect
Politicians, human rights activists, churches and schools
are not the only ones needed to solve these issues.
If our world is to be reconstructed and transformed
it will demand overwhelming participation by people
at the grass roots level. It starts with a transformation
of our thinking to God’s point of view about justice
and the worth of human kind as He made them—not
by artificial standards that demean them and leave so
many people behind in this world—and not only
in Third World countries.
In conclusion, the only way to such transformation
is rooted in relationships—with God, with one’s
own self and with others. It is a desire for individuality
gone awry that leads us to believe that we can find
meaning and happiness in life by meeting our own needs
in our own way.
For many, it means a taste for class, power, wealth
and other material accomplishments even if it means
exploiting or marginalizing others. However, when we
do this, instead of fulfilling our souls, we become
more and more empty and have little or nothing to share
with others—and in doing so, we are attempting
to defy the “chains” of universal laws and
principles that God has set up.
He wired us like a “wireless
We are all humans. When we were born, God did not
give us a class, He wired us like a “wireless
network”—to be connected to Him and to others.
The first and foremost relationship is with him and
he gave us a soul so we could be connected to the “Universal
Net”—himself. But we had one problem, his
perfect law and justice that none of us could live up
to. Yet, the crux of our Christian faith is that God,
in His love, satisfies the requirements of the law through
sending Jesus to die for us—as a substitute for
the penalty of our own guilt in breaking the laws and
principles of God.
As the Scripture in Psalms 2:12 says, as we “kiss
the son”—submitting to Him, we “take
refuge in Him.” In other words, through
this, our relationship is restored; filling our emptiness
with His presence so it can overflow to others.
This world is ordered for relationship. Those relationships
start from being strangers who then reach out to another.
For instance, Clay and Cheryl are reaching out—not
in Saskatoon, but to twin girls in Ethiopia who they
have adopted. At first, they did not know each other,
but soon they will become family just like children
at birth who are born to us as strangers until we start
to find out who they are. We should not stop with our
own families, but reach out to others.
We are all strangers until we reach out to build a
relationship. If we look at our neighbors as strangers,
we remain strangers and alone. Let us break out of being
“elevator people.” You surely all know how
it is in an elevator. People get in the elevator and
never look at each other. They stare at the numbers
of the floors before getting off and going their way
without a word or a glance.
We become emotionless and lack compassion
The world of human rights, genocide, ethnic cleansing,
child trafficking, corruption, loneliness, suffering
and oppression is perpetuated by remaining strangers
with others. We say someone else’s problem is
not mine, but God calls us to appreciate the gift of
life and relationship. However, if we are more concerned
with the temporary concerns of this life, we will lose
the opportunity to be in meaningful relationships.
We will seek happiness and satisfaction through empty
channels. We will be like a glass that looks full from
the outside, but is really empty. We become emotionless
and lack compassion for others. We start to hate ourselves,
others or both, blaming God for our own choices and
our miserable life.
As people turn into mechanical beings, unable to find
satisfaction, one can become self-focused and self-seeking;
running after the resources and lives of others. We
have sophisticated technology, tremendous advances in
science, but the laws of fullness are ones that God
set up and just like we need oxygen and water to survive,
we need to follow God’s laws. Regardless of whether
we flaunt or ignore them, they still exist. Loving God
and our neighbors are God-given truths that work in
any society. Yet, which country teaches us how to be
truly human towards each other irrespective of any differences?
I am as dark-skinned as you can get, but not a single
day in my life am I ashamed because God loves me and
made me in his image, just the way he wanted me—just
like he did for everyone else. Because of this and because
of my foundation in childhood, I am able to resist those
who demean me.
I have never thought that being dark-skinned was better
than being light-skinned or the other way around for
in God’s garden, we make greater beauty because
you and I are both unique and wonderfully made by the
One who is in charge of this entire universe!
As I close, let us look forward to that multi-colored
celebration of God’s people at the end of the
world as described in Revelations 5:9-10.
“You are worthy… because
you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men
for God from every tribe and language and people and
What a beautiful picture that will be!
For more information please contact
me by email at:Obang@solidaritymovement.org