The way preaching in village churches works is: if you’re white and you show up, you’re the keynote speaker. They immediately take you to the front and sit you on the stage where the clergy sits. By the end of my four hours in this Bushenyi church on top of a mountain, I had given an unprepared thirty minute sermon and walked away with two dozen bananas and two eight-foot sugar cane stalks.
I had heard an amazing sermon two weeks ago in Kampala on money from a guy who actually had a real grip on the financial situation in East Africa. He was able to understand and deconstruct the prosperity gospel, and then show what the bible truly says about prosperity. So many people here believe that if you’ll come to Jesus, you’ll be rich. And in many ways, that’s not incorrect what with the knowledge, education, and networking you get in the church. The wealthiest in the country are certainly christian families, but those prosperity preachers never give the other warnings the bible so often gives. Money is the root of all evil. You can’t serve two Gods: truth and money. And so this Kampala preacher was able to show the dangers and then convict us that if God has given us much, it’s not to be hoarded but to be given away freely for the good of the community. 2 Cor 8:15. The corinthians earlier in the chapter were begging their leaders to not leave them out but allow them to give generously even out of their extreme poverty. They had a feeling that this living for your own nest-egg thing was a lie and that God was interested in blessing and working with folks who did not hold on tightly to their money. They did not want to be on the sidelines when many of their brothers and sisters were suffering financially. To me, this was revolutionary. The bible has a way of inciting the good of socialism without any of the terror that comes when governments force it. And the corinthians were living it. At the time I thought, the whole country needs to hear this message.
So I gave the same sermon to this small village in Bushenyi.
At the end of the service, I was amazed to see how easily they were ready to respond. Over the course of twenty minutes, all of the peasant families who couldn’t afford to give an actual tithe came up to the front of the church literally bringing their biggest and first portions of their crops. (at least I’d assume.) The alter was soon full of bags of beans, ears of corn, peanuts, mushrooms, pumpkins, huge matoke branches, tall sugar cane stalks and a chicken. I felt like I was in Genesis. They auctioned off the items to those with money so the cash could be given to the church. Many people gave me and the reverend the items they had just won in the auction.
Don’t we have so much to learn from Africa?