Spotlight 11/2019: Beyond the grave

In our “Spotlight” series, District Apostles share their thoughts about the respective yearly motto. This year’s “Rich in Christ” prompted District Apostle Joseph Ekhuya (Kenya) to remember a young Ugandan martyr.

Our Chief Apostle has declared that “Rich in Christ” shall be our motto for the year 2019. When I heard this motto the first time, it was a little confusing. However, as he continues to expound on the thoughts behind this motto in his divine services and in the Divine Service Guide, it is becoming clearer. This is the case in the Divine Service Guide article for the service on 6 January 2019. The Bible text talks about believers having been enriched by Christ in all utterances (1 Corinthians 1: 5–6). Here I think of Apostle Peter and his speech that exposed him to the enemies of the gospel. It says in Acts 4: 13: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marvelled. And they realised that they had been with Jesus.” Christ’s teachings and example must have influenced them so much that every time they spoke or did something, it was easy for anyone to notice that they had been influenced by Christ.

Rich can be defined as a condition of having or containing a large amount of something desirable. Milk, for example, can be described as rich in calcium or a country be described as rich in oil deposits. Thus, rich in Christ means having developed certain virtues that make one appear more like Jesus Christ. The New Testament is full of these virtues of Jesus Christ. They include love, patience, self-control, etc. The virtues can be summarised in the two commandments of Jesus namely: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22: 36–40).

Over the years, many believers have manifested their wealth in Christ in different degrees. I am prompted to mention one such believer in Uganda. At 14 years of age, Kizito Lukomera was sentenced to death for refusing to renounce his faith. History has it that Kizito was seen smiling and laughing as he was being sentenced to death. On 3 June 1886 (Ascension Day), Kizito and eleven other believers were wrapped in mats made of dry sticks and burned to death. He is said to have uttered these final words as they tied him up: “Goodbye friends, we are on our way.”

The young Kizito may not have left anything behind in terms of natural wealth, but one thing is for sure, He was rich in Christ. His legacy is evident when we travel in East Africa. One cannot help but notice the numerous institutions named in honour of young Kizito.

Photo: Oliver Rütten

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Joseph Opemba Ekhuya