Jesus Needs New PR

Jesus Needs New PR

BEST OF 2010: A Reworking of Dr. King’s ‘Dream’

Over the next few days I’ll be reposting a handful of my favorite posts from 2010. I wrote this one late one night (maybe morning…) while I was in Uganda. It was MLK day… and the rest is explained in the post… I hope you enjoy….

In Uganda, it’s just after midnight, and therefore, Martin Luther King Day. In a few short hours I will board a small plane and fly with World Vision to the North section of Uganda. While many of us in America simply think of it as just another day off–something I’m certainly guilty of doing–being in Uganda has caused me to think differently about the man and the dream we celebrate today.

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…

…Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations that exist all over the world–in places like the broken and turned-upside-down roads of Haiti, in the war-tattered deserts of Sudan, and in the stifling ghettos of Uganda’s Gulu District…

…I still have a dream.

And I believe it’s a dream deeply rooted in God’s dream for humanity.
I have a dream that one day God’s people will rise up and live out the true meaning of Jesus’s creed: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”
I have a dream that one day in the dry wells of Guatemala, clean water will rise up.
I have a dream that one day those who live in Darfur, a people sweltering in the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into a community of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my son Elias will one day will love every man, woman, and child regardless of the color of their skin.

I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the country of Haiti, whose people cry out in pain, desperation, and hopelessness, will be transformed by the light and furious grace of God’s people.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be lifted up, every hill and mountain shall be torn down, the rough places will be made smooth, and the broken places will be pieced together, and the glory of the God shall be revealed, and all humanity shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I go today into the back streets of the Gulu District.
With this faith God’s people will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to hell and back together, to stand up for justice together, knowing that all people will one day be free in Jesus.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within; grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin!”

And if the people of God are to be the hands and feet of Jesus, this must become true: Let freedom ring for the child sex slaves in India. Let freedom ring for the African mothers who will soon give birth to HIV-positive babies.

Let freedom ring for the hungry child in Appalachia.
Let freedom ring for the Central American community who needs clean water.
Let freedom ring for the oppressed women and children of Iran.
Let freedom ring for the Haitian child who still hasn’t found his momma.
And let freedom for the young boys in Uganda’s Gulu District, sick with the indoctrination of hate, worn from the ramifications of civil war, and beginning to find hope in the good and loving hands of God-loving/people-loving humanity.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every ghetto, from every state, community, and city, from every homeless shelter and every church AA meeting, from every small group gathering, deacons meeting, and praise and worship service, from every home who needs food, medicine, and hope, we will be helping God’s kingdom find a reality here on earth and making true the words of the old Negro spiritual…

Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.
So today, as I engage the people of the Gulu District, will you pray? Pray that I remember this dream. Pray that the people we engage will experience this dream. And pray about joining the dream in whatever capacity you are able…

But just like Martin Luther King, if he was living today, in addition to preaching, teaching, blogging, Twittering, and promoting God’s dream… let’s be God’s dream.

To help bring freedom to a child, a family, and a community in Uganda, please click here.
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posted December 22, 2010 at 11:42 am


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posted December 22, 2010 at 11:31 pm


I do have a question tho. This is an honest question meant to get your thoughts on a difficult dilemma and not meant mean or snarky at all…

It has been my worry that mission work is cultural imperialism. Do you feel that you are being culturally imperialist in doing this work (for instance importing a Westernized religion where none may exist), or is the work more centered on humanitarian efforts while trying preserve the existing culture?

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