Thursday, October 20, 2011

A man from Uganda reminded me that...

Last weekend in Chicago, at Brent House (the campus ministry of the Episcopal Church at the University of Chicago) I finally had the chance to meet Bishop Christopher Senyonjo . I have written about him in the past (including his work with the St. Paul's Reconciliation and Equality Centre in Kampala, Uganda and the St. Paul's Foundation for International Reconciliation in San Diego, CA) and how I have been inspired by his courage, his faith, and his determination as part of his ministry and mission for: human rights, women’s self help and advocacy programs, HIV/AIDS, decriminalization of homosexuality (it is illegal in 75 countries including his native Uganda), education, fighting poverty, and other critical issues. 

However, to read about him and watch his interviews on youtube quite frankly does not do any justice to this man from Uganda called Bishop Christopher, this human being called his humanity.

The following are some of the things that will stay with me for a long time as I (and everyone that attended 'A Conversation with Bishop Christopher Senyonjo') listened to him. This man from Uganda, this Christian, this human being reminded me that:

1) My path in life (like it has many times) will lead me to places and situations that are not part of the 'plan'. This can be very scary, but it can also be very rewarding.
2) That love and compassion are superior and stronger than hate.
3) That hate along with prejudice itself has no flag, no country, no religion, no government, no society, etc; hate and prejudice will use US in the name of flag, country, religion, government and society to do their work.
4) All of us regardless of where we come from can be either victims of prejudice or can be enforcers of prejudice one day, and the next day the roles can be reversed.
5) That education, knowledge, and compassionate dialogue are key against all types of prejudice. It is a risky venture, but it is worth it.

Also, I will remember his wife and her strong spirit as she spoke to us about how she knew she had to stand by the man she loves and how she understood him when 10 years ago he told her what he was going to do. It is truly wonderful to see two people (specially at this stage of their lives) be so committed to each other.

I will remember his laughter. His laughter during little moments like trying to 'correctly' fit his suitcase in the back of a car as he got ready to leave, or trying to find the correct page in the Book of Common Prayer :)

I will remember him asking me how to say "Bless you" in Spanish.
I will remember him giving big hugs to all of us.
I will remember his smile...

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