Joshua Lwere survived Idi Amin genocide, and now pursues reconciliation with the help of the dictator’s son
As a child, Bishop Joshua Lwere’s village was attacked by the Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin’s soldiers; one of the soldiers grasped the young Lwere around the neck and holding him against a window ledge, drew a large knife. As the soldier stretched out his hand to cut the child’s throat another soldier stopped him saying, ‘leave him he is wearing a (school) uniform’.
Many of Bishop Lwere’s family members and fellow villagers were killed that day. His surviving family members were not allowed to bury the head of their family’s body, which lay putrefying for a week.
Many Ugandans have similar testimonies. Yet, instead of harbouring bitterness and anger, because of the genocide perpetrated by Idi Amin’s government, by the grace of God Bishop Lwere learned to forgive.
Today, Bishop Lwere, is the overseer of the National Fellowship of Born Again Pentecostal Churches (NFBPC), a network of about 30 000 churches across Uganda.
He is also currently involved in mediating the conflict that erupted between government supporters and those of the opposition after the recent elections, which claimed the lives of more than 100 people.
Bishop Lwere has taken it upon himself to work for the reconciliation of Ugandans based on repentance and forgiveness.
Idi Amin’s son, Jaffar, is another who has repented. He travels with Bishop Lwere all over Uganda asking for forgiveness on behalf of his father and promoting reconciliation among his people, because he knows without reconciliation, and a softening and change of hearts, Uganda will not unite or develop.
Amin understands that the harbouring of bitterness and hate is not only destructive to the people it is projected against, but poisonous to the persons holding on to the animosity.
Bishop Lwere and Jaffar Amin addressed the men at KMMC 2016 with a message of reconciliation, love and the need for strong, loving families.
Family, Church and nation
Bishop Lwere said three institutions that were ordained by God are connected in transformation: the family, the Church and the nation.
He warned that without strong families and churches the nation will be weak.
“Each of these three institutions affects the others. When there is a problem in a nation, families and churches are affected.
“When families are not functioning well, churches and the whole nation is affected. When churches are not in their position, families and the whole nation suffer.
“On the other hand, strong families result into strong Churches; strong families and churches result in strong nations. When the church is doing her work right, families thrive, and especially men become better men and build strong families.
“The New Testament local Church is a spiritual family. When we are born again, we are born into a spiritual family and we are baptised to become integral parts of that local family,” said Lwere.
The Bishop said there is a move in some countries against the family through rationalising that the family is not God-made, but man made, so it can be redefined by man and we should not be dictated to by the wisdom of previous generations that does not necessarily apply to today’s circumstances.
However, he stressed the need to stand up for the importance of family and marriage.
“God is counting on us men to build strong families and children.”
Lwere referred to Genesis 12:1-3 in which God called Abram to leave his country, family and father’s house so that God, through him, would start another family, which he would use to bless all the families of the earth. This family would grow into a great nation.
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’.
“Abram left a family and father’s house to start another family. He left a country to start a nation.
“It is still God’s intention is to build great nations. God has a plan for nations.
“To build a great nation you build families because families are the building blocks of nations. But to build a family you build men because the man is the ordained head of a family.
“The man who is spiritually, morally and ethically built becomes strong. Such strong men build strong families. Strong families produce strong children. While the weak and unprincipled men build weak families and therefore weak children resulting into a weak nation,” said Lwere.
He explained that the rest of God’s dealings with Abram from Genesis chapter 12 to 25, was to change him into that kind and quality of man to build a great family and thereafter a great nation
As Abram progressed in God’s dealings his name was changed from Abram to Abraham.
“May God also change our attitude and values so that we value what He values not after the manner of the world (Jeremiah 5:19) and may He work deeply in our hearts to strengthen us in our inner being through the Holy Spirit not through impressive or charismatic personalities (Colossians 1:11).
“God’s call to Abram to use his family as a springboard to build a great nation applies to all of us. It is through your family that you are contributing to the building of the Church and the nation.
“As men, every single day that we build our families and empower our wives we are contributing to the expansion of the Church and nation.
“The success of a man is seen in the success of his family. The wife is the glory of her husband. The state of a wife tells you about the quality of a man.
“Paul taught Timothy that before he appoints any man in Church leadership, to first visit his home and asses him. A man that does not rule his family well should not be appointed in Church leadership. He will bring all his failure into the church.”
Lwere advised the men that the twofold roles of loving their wives (Ephesians 5:25) and training their children (Ephesians 6:4) is a noble task that leaves men transformed.
“To love our wives creates sensitivity and tenderness that produces the meekness, which makes us pliable servants of God (Mat 5:5). While the responsibility to train and direct our children and our household to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just (Genesis 18:17-19), turns us into God’s friends like Abraham so that he can reveal to us his plans of building a great nation.
“May God help us resolve unresolved issues between us and our wives so that every hindrance to the progress of our family, Church and nation is removed (1Peter 3:7). Likewise, may fathers be examples to their children through their conduct and lifestyle as they train them to follow the way of the Lord (Genesis 18:17-19) and may God turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children (Malachi 4:6) so they impart the knowledge and love of God in their children.
“I was blessed when I arrived at KMMC 2016 to see the thousands of men who have come to listen to God’s Word.
“I was also blessed by the sight of so many fathers and sons.
“I thought to myself, there is a future for South Africa, because men can stand with their sons and show them the way of the Lord,” said Lwere.