Festo Kivengere (1919–1988) was a Ugandan Anglican leader sometimes referred to as “the Billy Graham of Africa”. He played a huge role in a Christian Revival in Southwestern Uganda, but had to flee in 1973 to neighbouring Kenya in fear for his life after speaking out against Idi Amin‘s tyrannical behaviour.
Kivengere had been made Bishop of Kigezi and was among several bishops summoned to Amin’s quarters. Angry mobs called for their deaths. Eventually, all were permitted to leave but one, the Archbishop, Janani Luwum. The others waited for Luwum to join them but he never came out. The next day the government announced that Luwum had died in an automobile accident.
Urged to flee by friends who said, “One dead bishop is enough,” he and his wife that night drove as far as their vehicle could take them and with the help of local church people in the hills they walked until the next morning brought them to safety across the border in Rwanda.
He later authored the book I Love Idi Amin to emphasize the qualities of forgiveness for those who wronged you and love of those who persecute you. Kivengere stated, “On the cross, Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, because they know not what they do.’ As evil as Idi Amin is, how can I do less toward him?”
Bishop Festo was invited by Michael Cassidy to join African Enterprise in 1969 and to build up a team of AE evangelists in East Africa. He returned to Uganda after Amin’s downfall to continue an active ministry until his death by leukemia in 1988.
Kivengere was known as a great storyteller and often thrilled his own and other’s children with his storytelling skills. A favourite story of his: “One day a little girl sat watching her mother working in the kitchen. She asked her mummy, ‘What does God do all day long?’ For a while the mother was stumped, but then she said, “Darling, I’ll tell you what God does all day long. He spends his whole day mending broken things.”
After 60 years of Ministry a Solemn Assembly would give time and space to reflect.
“Solemn assemblies are for the purpose of spiritual renewal … with the intent of
- Turning more fully to God’s grace offered to us in Christ through repentance and confession.
- Laying ourselves bare before the Holy One in prayer
- Listening for the Spirits’ still small voice through scripture and preaching” 
Before a Solemn Assembly concludes in praise and worship, there is much time spent on Reflection, Repentance, Forgiveness and Reconciliation
In the “Spiritual Disciplines Handbook , Miroslav Volf says
“It is so crucial to see our forgiving not simply as our own act, but as participation in God’s forgiving.
Our forgiving is faulty. God’s forgiving is faultless.
Our forgiving is provisional. God’s is final…
The only way we dare forgive is by making our forgiving transparent to God’s forgiving and always open to revision.
After all, our forgiveness is only possible as an echo of God’s” 2
Forgiveness is hard. You cannot pretend things are fine when you feel stabbed in the heart and trust is gone.
“True forgiveness … is a costly heart rending process.”
The Chapter on the Discipline of Forgiveness, in its section labelled “practice [of Forgiveness] includes;
- Forgiving myself for my mistakes and limits, as God has forgiven me
- Attaching my heart to God’s forgiving heart and extending God’s forgiveness when I can’t extend my own
- Naming wrongdoing, for justice sake, but asking for grace to see the wrong-doer apart from their actions.
- Not tying forgiveness to another’s admission for wrong doing
- Discerning between forgiveness and collusion in perpetual abuse 
May we all be healed and changed as we seek to forgive
Prayer for you as an individual to quietly work through with God alone
- “Take time to come before God and write your list of things you need to forgive
- Ask God to extend forgiveness for those things you feel you can’t yet forgive
- Name wrong doing for justices sake, and ask for grace to see the wrong-doer apart from their actions
- Ask God to assist you to not .. expect an admission of wrongdoing
- Ask God to help you discern between forgiveness and collusion in perpetual abuse, [and if found, pray for the perpetual abuse to cease]”
This prayer may take time to work through with God’s help and make take time for change and reconciliation to come.
- Biblical and Historical Background on Solemn Assemblies. – Presbyterian Church of USA. Web address; presbyterianmission.org
- Spiritual Disciplines Handbook; Practices that Transform us – Adele Ahlburg Calhoun . IVP 2015 Available in Paperback and e-reader
2 CORINTHIANS 5: 17-18
For sure we have stepped into the month of January in the New Year – 2022. For that gift or allocation of a new year we offer our thanks and praise to God the Almighty who has surely extended His “goodness and love” (Psalm 23 v 6) to all of us. This is the right time to reflect on our highlights and (also lowlights) in the past year and beyond. How can we reconcile the past through reflections?
The main purpose of a reconciliation by reflection is to restore a broken relationship. In Genesis 3, we see the first picture of the fall of our ancestors- Adam and Eve simply because of the sin of disobedience. On one hand, God reflected on this and gave them the deserving punishment /wages of sin, that is death. This is eternally sad news.
But the good news is that, through grace and mercy, God set up a continuous masterplan for the prodigal man/woman to be reconciled to the Loving Father. This reconciliation is based on forgiveness and not our record of sins. Reflecting on this, David says in Psalm 130: 3-4 (NIV): “If you O Lord kept a record of sins, O Lord who could stand? V4-But with you there is forgiveness…” God does not give up on His children who will choose the path of reconciliation.
May the message of Reflection and Reconciliation help us to clearly understand our identity and purpose in this life. In Christ we are a new creation. In 2 Corinthians 5: 17-18, Apostle Paul underlines our identity and ministry. Verse 17 says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he (plural) is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” I sincerely pray that we may experience some spiritual “newness” in our lives in 2022.
In verse 18 we see our purpose; “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” Indeed, we are the reconciled team of brethren and we have the corporate privilege of reconciling the lost to the all-loving Saviour, Jesus Christ. As AE family, may we minister this message of reconciliation throughout the world in 2022 and beyond.