Fr.Viateur Banyangandora Deportation

Here to are some headlines related to why Father Viateur Banyangandora, a Rwandan Priest, was deported: Rwandan priest deported from Zambia – The New Times Rwanda; Shock: priest deported;  Zambia: Catholic Priest Deported for ‘Poverty’;  Christians, this is what the world is reading! Zambia, a Christian Nation has deported a Catholic priest for preaching a sermon that allegedly exclaimed “cotton farmers are getting poorer and cotton buyers are getting richer, and the government is doing little to help the poor farmers.” The Zambian government stated that the priest was deported for inciting the congregation to rise up against the Zambian government.

There have been incidents in other countries where missionaries have been deported when their conduct was found to be a danger to peace and the good order of a nation. Any peace loving patriot will welcome such moves, for Christians are peacemakers. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure, when we are slandered, we answer kindly (1Cor.4:12).   When Christians, whose very lives are meant to promote peace between man and God and man and his community, are persecuted in a land that values God’s messianic peace, church leaders must not take such action lightly.

Given the absence of clear information on the cause of Fr. Viateur’s deportation, we are left to judge whether his treatment is a result of his faith or not. However, we should not remain silent. If his treatment is unjust and we keep quiet, we must not think that we will be spared. Mordecai put it this way to Esther, “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape (Esther 4:12). Martin Niemoller an evangelical during the rule of Hitler wrote these words:

In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.Then they came for trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak for me (Chuck Colson, Kingdom in Conflict p125).

In the case of Esther, Mordecai did warn her that even if she chose to be silent God would still preserve the Jews. Sadly, her and her father’s house would perish (Esther 4:12-14). Esther did speak up. Martin Niemoller also spoke up and told Hitler, “But as Christians and men of the church we too have a responsibility for German people, laid upon us by God. Neither you nor anyone else can take that away from us” (ibid p140). We do not know whether Fr. Viateur was wrong or not. Whatever the case, we cannot afford to be silent just because we are not Catholic. A time may come when we are silenced, and we will have no one left to speak for us. The church will surely survive, but we will miss the opportunity to reflect the character of our heavenly Father of being the calmer of storms.

Lawrence Temfwe