Christian Presidents

In most African countries south of the Sahara the culture is friendly to Christianity. Here are few examples: The newly elected President of Kenya, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, claims he reads the Bible often and says he will rule through Biblical teachings. The President of Zambia, Mr. Michael Sata, on welcoming Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury to Zambia sixteen months ago stated “I am very grateful for your coming to Zambia. We need lots of religious cleansing…this government shall be ruled on Biblical terms. This government shall be ruled by the 10 commandments.” Not to be out done, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, made a historic move last October when he led the nation in repentance of personal and national sins. He prayed, “Father God in heaven…we thank you for Uganda. We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal. Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict.” The president then dedicated Uganda to God; His nation anchored on His principles and values.

chiluba-fjt What are Kenyatta, Sata or Museveni saying to us when they make these public statements? Are they saying that they want to go beyond attending church services and on to what God has designed them to do? Do they want to develop a culture of justice, integrity and hard work? Are they saying they want to spend their time and energy imitating Christ (Ephesians 5:1-2)? Are these proclamations a public commitment to Christ like sacrifice and love?

Whatever the case, we must applaud them for standing up for what they believe. Following Christ in public office is not an easy task! They will need a local church and Christian leaders to assist them in understanding the interplay of faith and public life. They will need discipleship to understand their ultimate allegiance is not to their nation state, but to the one in whom all nation states are held together. The church must not end at ululation when leaders confess sins of corruption and bribery. We must help leaders understand that repentance requires restoration of what was broken.

Picture: The late President Fredrick Chiluba of Zambia, who first declared Zambia a Christian nation.

Finally, as church leaders we must not trust in political power to enforce a more Christian way of living. We should celebrate the dedication of our leaders to lead by God’s principles, but let us not place exaggerated confidence in the ability of Christian leaders to influence society by political means. Society will be transformed when hearts are transformed. Hearts are transformed when the church breaks into the lives of corrupt leaders, drunkards, witchdoctors, homosexuals and drug addicts with the sacrificial love and service of our Savior Jesus Christ.


Lawrence Temfwe