One Thursday the members of the St. Charles Lwanga Small
Christian Community (SCC) in Nairobi, Kenya gathered at Martina’s home to
reflect on the Bible and apply it to their daily lives. It was the second week
of Lent and they chose a passage from Chapter 24 of St. Luke’s Gospel especially
verse 26: "Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and
then enter into his glory?"
Different SCC members reflected on this great mystery that
Jesus Christ had to suffer and die before he could enter into his glory. Stephen
quoted the text from John 12:24: "Unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground
and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
Philip compared this to the corn seed that he and other farmers buried in the
soil before it could grow into a tall stalk with many ears of corn.
Magdalena commented that Jesus Christ suffered and died
almost 2,000 years ago, but his suffering and death are relived in our own
suffering and death here in Africa. A young schoolboy Thomas said, "How can this
be so? Jesus lived and died many, many years ago in a far off country."
This started a lively discussion among the SCC members.
The leader Martina mentioned that the following day, Friday, many Christians
would gather in church to follow The Stations of the Cross a weekly event during
Lenten Season. She said, "We are accustomed to follow the stations as described
in the gospel accounts of Good Friday. But if Jesus’ sufferings continue in the
world today then we have our own Way of the Cross. Thomas broke in, "You mean
it’s like we have our own African Way of the Cross?"
"That’s it," exclaimed Stephen. "The original stations of
the cross are being relived in different ways here in our own lives, here in our
own country, here in Africa." Then the SCC members started giving examples of
how each original station has a parallel in their own lives today. They chose
local examples of crosses and sufferings as well as those afflicting the whole
continent of Africa, urban examples as well as rural ones. Soon the time of the
SCC meeting was over so they decided to continue the discussion the following
week. It took a third meeting to agree on all the parallels for an African Way
of the Cross.
Martina carefully wrote down each "African Station" and
read them out to the whole St. Charles Lwanga SCC during their meeting on the
Thursday before Holy Week. Philip commented, "This helps me to understand the
Bible in a new way. It’s not just an old book from far away. The scriptures,
especially the New Testament, really speak to us here and now." "But there’s
something still missing," said Magdalena. "I know we are used to fourteen
stations with the last one being ‘Jesus is Laid in the Tomb.’ But someone told
me we are allowed to have a fifteenth station ‘the Resurrection of Jesus
Christ." "Well, let’s add this station," suggested Martina. "It represents our
faith and hope as Christians." Also it emphasizes that Jesus Christ overcame
death something very important to us Africans. Remember two of our African names
for Jesus Christ are ‘Victor Over Death’ and the ‘Medicine of Eternal Life.’
Everyone agreed. Magdalena was particularly pleased and said, "The Resurrection
also expresses the joy and hope we have as African Christians."
So with a little more discussion and revision Martina was
ready to read aloud the complete text to the whole SCC. It went like this:
African Way of the Cross Following Our Local African
Situation Especially the Sufferings, Crosses, and Problems of Our Everyday Life
1st Station: "Jesus is Condemned to Death."
Theme: Apartheid, Detention without Trial, Discrimination, Favoritism,
Violations of Human Rights, Hypocrisy, Injustice, Torture, Tribalism, Ethnic
Cleansing, Genocide, and Unfair Trials.
2nd Station: "Jesus Takes Up His Cross."
Theme: Hunger, Famine, Drought, Dirty Water, and Floods.
3rd Station: "Jesus Falls the First Time."
Theme: Sin Especially Breaking the Ten Commandments.
4th Station: "Jesus Meets His Mother."
Theme: Family Problems, Wife beating, Polygamy, Unwanted Pregnancies, Unwanted
Orphans, Discord, Hatred, Holding Grudges, In fighting, and Jealousy.
5th Station: "Simon of Cyrene Takes up the Cross of Jesus."
Theme: Laziness, Selfishness, Difficulties in Traveling, and Dangerous Driving.
6th Station: "Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus."
Theme: Sickness (especially AIDS, Dehydration, Malaria, Malnutrition, and
Tuberculosis), Ignorance About Health, and Scarcity of Medicine and Health Care.
7th Station: "Jesus Falls the Second Time."
Theme: Drunkenness and Witchcraft.
8th Station: "The Women of Jerusalem Weep for Jesus."
Theme: Lying and Deceit.
9th Station: "Jesus Falls the Third Time."
Theme: Blackmail, Bribery, Corruption, Fraud, Graft, Smuggling, Inflated Prices,
High Rent, Low Wages, Lack of Jobs, IMF and SAP Regulations, and the External
10th Station: "Jesus is Stripped of His Garments."
Theme: Poverty, Nakedness, and the Plight of Refugees, Displaced People, and
11th Station: "Jesus is Nailed to the Cross."
Theme: Political Dictatorships, Military Oppression, Civil War, and Nuclear
12th Station: "Jesus Dies on the Cross."
Theme: Accidental Deaths and High Children Mortality.
13th Station: "Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross."
Theme: Backbiting, Calumny, Contempt, False Rumors, Gossip, and Insults.
14th Station: "Jesus is Laid in the Tomb."
Theme: Sadness, Despair, Inadequate Housing, and Unjust Land Distribution.
15th Station: "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Theme: Jesus Christ Overcomes Death and Brings the Joy and Hope of Everlasting
When Martina finished reading the stations, Stephen said,
"I feel we have really named our own daily crosses and concrete examples of the
suffering and struggles of people throughout Africa. During Holy Week we can
reflect and pray about them in a deeper way." "Yes," Philip added, "and as Jesus
Christ Himself did, be ready to sacrifice ourselves for others, to be men and
women for others."