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BE DISTINCT – LESSONS FROM AUGUST LANDMESSER

august-landmesser-no-saluteThis is one of the most iconic image to be captured on camera. At first glance, it looks like any other black and white image of its period, the 1930s. An aerial shot capture a crowd of people, facing one direction and all of them performing the Nazi salute by extending their right arm in the air with a straightened hand. The place? Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany. The occasion? the launch of the naval training vessel Horst Wessel. The date? 13 June 1936. Nothing is peculiar about that except for a lone man, standing in the midst of the crowd with his hands folded on his chest and a look of defiance on his face. His name? August Landmesser.
Mr. August was married to a Jewish woman Irma Eckler and this had caused him to run afoul with the Nazi party for ‘dishonouring the race’. On the day the photo was taken, Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s chief propagandist was visiting the shipyard to launch the training vessel hence the ‘hail Hitler’ salute. Needless to say that August Landmesser paid for his bold stance with imprisonment. He was later forcefully drafted into military service and was killed in action. His story and the picture would never have come to the notice of the world but for a book published by the daughter Irene Eckler in 1996.
The photo and story of August not only inspires but teaches me that it is possible to resist what is undoubtedly wrong. Contrary to popular culture, there are alternatives to conforming to evil even when it is pervasive and everyone around seem to subscribe to it. The Bible says ‘Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’ Romans 12:21.
August image and story teaches me to rise above the crowd, beyond what is popular and widely acceptable malevolence and defy any power that has lost moral legitimacy. It is easy to fit in, go with the flow, do what everyone else is doing, follow the pattern, read from the same script and become a carbon copy of everyone else. Sometimes I feel that the objectives of our standardized education system (basic to university), the 9pm news hour, entertainment, the political discourse e.t.c is to uniform all of us. Daniel 1:8 – 15 tell the story of four Hebrew boys; Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah who refuse to blend-in with the crowd. They choose a different path which was not only perilous but not as gastronomically thrilling. They said ‘NO’ to what they knew was wrong just like August did.
The image teaches me to stand for, embrace tightly and become what I profess to believe and love. I cannot be hypocritical in a world that endorses and rewards (at least compensate) duality of character. I wonder how many people in the photograph saluted even though they did not agree with or subscribe to Nazi’s dark beliefs. They did it to stay safe, save their skins and continue to live in the shadows of diabolical authority. Daniel would not cower to an evil decree including the one  issued by his boss, the powerful King Darius. He stood up (or more aptly knelt down) for what he believed and held as truth irrespective of the consequences (Daniel 6).
August Landmesser stood out by refusing to fit in. He was distinct. It caused him a lot of trouble. He lost everything, including the wife he loved. He lost his life eventually. We may be tempted to ask, what then is the point? I don’t claim to know his motivation or state of mind but I would imagine that he was not going to base his life on a lie for breath’s sake. It is not the length of life that matter but the quality (values and ideals). The fact is that we are all dying. It is the one common destiny of all mankind. The question is, what are we dying for? We have no idea who the rest of the people in the crowd were. We don’t know their names, families or stories. If they survived the massive allied bombardment of Hamburg, they probably went on to live long lives, raised children, dotted on grand children, kept a dog(s) (or cat depending on one’s preferences), worked good white collar jobs, belonged to a club, played golf on their off days and lived happily ever after in the safe leafy suburbs with a picket fence. We do not know them. We can only speculate. But 80 years down the line, we know August, because there is a photograph from past that commands our attention and a story to go with it. History records him with the evidence of the photograph as having lived and defied the evil of his time. He stands-out from the past.  He stands out in life.
As I write this, it occurs to me that there are many images of us out there (facebook and instagram mostly). There are selfies we took with our smartphones, paparazzi moments from weddings and funerals, portraits we posed for, and random shots that captured us in the midst of a public interest happening. What do they say about us? What our story? How long will it survive in the minds and hearts of earthlings?
Have a distinct week.

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‘Will Miss You Dearly’ : HENRIE MUTUKU Pays Tribute To Her Late Grand Mother

Life is journey and like when a baby is born there is another time when time reaches for one to leave this life. Gospel singer Henrie Mutuku and her family are on that path of bidding farewell to their elder mother so called Grandmother, Anna Themba Maundu, who passed on.

henrie mutuku post

On a note the christian singer paid tribute to her grandmother who is no more by referring to her as close keen whom she will miss dearly.

henrie grandmother

“My own parents would side with my husband in case there was an issue that would require them to pick sides. Not so with my grandma Anna Themba Maundu. She wasn’t buying into his nice, charming, godly churchboy image (which by the way he is but that’s beside the point). The few times we visited her and introduced ourselves (her mind required constant reminder due to age), she would immediately point at him with her age-twisted right-hand index finger and warn him in matriarchal authoritative kamba of dire consequences in case he ever mistreated me after which she would greet him with a warm smile. She had my back even when it seemed unnecessary.

I will miss her dearly till we meet again in eternity,: Henrie Mutuku shared.

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Link News 3

PART 2 : THE 5 INTERNAL CONFLICTS OF A GOSPEL ARTISTE

Spirit Led Vs Market Driven life
Last week, I began a series of articles on the 5 internal conflicts of a gospel artiste, mostly based on my experience. I discussed the ministry versus industry dilemma. I resolved this by concluding that we need industrious hands that are attached to and get their strength from a ministry heart.

the gospel

In this article, I deal with another dilemma; Spirit-led or Market driven ministry. The choice here seems quite obvious to anyone who has attended at least three services in an evangelical church. Right?
holy-spirit-1

The Bible is very clear, our lives as faithful, Bible-believing, Christ-focused Christians are to be led by the Holy Spirit. ‘For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God’ Romans 8:41 tells us. Galatians 5:16 urges us to ‘….walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.’

 

There exists no other way to live a fruitful Christian life victorious over the sinful flesh and it’s enslaving passions apart from a life fully controlled and under the influence of the Holy Spirit. I believe this with as great conviction as I believe that the earth is spherical.
What about the 1 Corinthians 9:20-23 which states ‘To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

 

I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.’ It could be argued that Paul is responding to his target audiences, judging their comprehension levels, adjusting himself or the presentation of the gospel to fit their ‘biases’ and predisposition. It sounds as if Paul has adopted an audience-determined relevance approach to the preaching of the gospel. A 21st century business honcho reading 1 Corinthians 9:20-23 would probably come to the conclusion that Paul’s ministry was, in certain aspects ‘market-driven’.
What does this mean for Gospel Artistes who are expected to produce music that resonates with the consuming public, believer or non-believers alike? I find myself trapped in this dilemma, walking the thin line between being led of the Holy Spirit and at the same time relevant to the world I seek to reach with the good news of Jesus Christ. If I get Paul right, I need to have an informed awareness of those that appreciate and respond to the gift and calling God has given me namely, music.
So which is it? let the Holy Spirit lead me as a gospel artiste; determine my style, sound, lyrics, melody, attire, video concept, performance (where and how), brand association e.t.c. Allow for ‘market’ force, my target audience to determine my style, sound, lyrics, melody, attire, video concept, performance (where and how), brand association e.t.c.
It is easy and quite lucrative to be ‘market-driven’. Interestingly, our highly electronised world with its numerous digital radio and TV channels (Hallo Professor Jackton), smart phones, social media platforms has not diversified our tastes (at least to a noticeable extent) with a majority, subscribing to, for-lack-of-a-better-word industry-defined standard taste for music, particularly gospel music. If you seek to prosper, particularly in local gospel music, you will do well to adopt, copy and perfect the pattern and I can almost guarantee a Groove 2016 nomination.

3D rendered abstract financial diagram and ascending arrow
On the other hand, to be led of the Holy Spirit would require I spend quality time in prayer, reading God’s word, seeking wisdom, direction and counsel as far as my music is concerned. It demands a life (not just music) of holiness, consistent obedience to God and a fervent desire to do His will always. It takes being surrounded and being part a spiritual unit with other Spirit-led believers for fellowship, accountability and ministry. Spirit-Led gospel artiste will not conform to any ‘pattern of this world’ given that they are constantly receiving their inspiration from the eternally creative creator, God. They will ‘sing a new song’, and ‘forget the former things’ and quickly align themselves, their life and ministry to the ‘new thing’ God is effecting according to Isaiah 43:18-19. Finally, a Spirit-led gospel artiste will need to redefine the term ‘success’ because Holy Spirit’s definition of success and what the world calls success are at times (many times) as divergent as night and day. It is possible, very likely, to be Spirit-led to write and record song(s) that will not receive much reception in terms of airplay, download, single or album sales. Ask Prophet Jeremiah. He was led of the Spirit of God to prophecy in Judah and Jerusalem about the impending wrath of God if the nation repudiated his call to repent of their idolatry, injustice and pervasive wickedness. No one cared. No one listened. He was persecuted for his prophecies and even when they were fulfilled and Babylonian forces shredded Jerusalem, its wall and beloved temple, Jeremiah ends up as a refugee, fleeing to Egypt to escape further Babylonian wrath. Was he led of the Spirit? YES. Was his ministry a success? That depends on who you are asking; God or man.
Spirit-led or market-driven? I believe we must be led of the Holy Spirit. I also know that Holy Spirit will open our eyes (like he did Paul’s) to see His people as He sees them. He will show us theirs context, boundaries, biases, values, predisposition, whatever is relevant for us in order to reach them with the pure un-adulterated gospel music. He will cause us to write, record and perform music that will cause their spirit to dance to the truth, minister to their real needs and not just felt needs. And all this will be to His glory alone.spirit-led
Please visit us here next week for no.3 of the 5 internal conflict of a gospel artiste.

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