Baptism by Fire

Baptism by Fire is derived from the words of John the Baptist recorded in Matthew 3:11. John assured us that the one coming after him would baptise us with water and fire. The fire component of the baptism might be taken as a reference to the fiery trial of faith through suffering which purifies the faithful into being transformed so as to appropriately carry out their life’s assignment. It is any experience that tests one’s courage and strength in pursuit of their destiny. In the military, Baptism by Fire (BBF) is in reference to a soldiers first time in battle. It is that exposure the new soldiers face on the frontline that is meant to drive the timidness out of them and build a level of resilience. Someone who has just begun a new job has a baptism of fire, having to cope with the very many severe difficulties and obstacles as they learn and gain their grounding. The ability to endure through the fire, picking up all the required learning along the way and doing the required adjustments to fit in makes one more competent for the assignments ahead. Paraphrasing Romans 5:3-6 “Suffering builds character, character breeds faith, and in the end, faith will not disappoint”

Nelson Mandela at Robben Island prison

This experience either transforms you for the better or it consumes you to oblivion. Many of the transformational people in the world have had their share of the BBF. Nelson Mandela had to spend 27 years in prison before he became a president. Before serving his prison term, he was a paranoid character, bitter and with a vengeance personality. He was working on launching a Guerrilla war against the sponsors of apartheid. The BBF that he went through transformed him into a person of humility and conciliatory. He entered prison as a violent revolutionary and emerged as a nonviolent peacemaker and reconciler. It turned him into a realist aware of the difficulty of healing the racial wounds in his country.

Moses in the bible was raised and trained in the palace of pharaoh. He became knowledgeable and skilled in all the wisdom of Egypt. Yet when God wanted to use him in the exodus story, He gave him a BBF by first relocating him into the desert. The 40 years he spent in the desert as a shepherd helped him acquire a level of humility that he never would have developed living in the corridors of power as a son to pharaoh’s daughter. By the time he came back to Egypt for his lifetime assignment, he was a very different and transformed person ready to appropriately take charge of the exodus.

M7 with NRA combatants


His Excellency Yoweri Museveni and his team had to endure their 5 years in the tall grasses as fugitives, fighting and risking precious lives to eventually get the “jackpot“. Despite their many mistakes along the way, the learnings and character traits they developed during this time have contributed to a level of transformation and security that this country has had in the last 33 years. Colonel Kizza Besigye has so far gone through his BBF for the last 20years. His activities as he endures the fire have in effect helped to check on government excesses. It’s possible that had he not been in the equation, the current leadership’s corruptness could have been worse. I can relate it to the principle in which the bible says that God brought the Philistines from Crete ahead of the Jews from Egypt, settled them into Canaan so as to check on the possible excesses of the Jews and as a weapon against the Jews in their rebellion to Him.

Besigye during one of his incarcerations

Bobi Wine and the people power movement have now entered into the political arena. Obviously, there is a price to pay if ever they are to contribute and lead this nation. Whatever he is going through is part of the price one pays based on their desire to get the nation transformed at that higher level. How he manoeuvres himself successfully through the storms becomes the deciding factor as to whether he has what it takes to lead this nation. In his own words, Bobi Wine has stated that he does not believe in Board Room politics. He prefers appealing directly to the masses out there in the market place and of course this is where the fire is hottest. But also keep in mind that if the BBF is God inspired, He can keep you long enough in the “Baptismal Tank” until you acquire the character traits that He deems necessary for you to develop to be able to handle the leadership assignment He has for you. But this does not rule out the risk of one drowning in the same fire. The country is aware of politicians who have attempted to gain the same mandate but have not been in position to sustain themselves through the fire. They show up, raise excitement during build-up to elections and disappear off the political platform thereafter. Then we have even those playing on boardroom politics hoping to capture the same mandate without any BBF.

Bobi Wine during the Arua fracas

Like as earlier stated, this BBF can either transform you for the better or it can consume you to oblivion. We are called by God to be of value to the world. To make our contribution during the years of life that He has given us. He prepares us for those assignments and in many cases exposes us to this BBF so that we can become competent in executing our assignments and be of value. Times of testing at times are allowed by God for specific purposes. I submit that this BBF is inevitable if one is to ever be of value in this world. This baptism will come in very different ways based on the calling or industry one is in, or based on one’s background etc. The alternative is to stay safe, deeper into your comfort zone and pass through life with little transformational impact and at the end of time, your creator will be waiting for you with “open arms” as you explain how tough the world was resulting into you burying your talent without making use of it.

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8 thoughts on “Baptism by Fire

  1. I like that you relate BBF to our current political situation and make it easy for all of us to understand.
    Good read!

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  2. Brilliant piece this one is Michael. Your objectivity and ability to weave both politics and spirituality is commendable. Your writing style is also very appealing. You need to write more. We look forward to more posts when you complete the OSELC at INT, as you continue in your leadership journey to transform your sphere of influence.

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  3. A very interesting piece indeed. I am reminded of the iron sharpening iron. Similarly is how the iron smith places the metal where the fire is hottest until it is rid of all impurities. I guess we must each prepare and welcome the fires that be, for they only make us better and ready us for the significant future our Maker has planned out for us. I shall now return to the pastures, for the David is me is only still being tamed.

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