‘We cannot face forward if we cannot forgive’: Lord Hastings’ charge to Kenyan Leaders at the National Prayer Breakfast

The 20th National Prayer Breakfast was held today. The event, which is organized by the National Assembly, was presided over by President Ruto and attended by First Lady Rachel Ruto, deputy president Gachagua, cabinet secretaries and other national leaders, religious leaders, diplomats, invited dignitaries, and children representing 47 counties of Kenya.

The theme was ‘Reconciliation to God and Man’. Different people offered prayers of repentance, peace, stability, and prosperity for the nation. Families, the economy, education, healthcare, and other sectors of society were prayed for. The president received prayers for wisdom, strength, skills to govern, integrity, and the implementation of policies and programs.

The keynote speaker was Lord Michael Hastings, Professor of Leadership at the Stephen R. Covey Leadership Center and Governor of the M-PESA Academy. He also sits on the Concordia Leadership Council.

He challenged the president and parliamentarians to realize that they are not in a position to empower themselves but to serve those who look to them for a spark of life.

He quoted Henry Kissinger, who gives a critical perspective in one of his books as to what makes effective, good leaders who lead nations like prophets. “Leaders need to see less from the perspective of the possible than from a vision of the imperative. Less from the ambition set out in their manifestos but more from the imperative that faces us. We need to put aside our divisions and do relentless diplomacy.”

In the words of Kwame Nkrumah, he urged the leader to neither look east nor west but face forward.

“But we cannot face forward if we cannot forgive that which has transpired in the past,” he said. “Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the other person is right. But forgiveness liberates us. It’s one of the greatest proofs of love. It’s wiser to forgive and forget than it is to hate and remember. The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of relationships and the liberation of mankind.”

Lord Michael Hasting speaking at the Kenya National Prayer Breakfast on June 7, 2023.

He urged the leaders and Kenyans in general to grab the hand of him or her who makes us uncomfortable, find the peace of Jesus in their hearts, and start a journey of reconciliation.

Lord Hastings’ quote from Tolstoy: “If you feel pain, you are alive. If you feel other people’s pain, you are a human being. This seemed to have touched President Ruto, who emphasized it in his own speech.

He said, “As leaders, we witness every day millions of our young people confronting us in our markets, in villages, and in the streets. We see those people. Let us not take photographs of them and walk away. Let us do something about their situation.”

He mentioned the challenges facing the nation and thanked God for the last election, which he described as one that was ‘issue-based’, peaceful, and with two political formations that ‘reflected the national image’.

“There’s no better time for us to pray as a nation than now,” he said. “We have an opportunity to give thanks for the far we have come as a country amid global turmoil arising from the pandemic, geopolitical crisis, economic shocks, regional conflicts, harrowing drought, plaque of locusts, and a closely contested election.”

The president said his government is giving its best in the struggle to overcome the immense challenges mentioned above by implementing radical socioeconomic programs to provide sustainable solutions to the cost of living and deal with unemployment, food security, and poverty challenges.

The bible readings came from Isaiah 1:17–20, which says:

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. 18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Matthew 5:43–44

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

The national prayer breakfast is spearheaded by the national assembly, both the parliament and the senate. Speaker Moses Wetangula announced that going forward, the national prayer breakfast will have a set date on the calendar, which is the last Thursday of May every year.

He urged Kenyans to embrace the spirit of reconciliation with God and their fellow humans, as this will lead to a prosperous and cohesive nation.


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