When Uganda Martyrs sowed the seed of Christian faith in the world
Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2023/07/when-uganda-martyrs-sowed-the-seed-of-christian-faith-in-the-world/
By Pauline Luba
When King Mwanga, a former Ugandan traditional leader, ordered the killing of fresh Christian converts more than a century ago, he might not have known that his actions would lead to the sowing of the seed of Christianity in the country. Now, 137 years down the road, the death of the Uganda Martyrs is a reference point to the special grace that God bestowed on the 45 converts who chose death over renouncing the faith they had received.
The converts, who were pages in the palace of King Mwanga of Buganda, having learned about God, put their loyalty first before the Almighty and denounced the time’s unchristian practices such as polygamy. Mwanga was a polygamous man. However, the shift of allegiance from the king to God, the King of Kings, enraged Mwanga. He thus ordered the execution of those who did not renounce the new faith.
Every June 3 is a public holiday in Uganda, to allow a pilgrimage to Namugongo, near Kampala, to pray in remembrance of the martyrs who were killed for their faith.
At Uganda Christian University (UCU), the theme of the week preceding June 3 is most times centered around faith, endurance and grace, taking the example of the action of the Uganda Martyrs.
“The Martyrs help build our faith,” said the Rev. Capt. Esther Wabulo, the UCU Church Relations Officer. “And since UCU is a key center for the building of faith in our community and students, celebration of the day is important.”
She also emphasized that as a Christian university, propagating the Gospel is its main aim hence they derive inspiration from the courageous act of the Uganda Martyrs.
Many members of the UCU community often participate in the activities of the day at the Uganda Martyrs Shrine on June 3. For instance, for this year’s event, Wabulo, Bishop Joel Obetia, Dr. Isabirye Moses, the Rev. Richard Mulindwa and the entire Church Relations Department joined the organizers at Namugongo. Theology students at UCU served as ushers at the prayers.
The Anglican Church organized this year’s prayers under the theme “United for Service and Growth.” Dr. Foley Beach, the archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, who was the day’s guest preacher, lauded the church for sticking to the word of God. “Do not allow the devil to tempt us and lose faith,” Beach told the pilgrims, urging church leaders to “prepare people to do ministry everywhere.”
In UCU’s 25 years of existence, the Anglican church in Uganda has on two occasions bestowed the responsibility of organizing the Martyrs Day prayers on the institution – in 2004 and 2013 – an opportunity the university maximizes to advertise its programs to the world. In 2013, there was a double celebration for the institution as the Bishop Tucker Theological College was celebrating a century of existence.
The Rev. Paul Wasswa Ssembiro, the UCU Chaplain, said in the spirit of the faith whose seed the Uganda Martyrs sowed with their blood more than a century ago, students should follow Revelations 2:10: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.”
Ssembiro said faith is not a casual affair, and that, therefore, one must be willing to show resilience, no matter the test.
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