The need for African Christians to engage in missions is high. With the face of Christianity changing, will Africa rise up and take its place in history?
Why African Christians Should Engage In Missions.
There’s not going to be a time that is convenient for us to engage in mission. There’s not going to be a time when the sea will rest
What if the only Christians left in Uganda was you and your neighbour, the people right in this room. What would you do? How would you strategise in such a way that you would thrive?
Topics & Timestamps
0:00 – Doing church with no church buildings
3:25 – The East African Revival
8:10 – Why every Christian should engage in missions
10:20 – The needs of the nations
22:39 – Why Africa should engage in missions
26:46 – The changing face of Christianity
35:07 – Why Uganda should engage in missions
40:58 – The powerful Ugandan church history
49:00 – Common excuses to not get involved
Top Quotes: African Christians Must Engage In Missions
“Four out of ten people on earth live in an unreached people group. And who is going there? It is you and me.”
“The face of the body of Christ has changed. There’s a shift. What does this mean for us?”
“There’s not going to be a time that is convenient for us to engage in mission. There’s not going to be a time when the sea will rest”
Other Content On This Topic
Text: Matthew 28:18-20
Date preached: 29 May 2021
Location: Engage 2021 Mission Gathering, Lugogo Baptist Church, Kampala, Uganda
The Last Christians On Earth
All Christians are witnesses of Christ, stop spectating, let’s engage. In Uganda, this is the call: let’s engage. As we start I want to begin by asking us three questions. Questions that I would want for you and me to reflect upon. And we’re going to kind of do a simulation of sorts. Now COVID has taught us, Evan did mention, but let’s keep our masks on. If you don’t have a mask there is a free one right at the table that could be availed to you. Let’s keep our masks on to be sure that we are safe towards one another.
COVID has taught us many things. And one of those things that the church grappled with when the pandemic broke out was how do you do church when the buildings are closed? And I got to discover, one missiologist Alan Hirsch had actually using the Church Of England, had gone out and done a simulation of sorts. Assuming all the churches of England were closed, how would the church continue being church? And that was about 10 years ago in 2010. And that kind of helped to inform us on how to engage with the pandemic here.
But think about it, and God forbid, but think about it. What if the only Christians left in Uganda, what if the only Christians that were left in Uganda and in the world, were you that is here. Okay? And let’s join me on this. What if the only Christians left in Uganda was you and your neighbour? The people right in this room. You are the Christians that have been left and you are the only ones in this room. What would you do? What would you do to strategise in such a way that you would thrive?
And we are the ones that are in here the Christians, the only Christians. And something has happened, and join me on this, something has happened and we here are the only ones. And now here we are and we are thinking, “This has to thrive. This has to go on.” How do we even strategise? How do we move on?
Join me in thinking what would be our goal. What would be our goal? If this was the entire, no, we were the only ones, the string upon which this faith in this nation kind of hang as the only Christians? And now you may be saying, “There are pastors, here there are people who have studied theology here. There are pastors, there are teachers.” Probably the composition here, because we are leaders may be a bit different. But let’s push it a bit further … in your church where there is that mama who sells in the market, where there’s that person who works in the bank, where there’s that stay at home mom, where’s that individual who is a student? The only ones that are left. What would you actually do? What would you do to actually propel this to move on and ensure that this mission agenda is accomplished? Now think about it.
The East African Revival
And I’m sure you’d begin thinking, “How does this faith move on beyond this?” This is what we see for the disciples. I am challenged by some of the giants on whose shoulders we stand. And in Uganda one particular one who saw the state of the church and began to ask himself questions, at a time where the church was cold, at a time where the church was seemingly dead. He asked, “What is the cause of this coldness and deadness in the church?” He asks, “What can be done to reach the nominal Christians that were in the church here in Uganda?” And he asked, “What can be done to bring revival of missions in this nation of Uganda?” Simeon Nsibambi together with his brother Blasio Kigozi were right at the forefront of the East African revival. And they observed the state of the church. A church that was cold, a church that was dead. A church that as much as possible had become nominal. And the asked themselves, “What can we do? What can we do?”
Simeon Nsibambi had previously served in World War 1. He had served as a medical officer and went into India, went into Burma, and he was treating these patients. And comes back to Uganda, fresh from the army. And as he goes through the church in Namiremebe he goes to the different churches, he begins to observe a coldness. Everyone did as they wished. He talked to the bishop then and asked him, “Bishop, why is it that the people do not listen here? I have come from the army and the army order is order.” He began to ask himself, “What is exactly wrong?”
He gathers together, Simeon Nsibambi, he gathers together some of the church leaders. And he asks them, “Why is that in the church, everyone is doing as they will?” Not ordained, a medical officer, a medical officer together with Joe Church they began to pray. Another professional, they began to pray and ask, “God what cane you do to bring life back to the church.” They began to pray and they began to teach.
And what were they teaching? Teaching that sin is bad. What did they say? They kept saying saying, “Ekibi kibi ddala.” To mean that sin is bad and very bad. And we know very well that the East African Revival was, at the core of it, was the belief that sin was bad and people had to repent. And constantly they lived a life of repentance. And the Lord did his work. The Lord did his work through these professionals. The Lord did his work through these individuals right through Rwanda. He’s been called The Barefoot Evangelist because most of the time he walked bare feet. He saw the state of the church and responded that way.
Seeing to it that life was brought in through from Rwanda coming through Kabale right into Congo, into Uganda and into Kenya, this revival spread. And they asked themselves, “What is the cause of this deadness? What can be done to reach nominal Christians in this nation? And what can be done to bring revival of missions in this country?” They saw the church and they did ask. So I ask, what if the only Christians left in Uganda was you that is in this room. What if the only Christians in this nation left was you? What would you do? What would you do to bring life back to this church?
And so today, as we start I’m going to be answering three questions. Number one: why should every Christian engage in missions? Why should every Christian engage in missions? Number two: why should we, very particularly those in Africa, engage in missions. Number three: why should us now in Uganda engage in missions? Okay, question one will be why should every Christian engage in missions. Question two, why should we who are actually here in Africa engage in mission? And the third will be those that are in Uganda, why should we actually engage? So the question that I’m answering and asking is the why. Okay?
Why Every Christian Should Engage In Missions
So why should every Christian engage? Three motivations for every Christians, and just to lay the ground as we move on, why should every Christian? Number one, and you know this. Number one, and Matthew 28 the slide will be a little bit small. Matthew 28, it’s impossible to come to a missions gathering of this nature without talking about the great commission. Matthew 28:18-20. Why? Why should you and me? What is the framework? What is the basis of our engagement in missions?
One, because we are commanded. Matthew 28:18-20, the bible says, “All authority has been given. To me in heaven and in earth.” Jesus begins by making a statement. The statement is that all authority has been given to me. He goes on to give us a command. He says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” He gives them a command. And he begins with a conjunction where he’s challenging them and saying, “Therefore,” to link the statement and the command, therefore.
And clearly the main verb in here is go make disciples. Make disciples. It’s the command to go and make disciples. And what is the object? All nations, all nations. Three participles in it is go baptise and teach. Why should we as much as possible even gather and have this conversation? God has commanded us. He has commanded us to go. He has commanded us to go. And each of us knows that last words are lasting words. Last words are lasting words. And so Jesus commands us and he commands us to go. He commands us to go. Why should we engage in missions? Why should all Christians engage in missions?
The Needs Of The Nations
Number two, because of the needs of the nations. Because of the needs of the nations. Why should me and you even gather here? The nations are crying out. The nations are yearning. The nations are longing. Because of the needs of the nations we gather together. We gather together to engage in this conversation. Matthew 9:36-38 Jesus clearly proclaims. The bible tells us that when he saw, Jesus is with his disciples, and the bible tells us when he saw. What does Jesus see? Jesus sees physical needs. What does Jesus see? Jesus sees spiritual needs. Jesus sees these needs as he actually moves around. He sees.
When he saw the crowds, the bible says he had compassion. He had compassion. Jesus was moved by compassion when he saw society around him. When he saw the environment that was around him. And he saw because they were harassed and they were helpless and like sheep without a shepherd. He said to the disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” And he challenges them to make a prayer. He says, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers into the harvest field.” Friends, the need is big.
Why should me and you gather around our tables even now to have these conversations? The needs of the nations. And he has told us, make disciples of all nations. Because of the needs of the nations. He has said, “Make disciples of all nations.” Now as we think about all nations, you and me we know that the word for nation in here is the word, ethni, which stands for people group. Is the word ethni that stands for people of different ethnicities.
As you think about Uganda I want to ask you, okay Uganda is one, but how many tribes do we actually have in this nation? How many tribes do we have by show of hands. Okay i’m a teacher and sometimes I want to… By a show of hands .10, 20, 50, 54, 55. Okay it’s good we are guessing well. 55, 54. Now you’ll be surprised that by the constitution you’ll move on a little bit faster. Yes, Chris. According to the constitution, and i’m not a lawyer so I don’t know I will not tell you chapter or which section, I’ll leave that for the lawyers. But I actually went to it. It was just page 89 or 86 one of the two. I don’t know how lawyers got that. There are actually 56 tribes. There are 56 different tribes.
Now the letters are very small you may not be able to see them. But as you begin to see these tribes, the letters are very small, it’s the next slide. As you begin to see these you actually begin to see real needs. You begin to see real people. You begin to see a diversity as one nation that we alone could actually even begin to be surprised at. One particular one that I learned while I was away from Uganda was a tribe called the Menings. And it’s actually mentioned in the constitution right in here. Okay, the Kebu, right in here. Okay, the Nubi have always been a tribe right in here. And each of these much later I’ll be talking about some of these people groups. 56 of them, nations and tribes, that we have been called to make disciples of all nations.
The need to make disciples is so big, so big. And I quote Joshua Project, “3.2 billion souls live in unreached people groups. 42% of the world’s population.” 42% of the world lives in communities that as much as possible have been barely reached. And Joshua Project quotes 87% of these are Hindu they’re Muslim and they’re Buddhists, live in communities where they have no contact whatsoever with a Christian. In their phone number, they will look through there’s no Christian. On their Facebook, they’ll look through there’s no Christian. On whichever socials there is barely any Christian. The need is big. Disciples of all nations.
Four out of ten people on earth live in an unreached people group. And who is going there? It is you and me. it is Ugandans that are going there as students. It is Ugandan going there as workers. It is Ugandans that are going to some of these communities that have barely heard the gospel. So today we ask ourselves, “How do we transform this group into a mission force?”.
Four out of ten people on earth live in an unreached people group. And who is going there? It is you and me.
So number one, we’ve said why should all christians engage in missions? We are commanded. Number two, why? Because of the need in the nations. Number three, why? Why should me and you engage in missions? Because the lamb is worthy. Because the lamb is worthy.
Revelations 5:9-11 points us in that direction. Points us in the direction and clearly tells us of the worthiness of the lamb. And the bible says they sang a new song saying, “Worthy are you to take the book and to break its seal for you were slain and purchased for God with your blood. Men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” And John the Revelator writes and says, “Then I looked and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and living creatures and the elders. And the number of them with myriad of myriads and thousands of thousands saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessings.'”
Friends worthy is the lamb worthy is the lamb that was slain at the cross. The lamb is worthy of all worship. Worthy of all worship from people from every tongue, people from every tribe, people from every nation, and people from every generation. That they’ll gather around that table of dinner with every tribe, every people group represented here. That is our desire. And friends, God is calling me and you. When the flame of mission burns with the heat of Jesus’s truth, the light of missions will shine to the most remote peoples of the earth. When the flame of mission burns with the heat of Jesus’s true worth, the light of missions will shine even to the most remote groups of people.
So now we ask ourselves, “With the call that has been placed on us, with the call that has been placed on us, is it possible? Is it possible?” And I want us to think about this for a moment. “Is it possible to reach the whole world with the whole gospel?Is it possible to reach the whole world with the whole gospel?” Gordon, the founder of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary at one point said, “No we are not bringing the world to Jesus. We’re not expecting everyone in the world to come to Jesus. But we’re going with Christ and taking him to each of these people groups and see to it that they actually get to hear him.” Is it possible to reach the whole world with the whole gospel? Think about that for a moment. Is it possible? Yes, or no? Is that possible? Is it possible to take the gospel to the whole world if we have been commanded? If we see needs? And three, if the lamb is worthy? Is it possible?
Is it possible for Uganda to play its role in this task. Think about it, in 2000 years as of today and again I quote Joshua Project, there are 2.4 billion christians globally in 2000 years. 2.4 billion christians. Now think about it, Facebook began in February 2004. In 17 years as of today Facebook has over 2 billion subscribers. How did they do this? Think about it. Is it possible to reach the whole world? And probably you and me who’s here is actually somewhere somehow you’re on facebook. At least I know several of us. Somewhere somehow let me see those on Facebook? I should have asked those who are not. That could have been more appropriate. 17 years how did they get to two billion?
As I was reading this I thought of which word should everyone in the world know? Which word should everyone in the world hear? And I was very sure that probably somewhere somehow because people are very religious they should be knowing probably in the name of Jesus or some religious figure of sorts. Do you know the most spoken word in the whole world? Okay. The word okay has gone everywhere and everyone with the little they may know in english somewhere somehow they will say one word. They will all say what? Okay. And the second one actually surprised me. The second is Coca-Cola. Now put Coca-Cola in your mother tongue it remains what remains what? Coca-Cola. Is it possible to reach the whole world with the whole gospel?
And I like this, and probably i’ve shared this with some of you here. You know the vision of Coca-Cola, and someone has said again I borrowed this from Joshua Project, a can of coke in the hand of every person on the planet. And that’s their goal, that is the desire. To see to it that there’s a can of coke in the hand of everyone. That this has actually reached everyone. Again you continue to ask, is it possible for us to reach out? And what has Coca-Cola done? They’ve gone out. They have gone out to every tribe and translated. They have gone out and actually translated this into probably Chinese. Just to make sure that they reach the who? The Chinese. So there are bottles that have been branded in Chinese.
They have not stopped there. You will continue from here, Chris. They’ve not stopped there to actually do this among the Chinese only. But they have transported this drink bottled in a can, they’ve transported it on donkeys just to make sure that it reaches areas that have no roads, that have barely any access. And they have gone to them in their language, translated into the Arabic just to reach the who? The Arabs. They have transported this on water. They have moved on water where there’s no access, barely any access, they have actually moved on. They have transported this on carts just to make sure that people get a hold of this drink and actually drink it. They have not stopped there.
They have gone to some of those communities that we actually consider completely unreached. Chris you’ll move on a bit faster. Know, they’ve moved on to some of those communities that are completely unreached and right in the picture you see that Buddhists and right there they are with Coca-Cola besides them. Is it possible to take the gospel to the whole world? Is it possible to make Christ known to the whole world? How much more is the Lord if they can do this?Friends how much more is the Lord?
Why should we engage? One, we have been commanded. Two, the world is hungry the world is thirsty. Three, the lamb is worthy.
Why Africa Should Engage In Missions
Second question. Why? Why should Africa engage in missions? Why? Why should we? And again I’ll give three specific reasons for missions in Africa. Three specific reasons. Why? Why should me and you that is in Africa, that is in south America, that is in Asia, why should we even begin to have these conversations? Why is this a critical matter for us? Why? Three specific reasons, and this is in Africa.
Number one, Because the global south is rising as the centre of christianity. Different people have written on this. Phil Jenkins has documented this in the Christendom. You know documented this in 10 chapters telling us how much and possible the global south, and this we’re talking about Africa, we’re talking about Asia we’re talking of Latin America, increasingly is becoming the centre of christianity.
We’re beginning to see the influence, we’re beginning to see the church in Africa, the church in Asia beginning to actually take centre stage in regards to this gospel work. What do we realise? Chris, you’ll move on. Receiving nations, receiving nations are becoming sending nations. Receiving nations are becoming sending nations. And why is this a success? This is a success of the previous missionary activity. Why should we engage? The global south is now rising as a centre of christianity. Africa has experienced, and I’ll be showing us figures, Africa has experienced significant religious change over the last century. Africa has had a major turnaround.
Why should we engage? In 1910 when the Council of Edinburgh was meeting, the world council of evangelism was meeting, only 9% of Africa was Christian, only 9%. and 80% came from South Africa, Madagascar, Egypt, and Ethiopia. 80% came from four countries. Africa is how many countries? Again I’ll ask. This is a missions conference. How many countries are in Africa? Ask your neighbour how many countries are in Africa? It’s okay. Four of these countries contributed 80%. In 100 years this number increased to 48% of this continent.
I wanted to show these pictures. Chris if you could help me. There’s been a great shift. There’s been a major shift, a major shift that we see in missions. Now in 1800 just about the time that William Curry is going into India in 1790, just about that time, Europe and North Africa contributed 99% probably of the Christians in the world. And at that point Africa had only one%. By 1900, thank you, by 1900 as you can see Europe and North Africa were at 90% of the christians in the entire world. And where was Africa and latin America? 10% of the people, meaning out of every ten people you got, one was from either Africa or latin America. Friends times have changed by 2020 in operation world I quote 22% of Europe and north America is christian. And close to 78% of latin America, Africa and Asia is christian. When we look at this we ask ourselves, “What exactly is shifting?” We ask ourselves, the question is what exactly is shifting? What does this actually mean? What does this mean for you and me?
The Changing Face Of Christianity
The faces of christianity are actually changing. Today as you think about christians you’re thinking about people from Uganda. And the Anglican church in Uganda is one of the biggest communions globally. The Anglican church from Nigeria is one of the biggest across the world. The one in Kenya is way bigger than the one in Canada. What is happening? The faces of christians is now changing. Today when you see a christian it is someone from Uganda, it is someone from Nigeria, it is someone from brazil, it is someone from India, it is someone from china. The face of the body of Christ has changed. There’s a shift. What does this mean for us? What does this mean for us?
The face of the body of Christ has changed. There’s a shift. What does this mean for us?
Now here’s the challenge. Africa while we in one hand we are saying is growing the other church is actually the contribution to cross-cultural missionaries. Next slide and I wanted us to see. Today as we speak 36% of cross-cultural missionaries, 36% come from North America. 35% come from Asia, very specifically South Korea and china, 35%. And South Korea is really playing a very critical role in that. And even here in Uganda we’re playing a critical role in this mission endeavour. Europe is at 11%. South America 5%. Oceania 3%. Africa on one hand has the largest number of christians again they quote 631 million but contributes only 6%.
That is a total imbalance that you have one of the highest numbers of christians and yet in terms of contributing cross-cultural missionaries you have one of the least. What went wrong? Something is amiss somewhere. So while we are saying there’s a shift this shift here raises several questions. This shift here has several implications. What precisely is happening then because where there has been growth in the church there has been actually great movement in missions? What is precisely happening within the church?
So one, why should Africa engage in missions? Because the global South is rising and rising as a centre of christianity. Increasingly beginning to see the voices of africans being heard. Men such as Conrad Mbewe, faithful gospel preachers being heard across the globe, being heard across the globe. There are brothers and sisters from Nigeria and all the other places that are actually being heard and taking centre stage. Men like Bishop Sentamu being influential in the church in England. Africa is rising as a centre of christianity.
Why should Africa engage in missions? number two, because Africa has an opportunity to partner and learn from western initiatives. Africa has an opportunity, it has an opportunity to learn, to learn from western initiatives that have been of previous. why? why should we engage because we have an opportunity to now learn from the mistakes from the successes and see how we can re-innovate ourselves. and part of the conversation today is asking ourselves how do we re-innovate ourselves and say okay these were the mistakes these are the errors were done this was done, well how do we build on that? and so today one of the big conversations that we’re having is global professionals in missions how do we turn lay people, tent makers into a mission force? now there’s an assumption today there’s an assumption and many people have said this i’ve had it being said that north American missionaries know that that the role of North American missionaries is actually over and so what is happening the baton is being passed like from one continent to another continent. number two similar to this is the assumption that north America and Europe are actually now totally inefficient to participate in this mission agenda. let them only send money if they can send money, and the assumption is that once you send money as Africa here we shall hit it we shall go everywhere our problem is money.
And I want to say that it is not passing of the baton but it is actually cooperative equal partnership, cooperative equal partnership. And what is happening and we begin to see this in Uganda where there’s a lot of expertise training that is actually being offered that is coming through from the west in regards to how do we mobilise for mission? How do we see opportunities? How do we actually engage? That it is actually a partnership and what is the west doing? Providing this expertise and training and what are we offering this zeal the young people the manpower the cross-cultural nearness to some of these communities that have barely been reached.
As we speak the global south missions are still adolescence, are still in adolescence. 20 years ago here in Uganda there was no indigenous mission agency. No indigenous mission agency that is totally given to this cause. It was individuals that felt the call of god and ran to a particular community. They just felt the call of god and without being trained without being supported just went. It wasn’t long before they would burn out. What lessons can we learn? So it is actually an opportunity for Africa to consider partnership.
Why should we engage in missions? Number one, the global south is rising as a centre of christianity. Number two, Africa we have an opportunity to partner. Number three, why? Why should we engage in missions? Because of the challenge of nominalism. Because of the challenge of nominalism. And Rogers is going to guide us on speaking about this much later. But one of the underlying problems among christians in Africa is nominal christianity. And this has been characterised by two problems. One is dualism and I’ll explain later. The second one is syncretism.
Now in dualism there’s this whole belief that I am divided. That part of me, one part of my life is spiritual and another part of my life is secular. So I can do some things on spiritual days. There are some words I can speak that are actually spiritual and then there’s a part of my life that is just totally secular. So I can live a double standard life. I can live a double standard dual life. One foot in African tradition another foot in the gospel. i protect my house by putting a charm in there and i also go to church and pray to the same god. dualism. that actually comes very closely with syncretism. that I’m mixing tradition. most africans are christians but traditional beliefs and values permeate. that one is christian they would come to church, get baptised, but on their waist there’s yirizi. There’s yirizi. you go to the house of a congregant to visit and you find a charm and below it there’s a bible. Saying no it is single touch double impact. Just in case, just in case.
(34:20) Has actually written this and he used another tribe, probably next slide. And I want to read this very clearly. The challenge of nominalism. he says, “In the course of evangelisation not only was the African religion christianised, the christian teaching was also africanised.” In the process of evangelisation this African religion got a christian cover. It got a christian cover and it was brought to the church. But also christian teaching was taken and taken to the shrines and africanised. and what does this imply? It implies that even though christian teaching is exclusive the African tendency is to accept it as co-existing with traditional religion. Coexisting, you know we’d say it’s co-existing.
Why Uganda Should Engage In Missions
Okay so number one, we said why should we engage in the great commission? Number two, we said why should Africa engage? Number three, why? Why should Uganda? What is our motivation? Why? Why should we at this point in time as a nation engage in missions?
Again I’ll give three specific reasons and I’ll go a little bit faster. number one, why should me and you in this country engage in missions? number one is the nature of our population. the nature of our population. if you just did a Google search right now and searched for a population pyramid for Uganda one thing that is going to stick out you are going to realise that Uganda is primarily a young country. Uganda is predominantly a young country. If you were to get a picture of a Ugandan, average Ugandan it is actually a 15 year old. A 15 year old. Probably 15,16 year old. We’re talking of a child in senior three or senior four. Uganda is young. The population is extremely young. Why? Why should we? Because as much as possible this group here this group there’s a lot of opportunity for us to reach out to them and proclaim the gospel unto them. Most of us who are in this room probably got to know the Lord as Lord and Saviour in our childhood, below the age of 18.
Why should we engage Uganda? The population is predominantly young. Only 4.6% of this country is above 65 years. So by the time you hit 55, 60 you are really in the extinct group. You are, you know, very, very far. And who are the majority? It is young people. And where are they? They are in schools. Where are they? They are in our communities. Where are they? They are in sports betting. Where are they? They’re riding bikes. Where they? They are around us here. Why should we engage? These are young people that can be turned. Rather than being a problem there can be an opportunity. There can be that mission force that will offer that thrust.
Every 20 years, every 20 years, and i’ve studied this quite a bit, every 20 years the population of Uganda doubles. every 20 years. right now as we speak Uganda is about 46 million, okay. about 46 million people and this is according to the world bank. about 46 million people are actually in Uganda and there’s a point. by 2040 Uganda will be at about 74 million. now think about this, in exactly four elections, now you understand elections more, in exactly four elections from now, count the next election then the other one then the other one then the next one, you will be two times this number. So wherever you are put another person. Put another person. The population is actually growing exponentially.
In 1950 we were only 5.1 million. Do you know how many people in Kampala now? Greater Kampala? About 6.5 million. Greater Kampala, Wakiso, Mpigi, Mukono, 6.5 million. The people who are just in Kampala, Mukono, Mpigi, would have been the whole of Uganda in 1950 plus bonus. 2050 the population is projected to be at 89 million people. The population is growing, it is growing.
Why should we engage in missions in Uganda? One, because of the nature of our population. It is young and it is growing and growing exponentially. Number two why should Uganda engage in missions? The nature of religious affiliation. And i borrowed this from the 2014 population and housing census and i just kind of juxtaposed the different religious affiliations. and i use the word affiliations loosely to mean that some people just sign up without probably giving it thought. Okay if you can see and see clearly you will notice that christianity in 1991 was actually 85.4, 2002 85.2, dropped by 2%. and 2014 was 84.5, okay? The muslim, and i’d want to be keen on that, think about it 10.5%, 2002 12.1%, 2014 13.7%.
Now there’s a group called others and I’d want to tell you that probably this is one of the most threatening. This is one considered probably the most threatening, the others and the nuns. There are groups of people that have given of themselves selflessly, selflessly. One particular group right here in Kololo next to their strip mobilises professionals for whom families actually paid (40:19) that are right in here with their offices at Nakawa House as well, mobilise individual families that are sending out professionals that will wear black and white and move around in our communities. That group is growing significantly. that group is growing.
The others that are probably not even counted of these are individuals that are probably popping up by themselves that are actually silent. what does this imply for us? now we will glory and celebrate that we are majority christian nation but you and me know that this raises lots of questions of the authenticity. That if two out of every 10 Ugandans were non-christians and eight were christian, every Ugandan you meet on the street, on the road, at home, eight of them were christian would this nation be this way? No. You know that, you know that. so this alone raises lots of questions.
The Powerful Ugandan Church History
Why should Uganda engage in missions? One, the nature of the population. Two the nature of our religiosity our religious affiliations. Number three, why should Uganda engage in missions? The nature of Uganda’s church history. friends we stand on shoulders of giants. We stand on shoulders of men and women that give themselves selflessly. They set for me and you an example and that is the example that this generation ought to emulate. That is an example that me and you ought to emulate. I have said this before and I’ll repeat it. Thee history of christian missions in Uganda has been a cycle. It has been a cycle, a cycle that is repetitive. God has been at work in Uganda in three ways. number one, persecution. number two, he has been at work through revival. And number three, he has been at work even in moments of nominalism.
Now when does christianity come to Uganda? Two men set a sail, 1875 H.M. Stanley comes to Buganda and he’s very convincing. He speaks to the king and convinces him of the gospel. He writes a letter puts it in a frenchman’s boot and two months it reaches Mombasa and goes into the UK and it is published the 14th of November into this big newspaper. they urge, they call for missionaries to come to Uganda. Eight men sign up. They sign up when they hear the call, the need for missionaries in Uganda. Eight men: a carpenter, a soldier, a architect, and only one was probably a clergy set a sail and set a sail to come into Uganda. The leader of this group, before they actually came into Uganda told the committee that was before him, he told him, “Six months from now you are going to hear the news. you are going to hear the news that one of these eight men would have died.” And he says, “Immediately you hear the news that one of us has dropped dead, send reinforcement immediately.” And it wasn’t long before he had finished that statement that seven of the eight died less than two years less, than two years. Reverand C. T. Wilson, Shergold Smith, that actually were the pioneers died, we know very well, in the islands. In less than two years as christianity is coming these men paid the price and actually set a tone right here in Mengo. And they gathered around them and the king’s palace the pages, they gathered people who would barely read and they told them,”Okusooma“. They taught them how to read and one by one they discipled. one by one they reached out and one from one, from the pages to their families, they began to reach out.
Something that is extremely unique about Ugandan church history is that from Mengo, the hill of Mengo and Lubiri they actually launched out the mission force. A mission force that went into Busoga. Ugandans, a mission force that went into Ankole. Ugandans, a mission force that went to villages like Kiryandongo where I come from. A man 44:10 has been arrested as a slave and he comes into Buganda and he knows Acholi, he knows very well Nyoro and he knows a bit of English. He goes across to the Acholi and preaches. Swims across not far from the Karuma Falls. We stand on shoulders of these men.
1877 the gospel comes. It comes into this nation and that set a tone. it set a tone for this nation despite the fact that in 1896 the king wasn’t happy. The king wasn’t happy for this new faith because it was beginning to twist people’s thinking. This faith was beginning to alter people in their lifestyle and he begins to question them. And Kabaka Mwanga slaughters one after the other. And you and me know the stories of how young men such as Kizito 14 year old, his uncle is Mukaajanga the chief executioner is asking him, “Please can you give up your faith. Give up your faith I will help you.” and he tells him, “No i have decided that I’ll follow christ. i’ve decided.” and one by one they are killed in Munyonyo. they are killed in Owino market. They are killed in Mengo. They are killed in Namugongo. They laid their life down. in the midst of persecution God has been at work, god has been at work.
Even at a time in the 1880s, 1888 about that time where there was religious confusion among the Christians and the Muslims. And they were all contesting who takes over Uganda. Right at that point the lord was clearly at work when the church had become cold. Through men such as George Pilkington. and Pilkington begins to translate the bible he begins to learn the language and he begins to teach people. Goes into Masaka while he’s persecuted, he goes into these communities and he is teaching. We stand on their shoulders. He doesn’t stop in there. The church, we begin to see compromise coming in when the church is beginning to be divided by one group, The Society Of The One Almighty God. Katonda omu ayiina obuyiinza bwoona.
They were called the… What are safari boots called? They were coming in right here from Buganda and went and began to spread this gospel. By about 1920 there were over 20,000. Today The Society Of The Almighty god has no one. They believed that you didn’t need medicine. You got saved immediately you are baptised. They believe that you can get married to several people. But yet amidst that false religion that was coming through there were christians. Men such as Simeon Nsibambi, Joe Church, Blasio Kigozi set ablaze the East African revival. You can go back a little bit, that will help me.
Okay so about 1929 the East African Revival comes in. by this time here you know very well that uh the orthodox church had actually already come into Uganda but right in this period here the East African Revival sets ablaze. And it sets this nation ablaze. The gospel is proclaimed. We stand on the shoulders of these men. At a time where the church was beginning to go down, really go down and politics had actually begun to divide the church. The Roman Catholics belong to DP and the Anglicans belonged to U.P.C. the church is caught up in there, that is when we begin to see other evangelical denominations come.
1950 Glad Tidings missionaries from Canada come in here. about 1960 or so the baptists begin to actually move into this nation. about that period PAG begins to move into this nation.so on one hand the church is growing cold but on the other hand the Lord is clearly at work. 1971 one of the major highlights of christianity in this country was a persecution. nine years, nine years that were years of terror. years of terror when the church was forced to go underground, 28 christian denominations were suffocated. 28 christian denominations were closed but yet the church continued to thrive.
The church continued to thrive at a point where it was illegal to preach the gospel. and you hear of men such as Situka one particular fella who loved to preach. And he would go preach, preach, preach and preach with his drum, drum, drum, one, two three, and sees people gather, he preaches. And immediately soldiers are coming, picks up his drum, runs. One by one they actually stood and the church and the Idi Amin played a very critical role for men such as Janani Luwum, for men such as Bishop Sentamu. Played a very critical role. such as consider Festo Kivengere. Played a critical role in raising these men here. Festo Kivengere writes a book, ‘I Love Idi Amin’. And why is he writing it? Because the gospel has shaped his life yet in the midst of persecution. The lord continued to work. In the 80s we begin to see the rise of this whole pentecostal and charismatic movement that takes over from about the 1980s, ’86 and this spreads. And right now I think we live in a period where everything seems relative.
So three major points for this period that sticks out for Uganda for me. One, the murder of the Uganda martyrs and we’ve seen that. The second, the East African Revival. And the third is actually president Idi Amin. These three, and I could explain a little bit further, could actually have shaped the history of this nation. Friends, we stand on shoulders of these giants.
Common excuses to not get involved
Now what are the excuses having heard why you should be involved? Why every christian? Number two, why every African needs to? Number three, why every Ugandan needs to be involved in mission? There are three excuses that we normally give, three of them three of them. And these ones I have heard them, I’ve not done any empirical research but i’ve heard them. Number one, people would think we have finished reaching. We haven’t finished reaching our own village, we have not finished reaching our village, our village. We have not finished, so why would we I even think about Pakistan, China and all those other places? Why? Why would I? So I say my tribe my neighbours are not yet saved so I begin to go to others. Excuse one. Excuse two, we are very poor, we have no money. There is a belief and I put it wrongly, africans are only receivers. Three, which actually comes out of the prosperity gospel, is actually me and my money we are just two of us. So I cannot even think of supporting. I cannot think of being part.
So I ask a question, what is your excuse? And I want you to ask your neighbour, what is your excuse? And i’m sure this list can go on and on. And Ugandans we have stories, we have stories, we have stories after story. Excuse after excuse. Now what is yours? What is your story? Is it new? It is not new.
We have three options. Number one, to be like Jonah. When God called Jonah, God called Jonah to go to Nineveh. what does Jonah say? Jonah says, “God here I am but I am not going. Here I am. you want me to go where? Nineveh. I’m not going.” And there are Jonahs in here. Number two, those who are like Moses. Moses like Jonah says, “Here I am.” But he’s a bit kind he says, “You send my brother here I am but send my neighbour.” Moses felt insufficient, Moses felt unable, and yet the lord called him to go. The third, and my prayer is that at Engage this will happen. Friends my prayer is that right at this gathering someone shall be challenged. Someone’s heart shall be gripped and we shall see people from this country intentionally go out to the mission field.
Isaiah said, “Here I am Lord send me. Here I am Lord send me here I am Lord send me.” Aristotle Onassis a sailor that was christian said, “We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. we must learn to sail in high winds.” friends there’s not going to be a time that is convenient for us to engage in mission. There’s not going to be a time when the sea will rest. but what are we called to do? we must learn to sail in high winds. And one of the things that we are doing today is learning to sail in high winds as we think of global professionals that are going out to the mission field.
There’s not going to be a time that is convenient for us to engage in mission. There’s not going to be a time when the sea will rest
I asked the question as i was beginning, if you are the only christians who had remained in the world, you in this room were the only ones, what would you do? what would you do to see to it that the faith is propagated across the nations? what would you do to see to it that the faith goes everywhere? the lord has called every christian. number two, he has challenged every African. and number three he has challenged us particularly here in Uganda.
So one question if every church copied your mission approach, if every church copied your idea, the idea that you have, shall we be able to complete the great commission? If they copied your idea as it was how far would we go in fulfilling the great commission? I want you to think about that question.