Preaching the gospel

Daily Reading for February 19 • Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, and Martyr, 1977 (transferred)

Luwum was as concerned for the spiritual welfare of his people as he was for their physical well-being. As a leader whose own Christian experience had been shaped by the East African revival, he stressed the importance of a personal relationship with the Lord of the Scriptures for both his flock and his clergy. He frequently led evangelistic missions and preached throughout the diocese. . . .

Archbishop Luwum was criticized for maintaining an official relationship to the government because it seemed to give legitimacy to the murderous dictator. Luwum attended government functions in the hope of maintaining leverage with the regime. To his critics, Luwum replied, “I face daily being picked up by the soldiers. While the opportunity is there I preach the Gospel with all my might, and my conscience is clear before God that I have not sided with the present Government which is utterly self-seeking. I have been threatened many times. Whenever I have the opportunity, I have told the President the things the churches disapprove of.”

Luwum used his relatively strong influence on behalf of those who were being wrongfully arrested, detained without trial and killed. He often went personally to the office of the torture chamber known as the State Research Bureau to intercede for prisoners. Any accusations that Luwum had government sympathies were silenced for good in February 1977, when the archbishop’s courageous confrontation of Amin finally resulted in his death. . . .

In June 1977, more than twenty-five thousand Ugandans gathered in Kampala to celebrate the centennial of the first preaching of the Gospel in Uganda. Many of the participants had fallen away from their faith but had come back to Christ as a result of seeing the courage of Archbishop Luwum and other Christians in the face of persecution and death.

From Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children by Faith J. H. McDonnell and Grace Akallo (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Chosen Books, 2007).

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