I greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
135 years ago, 25 youth serving in the Kabaka’s palace were forced to make a choice no one should have to make, let alone a child. They were forced to either renounce their faith in Jesus Christ or be killed.
Even though they were killed, their decision was to choose Christ and, therefore, they chose life! Life in its fullness comes only through Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10.10)
An early African Christian teacher from the 2nd century AD called Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” The Kabaka thought he could stop the spread of Christianity by killing these youthful converts who refused to renounce their faith. The opposite, in fact, happened. Their willingness to die for their faith fueled the spread of the Gospel as others realized that it was actually a faith worth living for.
Those youth knew what many have failed to know, which is that “Life in its fullness” comes only by trusting completely in Jesus Christ to make me right before God and to make my life right.
Many people today are sacrificing chickens, going under water, and paying a lot of money to try to make their life right before God. Those activities are all empty; they are lies trying to steal, kill, and destroy you. Only trusting Jesus Christ completely and fully will make your life right and will give you “Life in its Fullness.”
The martyrs we remember every 3rd June knew that. How about you?
This year’s Martyrs Day celebration will be held from 9 – 11 a.m. in Namugongo, but will be scientific. We will be carefully following the government’s guidelines for gathering. His Excellency, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, will be the Chief Guest. 200 VIPs have been invited, including all the bishops and their wives, government leaders, and staff from Namirembe Diocese, the Uganda Martyrs Seminary, and the Provincial Secretariat.
All others are encouraged to follow on local TV stations and the Church of Uganda’s YouTube Channel, all of which will be broadcasting live.
There will be three choirs present to unite our voices with our Martyrs, who are already gathered around the throne of God praising him. AYF will be present, along with the Seeta Archdeaconry Choir, and the Namugongo Parish Church choir. The Rt. Rev. Wilberforce Luwalira, Bishop of Namirembe Diocese, will be the preacher on the theme, “Life in its Fullness.”
In case you haven’t visited Namugongo in the last few years, I urge you to visit any time at your convenience. You will notice a lot of improvements. I want to encourage fellow pilgrims to always go there with your children. It’s a very important historical place. There is a lot to see and experience – the Spring Well, the Museum Core Site, and other areas within the complex. It’s a great family outing. Our children need to know that it was youth – their age mates – who paved the way for the Gospel to take root in Uganda and to flourish.
As the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, I am a guardian of this faith, and I am the guardian of this community of the faithful known as the Church of Uganda. Today, I want to ask you to do three other things:
1. Covid is, once again, on the rise in Uganda. It is very real. We have lost loved ones, leaders, elders, and now youth to this strange disease. We offer our condolences to the grieving families and communities. Please follow the SOPs – wear a mask over your nose and mouth, keep socially distanced, and always wash your hands with soap or sanitizer.
2. Secondly, please get immunized. I have gotten both jabs of the Covid vaccine and there’s no problem. Our Bishops have met with two of the Oxford University scientists who developed the AstraZeneca vaccine being used in Uganda. We are assured that it is very safe. It is much safer than not getting vaccinated. So, please get immunized for your own health and the public health of Uganda.
3. Third, this year we are marking 60 years of being a self-governing church. We are also looking forward to finally achieving self-sustainability as a church. Our first project is to pay off the bank loans we took to construct Church House.
The rapid spread of the Gospel began with our Martyrs. We can continue their legacy when we are able to generate local resources for mission. That’s the purpose of Church House. But, we can’t realize the vision of raising local resources until the loans are paid off.
We are asking 1,000,000 Ugandans to contribute at least 60,000/- by the end of July as a Love Gift to the Lord in thanksgiving for 60 Years of Self-Governance. “Ebenezer – This far the Lord has brought us.”
A special “Love Gift” account has been opened to receive your contribution. 60,000/- for 60 Years! It’s possible. Our theme for this fundraising campaign is “Yes, We Can!” Yes, we can raise 60,000/- from one million people. We will be officially launching this fundraising campaign on Sunday, 6th June, at All Saints’ Cathedral, Kampala. Information on ways to give to the Church House Love Gift account are posted on the Church of Uganda’s website at www.churchofuganda.org.
Mama Margaret and I send our greetings to all Ugandans and urge you to never forget the sacrifice of our Martyrs. Talk about them at home with your children and at work with your colleagues. “The blood of our martyrs is the seed of our church.”
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” The blessings of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rest upon you all.
Yours, in Christ,
The Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba
ARCHBISHOP OF CHURCH OF UGANDA.