Morning by Morning

"The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward." Isaiah 50:4-5

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You Can’t Step Into the Same River Twice

Clergy Conference: Diocese of Kinkiizi

The Church in Uganda is a third generation church living in the afterglow of the East African Revival.  The Revival started in the 1930s on the hill in front of Namirembe Cathedral with two people who committed themselves to prayer.  One of the two went to Rwanda where the Revival began to spread rapidly entering Uganda through the Diocese of Kinkiizi and spreading throughout the country.  Today in Kinkiizi some of the grandparents of the current priests and lay leaders were directly affected by the revival.  The parents of our priests and leaders lived with the active memories and stories of that time; but there was another important event that marks the present church from that time, and that event was the history of the martyrdom of Christians in Uganda.

The history of the Ugandan Church began with the martyrdom of Bishop Hannington in 1885, and the subsequent martyrdom of 22 Christians.  From Universalis, a Roman Catholic Website providing the Liturgy of the Day Hours, we find the following description: “Many Christians, Catholic and Protestant, were killed by the Ugandan king Mwanga. Some of them were servants in the king’s palace or even his personal attendants. Charles Lwanga and his twenty-one companions (the youngest, Kitizo, was only 13) were executed for being Christians, for rebuking the king for his debauchery and for murdering an Anglican missionary, for “praying from a book”, and for refusing to allow themselves to be ritually sodomised by the king. They died between 1885 and 1887. Most of them were burned alive in a group after being tortured.”  In the second century the theologian Tertullian remarked that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”  During the reign of Idi Amin, there was another wave of martyrdoms and the Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum, was martyred in 1977 by Idi Amin's henchmen.

The present generation of Ugandan Christians live with both the stories of the East African Revival and the stories of the martyrs.  Their faith is intensely personal and enthusiastic with many evidences of the power of God and direct experiences of the presence and anointing of the Holy Spirit, but some of the marks of Charismatic revival as it has been experienced in the American Church in the 1970s are not currently part of the experience of Ugandan Christians. There is a tendency among American Christians to attempt to revive old revivals, but you can’t step into the same river twice, nor should you try.  Instead of attempting to relive the past we should be asking, “Where does the Holy Spirit want to lead us today?”

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