Republic of Uganda
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By African standards the nation of Uganda is relatively small, comprising an area of 236,000 sq km (91,000 miles). The Equator passes through the southern half of Uganda and Lake Victoria. Over half of the Lake is claimed by Uganda which makes up the south east corner of Uganda’s territory. Otherwise, the east African nation is landlocked on all sides beginning with Sudan to the north, Kenya to the east, Tanzania and Rwanda to the south and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) to the west. Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest body of water. A number of other lakes and marshlands are found throughout the country; this lake system is the source of the Nile River. Uganda has historically been known as the “Pearl of Africa.”
It was from the Nile River valley that Uganda’s earliest population came; the Nilotic and Nilo-Hamitic peoples occupied the area from the 10th through the 13th centuries. European and Arab traders began visiting the area in 1844. Fifty years later the British established a protectorate over Uganda. British control lasted until 1962 when independence came to the United Kingdom of Uganda, a federation of the previously locally autonomous kingdoms of Buganda, Busoga, Butoro, and Bunyoro. The decades after independence saw civil war, military coups, atrocities and massacres. By 1986 an estimated half a million of Uganda’s inhabitants had been murdered, most during the ten-year dictatorship of Idi Amin. Yoweri Museveni came to power in 1986 and again in 1994 and has led his country on a path toward democracy. Presently the Republic of approximately 24 million people is governed by a single legislative body known as the National Assembly.
Because of the abundance of water Uganda has been agriculturally prosperous. More than 85% of the country’s economy is based on agriculture. This includes freshwater fishing, cotton, tobacco, coffee, tea, sugarcane, millet and so forth. Natural resources include copper and hydroelectricity.
Uganda presents a mix of religious practices. Christianity was introduced by Anglican missionaries in 1875 while the Roman Catholic White Fathers arrived three years later. Persecutions and martyrdom broke out in 1885 that served as a catalyst to the spread of the Christian faith throughout Uganda. The Roman Catholic Church claims 33% of the population; Protestant traditions claim 33% of the population; the remaining third is divided almost evenly between indigenous beliefs and Islam.
Work in Uganda by the Stone-Campbell Movement was initiated in 1969 by Kenyan missionaries and the World Bible School of the American a cappella Churches of Christ. However, these early attempts to develop mission teams were hampered by the turbulent political situation. World Bible School correspondence courses were helpful in spreading the Gospel in years in which missionaries where driven out. Despite the political difficulties Mac Lynn was able to report in his 1990 census of Churches of Christ that there were 26 congregations with 300 members scattered around a dozen of Uganda’s districts. About the time that Yoweri Museveni was returned to power in 1994 an American team made up of John Barton, Mark Moore, Brent Abney, Greg Taylor, Deron Smith and Robert Chambers began a work in the city of Jinja where a congregation had been formed in 1990. This team found that the Book of Mark with its questions of power and authority in the spiritual realm was an effective tool in conveying the Gospel. The six-family team working in the Jinja area had the goal of planting indigenous Christ-centered congregations that would develop into self-sustaining churches. Lloyd Deal of Campaigns for Christ led an evangelistic campaign in Jinja in 1999.
Jinja is a part of the Busoga Region, located at the base of Lake Victoria on the south, Lake Kyoga to the north and the Nile River running along the region on the western edge. The Busoga Churches of Christ number nearly 70 churches in the five districts of Busoga with more congregations being planted by local Christians. These congregations carry out a significant amount of ministry including youth clubs, AIDS work, care for orphans, printing and resource centers, education from nursery through secondary schools, leadership training at the Busoga Bible School and so forth.
A 1995 team comprised of Dr. Leon Blue, Drs. Kim and Greg Witkop, Mark Berryman, Jamison Fee, Jackie Rozell, April Long, and Wayne Kellar conducted much needed medical ministry in Uganda. Several other American missionaries have also worked in Uganda under several American sponsoring congregations from Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio and Texas. For current information about the a cappella Churches of Christ see the contact information listed below. Current estimates of the number of Churches of Christ in Uganda vary but conservative estimates place the number at over 100. On a humorous note Mike and Judy Shero, American missionaries in Mbale, Uganda reported to the February 2005 issue of the Christian Chronicle that the youth of the Mbale Church recently presented a Christmas Day drama about the birth of Jesus. The production, attended by about 250, was completely in the hands of the youth, including the building of the sets, costumes and performance. With no manger to be had the baby Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a suitcase!
The a cappella Churches of Christ in Great Britain, through the Weston Favell congregation, have supported a Ugandan evangelist by the name of Patrick Byakagaba, a Ugandan graduate of the British Bible School. In addition to preaching, teaching and encouraging a “faith in Action” group of Christian students Patrick Byakagaba also runs a Christian secondary school, built with gifts from Christians in the UK and USA. For more information contact Graham Fisher of the Christian Worker via email at Gafisher888@aol.com or via postal mail at: ‘The Sty’ 64 Grenville Road, Southcort, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP21 8EZ Great Britain.
Deaf Ministries International, begun by Neville and Lill Muir of Australia in 1979, operates in nearly a dozen countries through Asia and Africa. In the late 1990s a piece of property and a home was purchased in Kampala, Uganda to serve as a center for Deaf outreach for all of East Africa as well serve as an office, guest house, fellowship center and Bible School for the Christian Deaf community of Uganda. August 2-6, 2005 Deaf Ministries International is slated to hold their Third International Conference on the Kampala campus. According to Neville Muir the growth of the work in Uganda is staggering.
Reggie Thomas of the American Christian Churches and Churches of Christ mission organization White Fields Overseas Evangelism, reports that Christian Churches and Churches of Christ also have work in Uganda but no further information is currently available. Dr. Susan Higgins, Professor at Milligan College in east Tennessee and a member of the Stone-Campbell Movement worked in translation projects in Uganda in the early 1970s for the United Bible Societies, an inter-denominational ministry.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.
Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1101 19th Avenue, South, Nashville, TN 37212-2112 (USA)
Telephone: (615) 327-1444
Website: http://www.discipleshistory.org (provides links to other historical sites and databases).
Online catalog: ALEX
Busoga Churches of Christ
P.O. Box 1226, Jinja, Uganda
Telephone: 011 256 77 587761 or 011 256 43 120911
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Busoga Bible School (See Busoga Churches of Christ, above)
Mukago Newsletter (See Busoga Churches of Christ, above)class="Title2">F. International Ministries