By Joan Akello
After the hosts- Uganda Christian University choir warmed the congregation through African praise and dances, a fire spitting Nigerian preacher convinced hundreds to get Born Again just like the Uganda Martyrs. That was not all; he preached for a record one and half hours against tribalism and religious hypocrisy.
“When we wear our robes as Bishops, some of us behave holier than Jesus,” yet Rt.Rev. Timothy Yahaya says, “There are people playing religion in church but living in hell.”
Yahaya, also Bishop of Jalingo Diocese Nigeria, was preaching on the theme dubbed being faithful witnesses to the end to mark the Uganda Martyrs day at the Anglican side. “ The Gospel must cross tribal barriers, languages .
Stop preaching the Gospel basing ion tribes , divisions and culture because,” Rt. Rev. Timothy Yahaya said, “ even the nation of Uganda has to hear this-the Word of God should be for all.”
Yahaya said, according to internet searches, the Ugandan martyrs were persecuted because they refused to participate in traditional sacrifice and some were against Kabaka Mwanga’s homosexual practices.
“These young man travelled on foot for days , the mistreatment, humiliation, the fear of death ,and the shrine of traditional religion was enough to change their minds but they decided to die on conviction on what they believed,” he said.
He likened the circumstances under which the martyrs were killed to present day Nigeria where Christians cannot enter church with bags nor park cars on church compounds.
The church can be bombed with believers in what he calls a world where Satanism and anti –Christ are persecuting the church.
“In Northern Nigeria today, some of our people have been maimed, some have lost their legs but that has not killed the spirit of the Gospel,” Yahaya added, the more they kill us the more we worship Christ.”
The Prime Minister, John Patrick Amama Mbabazi representing government assured Yahaya Nigeria will overcome since Uganda had experienced the same turmoil before.
Uganda is stable and though there are challenges, its stability will not be shaken,” Amama said.
UCU vice chancellor, Rt. Rev. Canon Dr. John Senyonyi said the university spent between Shs 200 to Shs 300million on the Namugongo preparations such as minimal renovations and improvements to preserve the historical site for posterity which he said is ‘ordinarily the prerogative of government to giuve it a national status’.
He added that UCU has facilitated the writing of a new Liturgy for the church of Uganda as one oth activities to mark the centenary celebrations of UCU whose history is interlinked with Bishop Tucker College that was founded in 1913.
James Ogoola the Chief guest said ‘the blood of the martyrs is but the watering of the church, therefore it should remember all the martyrs including Janani Luwum, the third Archbishop of the Church of Uganda and Bishop James Hannington who was killed in Busoga.
“Lest we forget , Bishop Hannington was the first Bishop of Equatorial Africa( todays Easst and Central Africa) …he was murdered literally on the eve of the slaughter of the Namugongo martyrs whom we celebrate here.”
Ogoola says Bukedi Diocese is spearheading the Hannington Theological College to teach lay readers and priests in memory of the Bishop.
“I want to challenge the Uganda Christian University (successor to Bishop Theological College) and the entire Church of the Province, to remember and honour Bishop James Hannington, the pioneer pillar of the Church of Uganda…came before Bishop Tucker; in whose martyred footsteps Bishop Tucker walked; indeed whose body Bishop Tucker exhumed from Mumias in Kenya for final burial at Namirembe Cathedral in Kampala, Uganda.
Yahaya charged the clergy in Uganda to build more churches, but also ensure they do not act like the Western world that ‘ planted churches and handed them over to auditors, administrators, and undertakers’.