Uganda Martyrs Day 2024: Archbishop Ndukuba Decries Persecution of Christians, Urges the People to Remain in Christ

  • Korede Akintunde
  • June 4, 2024

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, The Most Rev’d Dr Henry Ndukuba has celebrated the faith demonstrated by the Uganda Martyrs, which according to him has turned out to be a great foundation of faith for the Ugandans and world at large.

Drawing his sermon from Romans 12: 1, at the Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations held at the Namugongo Anglican Site on June 3rd, 2024, asked Christians to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, especially after celebrating the faith displayed by the Uganda Martyrs, which he believes has proven to be a strong foundation of faith for everyone.

Archbishop Henry thanked God for the 45 Uganda Martyrs from both Anglicans (23) and Catholics (22) and the opportunity for the Church of Nigeria to take part in this year’s Martyrs Day celebrations. He asked Christians to emulate the martyrs because they did not forsake their faith even in the face of death.

“The Church in Uganda is because of God’s holy word and also on the sacrifices of those who were killed for their faith in God. I have been shocked by the many people who have travelled long distances to come here and worship God” he said.

He equated the Uganda Martyrs to the Biblical believers Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3:8-30 who chose to be thrown in the Lake of Fire rather than denounce God.

“If you want to do all while disobeying your spirit, it means you’re walking to this place for nothing. It does not count well; to walk all the distances and in the end, you miss heaven” he said.

The Primate noted that the reward of sin is death, and that same God of yesterday is same of today. The sin of homosexuality is the one that led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The same God has never changed, it is the same God.

Primate Ndukuba added: “I am happy that the Church of Uganda is leading the way in fighting the dubious acts against our faith and the Church. A man cannot marry a fellow man, God doesn’t want that. True righteousness is only in God”.

He reiterated that God’s Church remains strong, and many people are all over serving God with commitment despite veiled attacks.

Ndukuba compared the persecution of Christian all over the place noting that the Church in Nigeria was not left out with the burning of Churches, schools and seminaries not to talk of many Christians being killed on daily basis because of their faith highlighting an incident when he was attacked a few days after his wedding in Kano State of Nigeria.

“The prelate emphasized that life is not in material things, but in the name of Jesus Christ. We shall go back with nothing. I want to inform the pilgrims here that the Martyrs lacked nothing, but they chose to give their lives to Christ. When you have Jesus Christ, you have everything, Your life does not depend on the possessions you have; all possessions will eventually leave you, and vice versa ” he added.

The Primate thanked President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda for allowing Ugandan Christians and people of other faiths to practice their beliefs in a peaceful atmosphere. Today, we have gathered here to celebrate the 23 Anglicans and 22 Catholics who were martyred.

We are here on the invitation of our brother and friend, Dr. Kazimba. We are grateful for the second visit since we were last here in March 2020 for ministry before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, The Most Rev’d Dr Stephen Kazimba invited Archbishop Ndukuba as the guest preacher at the Anglican site as the Church marks the 2024 Martyrs Day.

Meanwhile, thousands of pilgrims were stranded at the different entrance points to the martyr’s site in Namugongo, Wakiso District as thousands of Christian faithful thronged both the Anglican site and that of the Catholic to celebrate the annual Uganda Martyrs Day. Security men were seen blocking some entrance due to an overwhelming number of pilgrims.

The organizers earlier told reporters that they were expecting over two million pilgrims at this year’s event.

President Museveni who is the Chief Guest at the Catholic site arrived at about 9:50 am with the First Lady Janet Museveni.

Speaker of Parliament, Anitah Among who’s representing Mr. Museveni at the Anglican site arrived a few minutes past 9 am.

Other notable government officials at Namugongo Martyrs site include Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa, Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Norbert Mao who doubles as the Democratic Party president, Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (Industry) David Bahat, State Minister for Primary Healthcare Margaret Muhanga and Minister for Higher Education, John Chrysostom Muyingo, among others.

The first reading was presented by 13-year-old Jonathan Goodluck, a primary 6 student, taken from the book of 1 Kings 19:9-18.

The second reading is taken from the New Testament in Paul’s Letter to the Romans 12:1-8, and it is being read by the Right Reverend Kosea Odongo, Bishop of Soroti Diocese.

The host Archbishop Stephen Kazimba while addressing the pilgrims at the event noted that now that we have the crowd of witnesses around us, let us put off all the weight and everything that is entangling us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the perfecter of our faith. As we gather to commemorate the lives of the martyrs, we remember the sacrifices made by those who stood firm in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

He welcomed all to the wonderful celebration of our faith. “We thank God for all pilgrims who have walked from near and far. These are prayer walks of faith and commitment to Christ, our Savior. If these walks result in transformed lives, then your walk is not in vain. May your prayers and petitions be fully answered.”

He appreciated the government of Uganda through His Excellency the President of Uganda for their contributions towards church programs and projects.  “Your contribution towards this day and building of this Namugongo Museum as religious tourist site. Thank you is not enough. We invite more partnerships on religious tourism.”

Archbishop Kazimba noted that the Church has many sites of interest to this world like Bishop Hannington where the bishop was killed. It needs more development, Mucwini where Archbishop Janan Luwum was buried after being killed by Idi Amin. We appreciate His Excellency the President of Uganda for his pledge to support these sites in order to develop more religious tourist sites, he added.

Speaker of the Parliament Anita Annet Among who represented the President while speaking noted that this year’s theme echoes the current situation in Uganda, where traditional Christian beliefs, norms, and family values are under threat. Those who stand for the truth are threatened, criticized, opposed, misunderstood, and sanctioned. They are even accused or rejected, but I want to tell Ugandans that we will stand for the truth.

On June 3rd of every year, Uganda commemorates Martyrs’ Day at Namugongo Site

In his efforts to curb Christian influence and try to regain the traditional, customary powers and authorities over his subjects, the then King of Buganda, Kabaka Mwanga II ordered for the killing of Anglican and Catholic converts to Christianity between 31 January 1885 and 27 January 1887.

Mwanga precipitated a showdown, ordering the converts to choose between their new faith, and complete obedience to his orders. Those unwilling to renounce their new faith would be subject to death.

Rather than deter the growth of Christianity, the martyrdom of these early believers seems to have sparked its growth instead. As has been observed in many other instances, the determination of the martyrs proved to be the seed of faith.

Read More about the List of Uganda’s Christian Martyrs and how each was killed

Every year, June 3rd, when most of the martyrs were killed, is marked as a national holiday in Uganda. It is also marked worldwide on the church calendar as a day to honor the Martyrs.

Put together by Korede Akintunde

CoN Communication Officer.

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