The Ugandan church grew fast since November 1878, when Alexander M. Mackay—a Scotchman— first set foot on the shores of Lake Victoria. Bearing the glad tidings, Mackay and his partners faced sickness from stinging mosquitos and had no rest from aggressive white and black ants.
Language barriers notwithstanding, Mackay, a machinery man, used work to reach the inhabitants of the Buganda kingdom with the gospel. But his condemnation of the rampant Arab slave trade and failure to play the politics of the land saw him—and his Christian converts— persecuted.
Yet, the church grew from 1 to 3,000 members in 13 years after Mackay’s arrival, even spreading beyond Buganda. Today, over 80% of Ugandans self-identify as Christians.
Six Ways to Pray for the Ugandan Church
As Ugandan Christians, we thank God for this growth and all the labor and sweat behind the gospel’s spread in our land. But the challenging journey continues, and the Ugandan church must build on the past gains while facing the current obstacles to the gospel message. As the Lord leads you to pray for us, I suggest six ways, symbolized by the acronym: UGANDA.
Please pray for the Ugandan church to understand the times and have gospel clarity. Pray for the arming of pastors and church leaders, asking that they might develop necessary networks for the gospel. And then, pray for discipleship efforts to flourish and for authentic, gospel-shaped lives to blossom.
Understanding the Times
Times have changed since Mackay’s days. With the rapid technological advances and the internet, Uganda is moving fast from the premodern era to postmodernity.
The speed of information has made it increasingly difficult for confessing Christians to understand and answer difficult cultural questions before new ones emerge.
As a result, many local churches lose the opportunity to share the gospel meaningfully. Would you pray for leaders and all Christians to discern the times and wisely share the gospel with skeptics and seekers?
There is a great need for gospel clarity. Our pews are filled with many people who do not understand the gospel.
Networks like TBN provide a platform for American prosperity preachers to shape the beliefs of many confessing Christians in Africa. These unsuspecting seekers find themselves feeding on the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel. Given the high poverty and unemployment levels, it’s clear why these empty promises appeal to many in Uganda.
Many local churches do not know how to preach the biblical text with faithfulness and relevance.
The lack of expository preachers in the country leads to a great problem. Many local churches do not know how to preach the biblical text with faithfulness and relevance. Without gospel clarity, syncretism is a real threat as members are baptized but retain many of their traditional African religious beliefs. Pray for gospel clarity and gospel-shaped convictions. Pray that we would identify and address cultural idols and that churchgoers would hunger for God’s Word genuinely.
Arming of Pastors and Leaders
Gospel clarity begins in the pulpit and flows through the pews to the pedestrian. For this to happen, pastors and leaders must be theologically trained and resourced. Some estimate that up to 90% of Ugandan pastors have no formal theological training. Many do not know what the gospel is and some have never read through the Bible.
Some estimate that up to 90% of Ugandan pastors have no formal theological training.
How are these pastors to provide gospel clarity to their church members? How long can these men be our shepherds in these rapidly changing times? Please pray for theological training endeavors in Uganda. Pray for pastors to be prepared. As you pray, consider giving time, finances, materials, and skills to the organizations working hard to resource the Ugandan church.
Networks for the Gospel
Jesus’ insistence that “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37) rings true in Uganda. His command to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (v. 38 is for us too. One way of increasing effectiveness is creating synergy as servants of the gospel in Uganda.
Infighting has robbed us of the opportunity to advance the gospel. Still, there are hopeful signs that the younger generation of gospel servants is seeking to establish healthy gospel networks. Please pray for these grassroots efforts. Pray for beneficial interdependent, international partnerships as beautiful expressions of the catholicity and care of Christ’s body.
In Uganda, there is a great need to increase biblical literacy in our churches. We need to raise a generation of believers with functional knowledge of the Scriptural story and its relevance for today. Accomplishing this requires moving beyond the pulpit to other discipleship avenues. While such efforts are already happening to a lesser degree, the need for discipleship is great.
The Ugandan church needs biblically sound older men and women who can disciple and mentor the younger ones, particularly given that Uganda’s median age is under 16. We are an orphaned generation needing spiritual and relational guidance.
We are an orphaned generation needing spiritual and relational guidance.
Our churches need more small groups where texts are handled well and applied to life to supplement Sunday efforts. Pray for more biblically formed Christians in the marketplace. Uganda needs believers who see business as a mission and can reach and disciple those tempted to get their hearts dirty in the tough trenches of job creation and employment.
Authentic Gospel-Shaped Lives
Pray for all the above efforts to result in lives and convictions shaped by the gospel. Pray for confessing Christian men to faithfully lead their homes and pastor the local churches where the Lord has placed them. Specifically, pray for the person in the pew to live out the gospel during the week.
Our churches are full of corrupt officials and individuals who claim Christ’s name but defame it without flinching. The people raising their hands in surrender on Sunday will easily slide them into their pockets on Monday to bring out a bribe. Pray for confessing Christians to practice their faith publicly.