We could sort out every last person on this planet. We could show them that their self-declared autonomy from God has, and continues, to wreck this world on so many levels. But then we’d still have Burma and we’d still have China – we’d still have an earth revolting in the pains of childbirth. We need a Gospel that both puts an end to autonomy and liberates a broken world. We need God’s story of redemption. A story of creation redeemed. And that story must change how we live now. The creation is waiting for God’s work in us.
Archive for the 'Suffering' Category
I gave a presentation on the church history of Uganda today which I’ve been researching for the past few weeks. The story of the European missionary push and their converts in the 19th century contains some of the most powerful accounts of martyrdom ever recorded. Here’s and extract from a book that plays out the account of probably the most tragic and yet amazing three martyrs from the late 19th century in Uganda. It involves three young boys who worked in King Mwanga’s court and had rejected homosexual approaches that he had made upon them on the basis of their faith in Christ – the eldest was 16 and the youngest only 12 – these are the events that followed:
‘The head executioner was Mujasi, a Mohammedan. “Do you admit being followers of Jesus Christ?” asked Mujasi fiercely. The two younger boys nodded assent, but Seruwanga’s boldly answered, “Yes, and I am not ashamed of it.” “You believe you will rise from the dead!” shouted Mujasi. “I shall burn you and see if this is so!” A hideous roar of laughter came from the mob. As Seruwanga’s arms were cut off and his bleeding body was cast into the fire, no sound came from his lips, save words of testimony and prayer. Yusufu was next mutilated and consigned to the flames.
Then took place the saddest scene of all. As the executioner approached the twelve-year-old Lugalama, the boy cried out: ‘Please do not cut off my arms. I will not struggle! Only throw me into the fire!” Surely this is one of the saddest prayers ever uttered on this sad earth – “Only throw me into the fire!” The butchers did their ghastly work and the bleeding, tortured boy was committed to the flames.’ – “Road Maker for Christ in Uganda“, E.M. Harrison 1949
The history of the gospel in East Africa is a history that is covered in blood, blood spilled by the thousands of martyrs who have died for the sake of Christ in this eastern part of the continent. At the outset of the 19th century missionary push into the region one of the most famous missionaries to East Africa, Johann Krapf wrote these powerful words after the death of his wife in 1844:
‘Tell our friends at home that there is now on the Eastern African coast a lonely missionary grave. This is a sign that you have commenced the struggle…As the victories of the church are gained by stepping over the graves of her members, you may be convinced that the hour is at hand when you are summoned to the conversion of Africa from its eastern shore.’