What is Martyrs’ Day in Uganda?

In the country of Uganda, June 3 is celebrated as Martyrs’ Day. You may not have heard of this day, but it will help you pray for the church in Uganda, and for the persecuted church around the world. 

What is Martyrs’ Day in Uganda? 

At Namugongo, just outside of Kampala, stands a memorial to the Ugandan martyrs. There, on June 3, 1886, the king of Buganda put to death 26 young men who had angered him by their Christian commitment. Some were cut to pieces, others were burned alive; all refused to renounce their faith in Christ.

The church in Uganda at the time was very small. The gospel had come there a decade earlier, when missionaries were sent from England at the invitation of the prior king. But the martyrdoms in Namugongo became a turning point. The example of these martyrs, who walked to their deaths singing hymns and praying for their enemies, so inspired many of the bystanders that they began to seek instruction from the remaining Christians. Within a few years the original handful of converts had multiplied many times and spread far beyond the court.

What is the church like in Uganda today? 

Today Uganda has a higher percentage of Christians than any other African country. The Anglican Church of Uganda, Words of Hope’s partner in ministry, alone has more than 10 million members. And every year on June 3 hundreds of thousands of Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, walk to Namugongo from all over East Africa to honor the martyrs whose blood was the seed of the church.

Though Christianity is widespread in Uganda, poverty and lack of education make it nearly impossible for churches to adequately disciple those who are coming to know Jesus. Words of Hope’s Ugandan Director explains that while many are born into the faith, they often starve spiritually because no support structure is in place for their growth. 

What is Words of Hope doing in Uganda?

Words of Hope Uganda shares the gospel and supports discipleship in three ways

  1. They produce radio broadcasts in local languages throughout the country. These messages share the life-changing good news about Jesus Christ, and provide discipleship messages to help all believers grow in their faith. 
  2. Ministry workers follow up with listeners by connecting them to churches and local listener groups. 
  3. The Words of Hope devotional encourages believers to read the Bible and apply it to their lives. 

This holistic approach meets listeners where they are, and helps them achieve maturity as believers. What can I do?

  1. Pray for the country of Uganda, especially as people there honor the Ugandan martyrs today. Pray for Words of Hope workers, who will be sharing outreach messages, and encouraging people to grow in their faith today. 
  2. Sign up to receive Words of Hope’s monthly prayer newsletter, and pray for believers around the world as they share the gospel. Every month, you will receive prayer requests from Words of Hope Uganda and Words of Hope’s other international fields. 
  3. Participate in the work of Words of Hope Uganda today by giving a gift to support their ministry. Every gift supports indigenous Christian workers as they share the good news of Jesus, and help believers grow in their faith. 

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12:11)