Revival and church growth continues from 1986 to the present. Uganda has widespread prayer movements, a strong evangelical presence in the Church of Uganda (Anglican), and renewal movements in the Catholic Church. Some consider it one of the most truly Christian nations in the world. Public prayer is common even in government and judicial buildings, and many people attend church. Pentecostal and charismatic churches grow the fastest, both the megachurches with thousands of members and the small house and storefront churches. Pray that God's character might be reflected by the Church and the nation as a whole.
Uganda's battle with AIDS massively reduced cases, from 25% in 1992 to below 10% in 2001. The government and churches bravely and successfully worked to achieve this reduction, largely on a platform of abstinence and fidelity but moving toward encouraging condom use. A debate now rages over the validity of these reduced percentages and a resurgence of HIV cases; some allege infection rates are rising. Pray that all ground gained in this battle might be consolidated by right belief and right lifestyles. Even with the progress made, millions still suffer or are bereaved. Churches and agencies are doing much in AIDS support and education (Christian AIDS Network, ACET, CMS, YWAM, SU - Aid for AIDS) and in care for orphans (Watoto Childcare, PAoC/Pentecostal Assemblies).
Discipleship in the Ugandan Church. A nation that is 85% Christian and 37% evangelical should reflect Kingdom values more than Uganda does. Uganda is also (before Covid) a regular destination for mission trips and short-term missions. There is no doubt that Uganda has widespread and urgent development needs, and that outside help is very welcome. But true discipleship within the Ugandan Church is arguably the greatest need. If the 85% - and especially the 37% - were to reflect Kingdom values in their own lives and communities, issues such as HIV/AIDS, child labour, orphans, corruption, Islamization, and even poverty itself would be much less of a challenge than they currently are. Uganda would be one of Africa's greatest senders of missionaries rather than one of its greatest mission receivers. Pray for churches - especially ones with influential pastors - to be captured with a vision to make disciples of Uganda's many believers.
Major ministry challenges for the Ugandan Church:
- Young people's ministry is fundamental to rebuilding the country in the wake of AIDS and the LRA devastation. Pray for the extensive ministry of SU in schools and for FOCUS(IFES) and Life Ministry (Cru) on university/tertiary campuses; evangelism, discipleship and training are the main ministries. Pray also for effective youth programmes in churches.
- Children in crisis. Numbing poverty deprives many children - including up to two million orphans - of care, finances for education and hope. Pray especially for street children, who are most numerous in Kampala (AIM, Viva, others), and for children in the north.
Missions vision in the Ugandan Church. A large, strong church that has endured suffering, combined with Uganda's geographical position next to several needy nations, make mission potential enormous. But this potential is still largely untapped due to lack of awareness and structures. Few Ugandan cross-cultural ministries exist; UEMA (Uganda Evangelical Missions Agency), African Initiative for Mission Service, Here Is Life and Life Ministries Uganda (Cru) are notable ministries raising the profile of cross-cultural mission sending. Pray for many Ugandans to be called, trained and sent. Kampala Evangelical School of Theology, Africa Bible University, Reformed Theological College, Uganda Christian University and other theological colleges have missions degree programmes.
The growing challenges of other religions.
- Muslim numbers and influence are quickly growing. Politicized Islam is increasingly common in the Islamic population, and Arab states have poured large sums of money into education and Islamic infrastructure. Muslims are a minority in many peoples, but the Kakwa, Aringa and Madi peoples in the northwest and the Soga in the southeast have significant numbers of Muslims. Relatively little has been done to sensitively reach out specifically to Muslims. Converts are few and have been persecuted.
- Animistic tribal religious practices, previously in decline, may be increasing as well as infiltrating and polluting Christian faith and practice. In some dioceses, the number of pagan shrines is double that of church buildings.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.