“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe”- (1 Timothy 4:12).
Today, Uganda, celebrates June 3rd as Martyrs Day. This is in commemoration of the 23 Protestant and 22 Catholic young men who were murdered between 1885 and 1887 on the orders of Buganda’s absolute King Mwanga who was opposed to the spread of Christianity in Uganda. These martyrs were largely the work of the Protestant Scottish missionary Alexander Mackay and Catholic French priest, Father Simeon Lourdel.
Born into a privileged Scottish family, after graduating as an Engineer from the University of Edinburg and the University of Berlin, in 1876 Mackay answered a call of the Church Missionary Society to go to Uganda and share the Christian Gospel. Mackay arrived in Uganda in November 1878, later followed by Father Lourdel in 1879. Mackay would spend 14 years here, never once returning to his native Scotland. He was friendly with King Mutesa I and his ministry prospered with converts. But in 1884 when King Mwanga, succeeded his pragmatic father, relations soured, and when some of his converts were massacred in 1886, Mackay fled to exile in Tanzania, where he would die in 1890.
Mackay was a man of many gifts. He translated the Gospel into the Luganda language. He used his engineering skills to help build roads, boats, and houses. Impressed by his work ethic, the Baganda who called him Makaayi gave him a new name, Muzungu-wa Kazi, meaning “white man of work.”
Both Mackay and Lourdel would die at some pretty young age of devastating malaria; he at 40 and Lourdel at 37. Young as these missionaries were the fruits of their seeds are seen today in the number of Christian coverts spread around the country. US President Abraham Lincoln once said, “And in the end it's not the years in your life that count; it's the life in your years.” So, true, as we see here!
Prayer today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, how thankful I am for the life you have given me whose value is not in the number of years but in serving you effectively, as we see for the lives of these young men who gave up their lives for you, this I pray in Jesus’s name!