Uganda was rocked by riots last week, September 10- 12th , the likes of which have never been seen before. By the grace of God I and all my friends were at home and out of danger, but the tension was great as riots spread from Kampala, the capitol city, all over the country, even to a town only 10 miles from us near Luweero. All major roads into and out of Kampala were effectively blocked by rioters, transportation shut down, and many had to walk through hazardous conditions and tear gas to get home from work that first day. Lives were lost, hundreds imprisoned, and millions of dollars of property were destroyed
Riots are not uncommon in Kampala, and there is a highly trained military/riot police force that quickly restores order. But these riots were unusually violent, organized and widespread. What was the cause of it all? I don’t claim to understand African politics, but the picture I got of it all is something like this. Imagine if the state of Texas decided they didn’t need to be subject to the US Federal government and thought they might even secede from the Union. And the governor of this mighty state thought, because as governor he was a mighty man, he did not need to subject himself to the President of the US. He refused to communicate with the President about the problems, or even to answer his phone calls. Then think of Texas as one of the tribal kingdoms of Uganda, the governor as its king, and you will have the general picture
As with all such incidents, there was a flash point, and the riot was on, quickly spreading into other cities and towns, many tribal people rushing to get to Kampala and fight against the government. Tribal radio stations were shut down by the government for inciting violence over the air. And one theme that was heard repeatedly was that people were anticipating the Luweero people to come and join the battle. Due to past tribal history, Luweero is known for its fierce fighters
Strangely … Luweero was one of the few quiet places in the tribal upheavals tearing at the country. There was no talk of going to Kampala, and stores did not close up in anticipation of local riots, as in other towns. After 3 days of mayhem in Kampala and other towns, Luweero had not budged. Why this out of character behavior?
If you read my last newsletter, you know about the prayer groups going on 3 nights a week in several village churches around Luweero. As I talked with one of the leaders, I learned that for several months, they’ve been burdened to pray against the increasing tensions between their tribe and the government. About 2 months ago, a whole night was spent praying for God’s interventions for Uganda in this matter, and for the coming elections in early 2011. We believe it’s only because of the intercessory prayers of these groups that Luweero people did not get involved in the Kampala riots, which could have greatly accelerated the national problems and involved our local area in the violence and destruction.
A few days later, another one of the pastors involved in these prayer groups told us of having attended a well-advertised meeting at a church in Luweero, where there was a guest speaker. People had traveled from afar to attend, and the church had been fasting for 7 days. While there, this pastor heard the guest speaker prophesy that there is a prayer group in Luweero that will be responsible for the salvation of the entire nation of Uganda…
As this story was related to me, tears sprang into my eyes. We all knew that this prophecy was relating to these prayer groups, but I was also deeply convicted of my own small vision. As you can tell by my last newsletter, my vision has been focused on the Luweero area, not on the nation of Uganda. And yet we are training leaders in both Christian Bible Study Centre and SEVO ministries, and SEVO itself is now found in multiple districts in Uganda. People are accepting Jesus in both ministries ~ but I believe this salvation for all of Uganda is more than just the new birth experience coming to Ugandans. I believe it is also the intercessory prayer that is going up before the throne of God for all of Uganda, which will save it from worse than riots. Prayers can prevent genocides, civil wars, and all kinds of strife and destruction. Why did this violence occur last week, limited though it may have been? God knows. God disciplines His people, He judges, He works through all things. His ways are mysterious.
The Psalmist describes it well:
If the Lord had not been on our side ~ Let Israel [Uganda] say ~
|If the Lord had not been on our side|
When men attacked us,
When their anger flared against us,
They would have swallowed us alive;
The flood would have engulfed us,
The torrent would have swept over us,
The raging waters would have swept us away.
Praise be to the Lord,
Who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
Out of the fowler’s snare;
The snare has been broken,
And we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
The Maker of heaven and earth.
Pray for the peace of Uganda!