Why we mark Martyrs Day


It is possible that many believers in Uganda do not understand why we celebrate the Uganda Martyrs.

I was watching the 10 O’clock news on a local TV station and an old man was being interviewed about why he walked from western Uganda to Namugongo.

He confessed that some people had confiscated his land at home, leaving him homeless. He wanted to tell Kizito, one of the Martyrs, to convict the thieves so that he can regain his property.

I was left wondering: did he have to go through Kizito or walk all the way to Namugongo to get his land back?

Then I discover that some of our believers go to Namugongo to worship martyrs instead of worshiping God.

Actually the martyrs seem to take the position of God in some believers’ hearts! These people forget that the martyrs were victorious due to their commitment to Christ and the power God gave them.

So I believe the example of the martyrs should instead give us a deeper understanding of how God can do extraordinary works even through ordinary people. With this in mind, we should put God above other things.

The martyrs challenge us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices for the gospel of Christ.

This picture shows how some of the martyrs were murdered copy
These sculptures depict how the martyrs were murdered (Photo by Arthur Matsiko)

Looking at their determination and willingness to die for the sake of the embryonic faith in Uganda, as believers, we need to preach the gospel in and out of season as St. Paul charges in 2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word! Be ready season in and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching.”

When we celebrate the historic work of the martyrs, we are equally reminded of our responsibility to share God’s word with the hurting world irrespective of the situations.

All believers should renew their faith in God through such celebration. Celebrating and remembering their remarkable work every year should be a great opportunity to spend time in prayer, asking God to revive our commitment to Him and service to fellow human beings and as well purpose to lead a new and transformed life in Christ Jesus.

If we are revived we are in a better position to fully emulate the martyrs and serve God wholeheartedly.

So, praising and worshipping the martyrs without considering what Christ did on the cross is an obstacle to our relationship with God.

Thus I pray that we shall purpose to have an encounter with God on Martyrs’ Day rather than paying blind homage to the martyrs. Remember, Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for you and me so we have direct access to God!

The writer teaches in the Foundation Studies Department