Letter from St Mark's House

St Mark's House

June - July 2019


Dear friends

“I am already dead, you cannot kill me.” Pastor Sempangi had preached to over 7,000 people in his Ugandan town’s football stadium an Easter message about the risen Lord, even though forbidden by the dictator Idi Amin. After the service, five of Amin’s Secret Police followed Sempangi back to his church and closed the door behind them. Five rifles pointed at his face. “We are going to kill you for disobeying Amin’s orders,” said the captain. “If you have something to say, say it before you die.” Sempangi, thinking of his lovely wife and little girl, began to shake. But the Lord gave him the courage to speak: “Do what you must,” he said. “The Word of God says that in Christ I am already dead, and that my real life is hidden with Him in God. It is not my life that is in danger, but yours. I am alive in the risen Lord but you are still dead in your sins. May He spare you from eternal destruction.”

The leader looked at Sempangi for a long time. Then he lowered his gun and said, “Will you pray for us?” He did. Those five officers made a commitment to Jesus Christ and began attending Sempangi's church. They also became his protectors rather than his aggressors. They used their positions to help church members whose lives were in danger, even helping several families escape from Uganda.

This remarkable story illustrates a truth from the biblical book of Revelation which we have been considering at St Mark’s. Sempangi’s encounter was in Easter 1973. In Easter 2019 a government interim report came just after murderous attacks on churches across Sri Lanka. It asserts that "In some regions, the level and nature of persecution is coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, with Christians being the most persecuted religious group.”

Revelation enables us to see that, behind the conflict and chaos which characterise affairs on earth there is a spiritual adversary, called “Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” It seems hard to deny the truth of this, although people do, when one sees the deception and delusion unleashed in our world where absolute truth is denied and eternal values derided. Opposition, whether physical or philosophical, political or personal, has been the experience of Christians throughout the ages. Revelation shows these convulsions to be the throes of an enemy defeated by Christ who triumphed through the Cross, who lives for ever and one day will be hailed as King of kings. No wonder we are encouraged not to be anxious but to be alert, standing firm in our faith in solidarity with Jesus’ followers world-wide, aware of the Devil’s tactics but assured that he has no chance of winning when he confronts a heart like that of Kefa Sempangi, captured by the victorious love of Christ. 

Keeping alert

Nick and Harriet