Pioneer Missionary in Uganda
James Hannington grew up in the South of England. He was from a wealthy family. He had money, education, position, and opportunity, but there came a day when he gave it all up to be a missionary in Uganda.
Hannington was converted through the letters of Rev E C Dawson, a college friend. In his diary he summed it up like this, ‘Dawson opened a correspondence with me today which I can only describe as delightful, it led to my conversion’. The first qualification for missionary work is to be converted! The primary purpose of all missionary work is to see others converted, as the Great Commission says, ‘to make disciples of all nations’.
Psalm 68:31 reminds us that ‘Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.’ Keep in mind that the kingdom of Ethiopia in Bible times was much larger than it is today. This is a great promise for missionary work in East Africa.
Hannington received extracts of letters that missionaries in East Africa were sending home. As he read these letters the call of God began to sound louder and louder in his heart. In 1882 the news came of two missionaries who had been murdered on the shores of Lake Victoria. Immediately he offered himself for service and was accepted.
The need for missionaries is still as great as ever. The hymn writer said, ‘I can hear my Saviour calling’. If God has called you to serve Him on the mission field, you will never be happy, regardless of what else you achieve, unless you obey that call.
In Uganda Hannington had to walk almost everywhere; good water was scarce; warrior tribes abounded; and because of fever and dysentery, he was often weak in body. This gives some idea of ‘the hardness he endured’ to bring the Gospel to the Ugandan people. What is it that keeps you back from being a missionary? Is it the comforts of home? ‘The call of God it is so clear, but friendships call and home is dear’.
Killed by Ugandan nationals on 29th October 1885, Hannington’s last words were, ‘Go and tell Mwanga (the king) I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood’. Such sacrifice has opened Uganda today for the Gospel. Will we do all we can to establish the Gospel there while we have the opportunity? Will you give your supplications, your substance, yourself to further Christ’s Kingdom in that land?
Hannington was consecrated the first Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa. But more important, he was consecrated to the Lord’s work in Uganda. Are you willing to make the same consecration of your life? Ponder carefully the words of King David, ‘And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the LORD?’ (1 Chronicles 29:5).
Rev. David McMillan.