Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A hero for our time: Henry Orombi

This week's World Magazine has named African Archbishops Peter Akinola and Henry Orombi as "Daniels of the Year" (World's effort to celebrate christians who stand firm in the midst of pressure and trial).

Orombi's story particularly gripped me. I learned about his apprenticeship to Archbishop Janini Luwam, who was murdered by Idi Amin's thugs. He was there the night Luwan was killed -- the thugs came to the house and forced their way in "They forced him to go everywhere," says Orombi, "the chapel, the bedrooms -- under the pretext of looking for guns. Finally they came to this room and on this table was a Bible. 'This is my gun' Luwam told the men. Not long after, Idi Amin's men shot and killed Luwam" -- What a mentor -- what courage under pressure -- what composure in the face of evil.

Meanwhile, Orombi was jailed. What a trying time for a man who had dropped out of high school to become a mechanic, but found no gift for it. His father had sent him to a teacher's college where he became a Christian -- and opened up a love of children's ministry. He went on to study theology in Kampala (at what is now Uganda Christian University) and then for three years at St John's College, Nottingham. It was during his time as a seminary student that he worked with the Archbishop, and jailed.

Needless to say, he was eventually released and became a priest. His adminiatrative skill won him a bishopric -- he began the term in a new diocese with no infrastructure. Within a decade, he had established a complete system that included churches, schools, training centers, missionary airstrips and rural and community outreach that was a model for Anglicans around the globe "I did it by preaching the gospel fiercely" he said. He was soon appointed archbishop.

Now he ministers in a land that is torn by violence from 20 years of war with rebels in the Lord's Resistance Army (though a peace agreement has been recently settled). This is a man who is acquainted with suffering on a daily basis. All these things, I learned from the World Magazine article. This man is a hero for Christianity.

I did some checking on weblogs for comments about Orombi -- had to go back a few months to get material that wasn't just regurgitation of the article (which I provided nicely for you above)
  • GadgetVicar says: "What a cool Archbishop! He is passionate, funny, Jesus-centred and humble. A wonderfully encouraging hour in which the Lord drew near to me in a lovely way."
  • Terry in Singapore speaks of his visit there to promote the Alpha Course: "It was so good to meet Archbishop Henry Orombi from Uganda, who was in Singapore this week for a series of revival meetings. We were very blessed by his ministry."
  • Space in a Place that Nobody Knows gives a personal account of a vacation in Uganda spent with the Archbishop (apparently they are old family friends)

Other Posts on African Christianity:

Whose Christianity is it Anyway?

Advice from Africa: Start with prayer

Sometimes its good to go hungry

Bi-Okoto -- an African Experience

Soli Deo Gloria