Kefa Sempangi was pastor of the large Redeemed Church of Uganda. Easter Sunday 1973 was his first serious brush with death at the hands of Idi Amin’s goons.
After an all-day worship service he went exhausted to the vestry to change clothes—too exhausted to notice the five strangers (government secret police goons) following him into the room:
They stood between me and the door, pointing their rifles at my face.
For a long moment no one said anything. Then the tallest man, obviously the leader, spoke. “We are going to kill you,” he said. “If you have something to say, say it before you die.” He spoke quietly but his face was twisted with hatred.
I could only stare at him. For a sickening moment I felt the full weight of his rage. We had never met before but his deepest desire was to tear me to pieces.
My mouth felt heavy and my limbs began to shake. Everything left my control. They will not need to kill me, I thought to myself. I am just going to fall over dead and I will never see my family again.
From far away I heard a voice, and I was astonished to realize that it was my own. “I do not need to plead my own cause,” I heard myself saying. “I am a dead man already. My life is dead and hidden in Christ. It is your lives that are in danger; you are dead in your sins. I will pray to God that after you have killed me, He will spare you from eternal destruction.”
The tall one took a step towards me and then stopped. In an instant, his face was changed. His hatred had turned to curiosity. He lowered his gun and motioned to the others to do the same. They stared at him in amazement but they took their guns from my face.
Then the tall one spoke again. “Will you pray for us now?” he asked. I thought my ears were playing a trick. I looked at him and then at the others. My mind was completely paralyzed.
“Father in heaven,” I prayed, “You who have forgiven men in the past, forgive these men also. Do not let them perish in their sins but bring them into yourself.”
RESPONSE: Realizing I am dead in Christ brings boldness to proclaim truth even in fearful situations.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to trust You in times of fear and challenge and allow Your Spirit to take control of every situation.
1. F. Kefa Sempangi, A Distant Grief, Glendale, CA: G/L Publications, 1979, pp.119-120.