Adventist World Radio (AWR) continues to support radio projects in the Uganda Union and set up new projects in unentered parts of the country. Radio evangelism has been a significant factor in the recent membership growth in the nation. In fact, radio ministry in Uganda played a huge role in the record-breaking baptism of almost 50,000 during Total Member Involvement (TMI) campaigns.
Ray Allen director of AWR Global Training, recently visited the area and applauded the Uganda Union for its innovation in radio evangelism after conducting a site survey of all four Ugandan radio stations: Prime Radio, Light FM, Ebenezer and Maranatha.
Fred Nkayivu, managing director of Prime Radio, said the station is touching lives in unique ways. Allen’s visit coincided with a wheel chair giveaway to a new convert, Juma Ssekamanya. Ssekamanya, a former Muslim who became an Adventist by listening to the radio, is a double amputee. He contacted the station, requesting help to ease his movements, and Prime Radio announced this request on air. A good Samaritan donated a brand-new wheelchair.
After delivering the wheelchair to Ssekamanya, Allen said: “This is a prime example of how radio goes from broadcast to baptism and beyond. I’m just thrilled to witness it and hand over this wheelchair to a gentleman who has given his whole life to Christ.” He commended Prime Radio for being “the lifeblood of the community” and encouraged them to continue blessing others.
Rwenzori Field in western Uganda is the home of Light FM, an AWR project. Ezekiel Mutwanga, president of the Rwenzori Field, expressed his gratitude for equipment Light FM had received from AWR a few days before Allen’s visit. Soul winning in this region has been largely affected by Adventist radio. Mutwanga shared that evangelistic messages flooded the airwaves for three months before the TMI campaigns and he believes these directly contributed to the mass baptism of at least 2,700 people.
Many converts in the Rwenzori Field are crediting Light FM as their first source of the Adventist message. Baluku, a Catholic scholar baptized as a result of the radio ministry, said that as he tried tuning his radio set, he found Light FM. The music and the messages sounded authentic. For the first time, he heard about the Sabbath and other biblical truths unique to the Adventist faith.
Commenting on the baptisms resulting from radio messages, Allen said, “AWR has a new slogan: ‘From Broadcast to Baptism’; in Africa, we are already integrating the radio with our evangelistic efforts.” He added, “AWR is here to partner with you; it is your initiative that takes place, but we are here to aid you in the work of spreading the gospel."
AWR aspires to extend radio coverage to northern Uganda. For 20 years, this area was embroiled in a civil war. Not only was the region affected economically, but church growth slowed dramatically. It remains a mostly unentered area, according to the Uganda Union Adventist Mission.
By God’s providence, the word is spreading in the north. According to Robinson Okello, executive secretary of the Northern Uganda Field, church membership was hovering around 5,000 in early 2000. When private FM stations appeared in the region, the church began buying airtime to spread the word. Okello says that before the extensive use of radios, the church practiced “ambush evangelism” – an evangelist held a campaign and preached to people who had no context of the Adventist message.
Radio is changing that. Many people have already been introduced to biblical truths on the airwaves, and they want to learn more when a public evangelism campaign begins. In this way, radio usage has contributed to sharp growth in church membership, which stands now at about 24,000.
Besides the vast unentered northern Uganda region, the Southwestern Uganda Field with headquarters in Mbarara town, the Bunyoro region in Western Uganda Field and Karamoja region in eastern Uganda are looking forward to establishing AWR projects in their areas.