Thursday, May 30, 2013

Apolo Kivebulaya

Apolo was an Ugandan missionary considered the principal pioneer of the Anglican church in the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Before becoming a Christian, Apolo was a Muslim soldier against the Christians. He was also an avid hemp smoker. During his military service, he deserted and fled to Ankole where he joined the Anglicans. He was attracted by the Christian life, especially the example of Mackay, a missionary from CMS/London who arrived in Uganda in 1878. He said: "At that time I was reading Matthew's Gospel which I liked very much, especially chapter five verse 13. This passage helped me to become a Christian and to abandon my military service."

Apolo was baptized in 1895 and became a catechist and followed a basic biblical studies program in Namirembe (Kampala). When the catechists from Toro explained the need for people to serve in their region, Apolo was the first volunteer to go to Toro.

Apolo's ministry in Toro was very effective and he was very satisfied with it. But a need for catechists arose in Nyagwaki (near Mount Rwenzori) and Apolo was sent to that area on May 9, 1895. But among the Bakonjo in Nyagwaki, Apolo did not think that his work was successful: "I was not happy because no one wanted to be baptized even though they would come and listen to the gospel." A few months later, Apolo was called back from Nyagwaki. At the same time, the Anglican Church of Uganda was seeking a missionary to go to Boga, in the Congo and Apolo offered to go.

Apolo preached the gospel in Boga and some of the people became Christians. But the majority were offended by his preaching, because it was against traditional practices, especially polygamy and the drinking of alcohol. Chief Tabaro was one of those who were offended and as a result, he forbade the Christians to build a church and ordered them not to give Apolo any food, but instead to let him die of hunger or be driven away. But it didn't.

Apolo was ordained a deacon on December 21, 1900 in Toro and then a priest in June 1903 in the Namirembe Cathedral. Contrary to Anglican tradition, he refused to wear the pastoral collar for personal reasons. Nevertheless, he did wear the liturgical robes.

Apolo declared the year 1921 "the year of the Gospel." Encouraged by the Lord, he took the gospel to the inhabitants of the forest: the Walese, the Wanyali, and the Wambuti (the latter are pygmies). He said: "Christ appeared before me as a man. It was like seeing a man who was my brother. He said to me: 'Go, preach in the forest, because I am with you. I am who I am--this is my Name.'"

Apolo went amongst these peoples as a friend, eating their food and sleeping in their houses. He baptized pygmies for the first time in 1932.

Apolo died on May 30th, 1933 at Boga, his mission field. Contrary to tradition, he was buried with his head toward the west (not the east) at his own request. In doing so, his desire was to indicate that the gospel needed to be taken to the western part of the country.

Propers for Apolo Kivebulaya - Priest, Missionary and Apostle to the Pygmies

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant Apolo Kivebulaya, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to the people of The Congo: Raise up, we pray thee, in this and every land, heralds and evangelists of thy kingdom, that thy Church may make known the unsearchable riches of Christ, and may increase with the increase of God; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Acts 1:1-9.

THE former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things. while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

The Gospel - St. Luke 10:1-9.

AFTER these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor pack, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

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