Joseph Byamukama is a Langham Scholar currently doing his PhD through Melbourne’s Ridley College, enabled by financial supporters who give to Langham Australia. Joseph is from Uganda and through his PhD is exploring how Isaiah shapes Jesus’ lordship in the book of Acts. Since 2021 he has been doing research and study through Ridley while at home in Uganda, with short trips to Australia each year to meet with his supervisor and study in person.
Joseph is married to the lovely Daphne and has two young sons. Family is an important part of his life and a great blessing from God. Joseph lost his parents when he was young and was raised by his grandmother. His grandmother and many aunties and uncles are still alive and living in his home village, enabling him and his family to remain close. This has been extremely valuable as he juggles doing his PhD while also continuing to work in his existing ministry.
Equipping the church of Uganda
Joseph helped found and is a Team Leader for Veracity Fount, a ministry that equips the Ugandan Church for its renewal. The ministry comes, in part, from Joseph’s passionate belief that Africans must be equipped to reach Africans with the Gospel of Christ.
He says, “We equip the Ugandan church through theological resources and theological research. We have a public theological library in Kampala, Uganda, that provides sound biblical resources to pastors and lay people who want to study, to read, to research and stuff like that. It’s very rare to get good biblical materials in Kampala.”
In addition to their library, Veracity Fount also offers public small group Bible studies to enable Christians in Uganda to have guidance on how to interpret the Bible in context. These groups happen in four locations in Kampala and aim to help each person who attends to develop inductive Bible study skills. For Christians throughout Uganda, Joseph says it’s important they “learn to listen to the text rather than bringing their subconscious cultural and experiential biases into the passage.”
As well as these practical offerings for Christians in Uganda, Veracity Fount also produces relevant research, brings together helpful resources, offers interesting topical talks on Zoom, and produces a podcast. Joseph and others working in the ministry continue to take the opportunities God provides in order to equip the Ugandan church, and by His grace are seeing growth in their ministry.
Confronting traditions and unpacking contexts
Joseph originally heard about Langham from a friend in Uganda, but it was two former professors at Gordon-Conwell university, Dr. Vidu Adonis and Dr. Jeff Arthurs, who actually encouraged him to apply.
Joseph reflects, “They had insisted that I pursue doctoral studies given my vision for ministry in Uganda, and Langham was the foremost organization that they felt could assist with my further studies. They were not wrong, and I am grateful.”
In Uganda and throughout Africa, the prosperity gospel is widespread among Christians and is shared in many churches. There are also challenges navigating empty doctrine, which is often African traditional religious concepts masked with biblical language. Joseph says, “Sometimes you can hear people use biblical words, but they fill those words with indigenous African traditional concepts. Until you get beneath the surface to know their framework of thinking, it becomes difficult to actually help them understand and appreciate the gospel.”
For Joseph, facilitating the spiritual growth of Christians in Uganda and throughout Africa is of paramount importance and is a driving force for his PhD. He shares, “My passion to delve into the African tradition world is geared towards discipleship. Of course, there is the evangelistic and mission element, but even those who come to church may not necessarily understand what the cost is.”
Studying the intersection of African tradition and Christianity is important in order to enable better discipleship of Ugandan Christians. Joseph says, “Without understanding people’s worlds, you can hardly succeed at the task of discipleship. It’s difficult for people to appreciate who Jesus is as Lord until He begins to confirm, clarify, and confront their presuppositions.”