LABAN MWESIGWA JJUMBA
The Multitalented and Prophetic International Minister and Man behind the Prayer Movement
by Rebecca Rugyendo and Douglas Odoki
Laban Jjumba was born on the 1st of August, 1950 in Masaka-Uganda. He started school in 1957 at Kaboyo Primary School Masaka. After passing in grade 1 in Primary Leaving Examinations Laban joined Kako Junior Secondary School in 1963, where he completed the 2-year Junior Secondary course and passed in Grade 1 being one of the top students in the entire Masaka District.
In 1965 he joined King’s College Budo, and became part of the express stream that did O-levels in three years instead of four. While at Budo, in November 1965, Laban accepted Jesus into his life as his personal saviour. In 1968 he joined the HSC course in King’s College Budo doing Double Maths (i.e. Pure Maths and Applied Maths), Physics at principal level, and Divinity at subsidiary level. In 1969 he completed HSC, obtaining three principal passes and the subsidiary pass in Divinity.
In 1970 he was admitted to Makerere University in the pioneer class of the BSc Engineering Faculty. As part of his training he worked with Ministry of Works in a country-wide traffic density roads surveys project, and also for some months with the Department of Agricultural Engineering at Kabanyoro University Farm as a Draughtsman. After completing only the first part of the Engineering course, in 1973 he resigned his Engineering career for Christian ministry. However, this should not make anyone think that Laban had any other motive to join the ministry other than the fact that it was the call of God upon his life. He also believes that all Christians are called. “I am not in Christian Ministry as a professional. Like Amos the prophet, I was a farmer of sycamore trees and then God called me into ministry. I believe that God has called every Christian to be a minister. We are all soul winners. When we begin classifying some people as professional soul winners and other believers as ordinary Christians, I think we are doing something that is not biblical. I believe that someone like Dr. James Magara who is a professional dentist is busier in the work of the ministry which he does alongside his work as a dentist than most pastors I know.”
In 1971, he founded the music band, “The Gospel Ambassadors”, which was among the pioneer guitar-based Christian music bands in the country. During those years; in collaboration with the Scripture Union, they performed the famous musical drama, ‘The City Kid’, written by Clive Lewis, with John Sentamu (now Archbishop of Canterbury) as the City Kid, Laban Jjumba, Lazarus Seruyange (now Professor and National Director of Life Ministry), and Prilla Billington as the guitarists, and Lois Nerima (later Mrs. Lois Seruyange) and others as vocalists. It was a great performance.
In 1973 he founded the ‘Living Streams Foundation’ which became the Christian ministry base covering both his evangelistic outreaches and also his publishing and teaching ministry. “I started ‘Living Streams Foundation’ when I was still a student at Makerere University in 1971. As president of the Christian Union (with John Sentamu as my deputy), I was involved in a lot of evangelistic outreaches and ministry work. As I went out soul wining, many people were giving their lives to Christ. I started publishing follow up letters for new converts who turned to the Lord. That was the time people were getting healed and being filled with the Holy Spirit. For instance, John Sentamu and I went to Nabisunsa Girls and prayed for the girls to receive the Holy Spirit and God was moving in a mighty way. This was a time in my life that I was doing more or less personal ministry. We did not go as Makerere University Christian Union or Deliverance Church. We were simply carrying out the great commission on a personal basis. That was about the time Deliverance Church was coming up.”
In those years Laban used to organise evangelistic miracle rallies, where he would pray for the sick. He also started organising “Coffee Bars” at his house (which was code named ‘Valley House’) between Makerere and Mulago and later at ‘Bethany’ below Makerere College School. This was an evangelistic ministry mainly to University students. This continued until 1977. He had started publishing the Christian magazine ‘Living Streams’ in 1971, which continued in publication, on and off, all through the Idi Amin era, and again between 1979 and 1985. Sometimes, things got a little tricky but he stood his ground. “When I eventually joined Deliverance Church, I didn’t feel the need to drop this that I had already started. This was a ministry that was interdenominational and was reaching out to many people. Even though I was part of Deliverance Church, I continued this ministry that was beyond the local church. Sometimes some members of the church would feel that the magazine could have been a church magazine instead of ‘Living Streams’, I believe that that atmosphere that seems to indicate conflict is good for us. It makes us grow as Christians.” Laban carries the credit of being among the first Christian publishers in Uganda.
In 1973 he joined Deliverance Church and later became one of the elders. In 1980 he became one of the founding members of the Deliverance Church Ministry Team, which oversees all the Deliverance Churches and the Ministry Projects (Medical, Education, Water Drilling, Child Care and other charitable work) all over the country, and also in Eastern Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. Currently, he is Senior Pastor of Deliverance Church Kansanga in Kampala. However, Laban does not necessarily think he was called to pastor. “I am not a pastor. This whole idea of calling me a pastor started eight or seven years ago. This was only when we made a decision as the ministry team that whosoever should be part of the leadership must have some kind of pastoral experience. So I had to lead a church too.”
Laban got married to Margaret in 1975. They have five children, two boys, Mark and Jonathan, followed by three girls Kathryn, Susanna and Esther. It is a family of leaders, having produced a Head-Boy for Makerere College School, and a Head-Girl for Gayaza High School. Their first-born Mark Sentongo is married to Sarah, and they have given to Laban and Margaret their first grandson, Michael Kuganja.
Between 1973 and 1977, together with about ten other believers, Laban pioneered the movement of prayer for the country, which intensified between 1977 and 1979 with underground prayer meetings and radical prayer journeys and proclamations. During one memorable meeting in 1978 this group received a word to break “the horn of wickedness over the land,” as a word referring to Idi Amin’s rule. Surprisingly after a few weeks of receiving this word and making this proclamation, Idi Amin attacked and invaded Tanzania, annexing the Kagera region north of the river and south of the border with Tanzania. This started the war which brought down Amin’s regime early in 1979. This group was to later (1980) re-organise under the name ‘Intercessors for Uganda’. According to Laban, this was not a ‘one church prayer group’. It was a reflection of the nature of salvation that existed in the church then. Twenty years ago, the salvation depicted was from the East African revival, with the flavour of the Baptist Church or Deliverance Church added onto it. Such people have a deeper relationship with each other as brethren beyond just being from a particular church. This is not the case with the people who have become born again in the newer groups. For most of the older generation from Deliverance Church, the circle of fellowship goes beyond the walls of Deliverance Church. That is why it was easy and fulfilling to work with brethren from other churches to call a national day of prayer.
In 1976 – a previously scheduled prayer retreat led by Laban was held at Kiwafu Primary School in Entebbe on a certain Saturday. Miraculously this coincided with the hijack saga of the Air France plane carrying many Jews, which was held at Entebbe Airport by the hijackers. Unknown to the intercessors, who were praying for the hostages held in the Old Airport Building, which they could see clearly just a cross the swamp, a commando team of the Israeli Defence Forces was launching their mission that very morning in Israel, which resulted in the famous Entebbe Raid that Saturday night, that led to the rescue. It is incredible how God could station a small, humble group of intercessors on site in Entebbe, to give prayer cover to a mission they never knew about, and only learnt of the details and results afterwards.
In 1979, after Idi Amin was overthrown, Laban together with other believers and church leaders established ‘Uganda National Evangelistic Crusades (UNEC)’. Laban was among the evangelists under UNEC, which conducted evangelistic crusades and rallies in many towns in Uganda, during the evangelistic zeal that followed the overthrow of Idi Amin. In 1980 Laban travelled to England to participate in a Christian conference. This pioneered his international ministry of evangelism, teaching, prayer and as a conference speaker. To date he has visited more than 40 countries of the world on all continents. He has ministered in 20 countries in Africa alone.
In the early 1980s Laban founded an A4 two-page newsletter called ‘Vision’, with evangelistic teaching, revival and prophetic articles. This publication continued until 1985 when the famous issue of the ‘Vision’ came out. The Uganda Peace Talks in Nairobi between Museveni and the late General Tito Okello’s regime were going on at that time. General Okello called the whole nation to gather in different places of worship to pray for peace while the peace talks went on in Nairobi. As the intercessors prayed, God spoke and said, “There is no peace for the wicked.” He further spoke saying the nation should go into repentance like the population of Nineveh did when Jonah proclaimed there, that in 40 days the city would be destroyed. The special edition of ‘Vision’ was published after that prayer meeting, proclaiming in bold print on the top page: “As Ugandans pray for peace, God says, NO PEACE,” and then added, “40 Days and the City will be Destroyed!” The message was so bold that many people feared for their lives. However, there was no cause for fear. Churches, NGOs and individuals contributed money for a re-print. The ‘Vision’ was printed en masse in English, Luo and Luganda as ‘Ninyuto’ and ‘Omulabi’, respectively. At that time Vision became God’s voice to the nation.
In 1986 Laban wrote a letter to the Ministry of Information, requesting for permission to publish ‘Vision’ as a Christian Newspaper. The Government revealed that the name had been adopted for its national daily newspaper that was to be launched and that another name should be thought of! The newsletter discontinued publication.
In 1985, Laban together with other prayer leaders on the continent launched ‘Intercessors for Africa’, a movement of strategic prayer and spiritual warfare, whose vision is to see the transformation of the continent, to enter her “promised land.”
In 1998, between May and December, Laban led the prayer and evangelistic effort called the Northern Uganda Spiritual Crusade, which mobilised Christians from the rest of the country to pray for and not neglect Northern Uganda. He led prayer teams every fortnight for seven months to different parts of Gulu and Kitgum districts at that time, which included outreaches into the Internally Displaced People’s Camps and the towns. Many times these missions experienced near brushes with the rebels of the LRA. In the end the rebels retreated into Sudan, and there was not a single incident of rebel attacks for the whole of 1999 throughout all of Northern Uganda. This was a great testimony of God’s answer to strategic prayer to the whole nation.
At the close of 1999, when the 1st Lady, Mrs. Janet Museveni asked Christian leaders to help her organise a thanksgiving service in Namboole Stadium to usher in the New Millennium on the night of December 31st and the morning of January 2000, Laban who was part of the organising committee suggested that the nation of Uganda be dedicated to God for the next Millennium. He was chosen to compose this declaration, which he read at midnight as the New Millennium was ushered in.
Starting with the “Intercessors for Africa” Conference which was held in Johannesburg in April 2000, Laban has been used of God to give prophetic words concerning the transformation of the African Continent and the redemption of nations. He believes many nations and kingdoms will declare their allegiance to the Lord Jesus, as nations, in this generation. Laban has had a ministry to kings and Heads of State in the last few years, as the Lord has miraculously opened doors for prayer and counsel.
It is amazing how this talented man is able to balance the ministry of the local church as a member of the team and international ministry. This stems from a disciplined and consistent lifestyle that he has led. Asking him about where Deliverance Church has come from and where he thinks she is going; Laban is full of prophetic insights and declarations that will excite any member of this ministry.
Deliverance Church started like the church in the book of Acts, alive, vibrant, and moving in the power of the Holy Spirit but then, kind of went quiet. This, Laban says, is all part of God’s design. At the team leaders’ retreat at Busega, on the 20th January 2007, God gave a prophetic word to take Deliverance Church into the next generation. Just like Israel left Egypt and they were ushered into 40 years of wilderness, Deliverance Church also left “Egypt” and were ushered into 40 years of some kind of wilderness. However, the church is not to look at the last 40 years of the wilderness in a negative way. It has been a period of training and preparation for what lies ahead. The Lord has not changed his mind concerning Deliverance church and the call he gave forty years ago. He spoke to Laban and the team from the book of Acts Chapter 13, the same word He had spoken to the church in Antioch when they had gathered together in prayer and fasting, which was the same word that was spoken to the team in 1980 when it was birthed:
The Lord said separate me this team of men whom I the Lord have been training and preparing for the last forty years for the work I have for them. The Lord made it clear to me that during the last 40 years; He had matured us through His word. We endured hardship and have learnt from the mistakes of our youth. He said, “I see a team of men, who started as young students but are now international calibre men, bound in covenant relationship which the Lord has established for the last forty years. This has been tested through the temptations of money, sex and glory. The Lord has helped them to overcome. I see men like Joshua and Caleb, who have gone through the wilderness experience and still kept their foundation so strong, they still have their eyes fixed on the bulk of the Promised Land ahead. The land they got before the promised land belonged to the Gog of Bashan and Sihon the Amorite. They conquered some land. In fact, two of the tribes said there is some good grassland for our cattle. Let us stay here and not cross over. But Moses said no, we all cross. You cross with the brethren, help them conquer and then you can come back. A small portion of land is all they have got in 40 years. And the Lord is telling us that these churches we have in Uganda, we look back with emotion, remembering how the Lord has carried us through the last 40 years. The Lord was telling us that the heartland of the land of promise is still the other side. And the Lord is saying after 40 years of training, many have died in the wilderness. But we who have survived should posture ourselves and cross the Jordan into the real ministry that God originally intended us to do.
This highly gifted and devouted man feels that this is the time to mentor the next generation to equip them to lead the church. As the other team members concentrate on leadership and the development of other gifts, Laban feels God has given him the responsibly to mentor the next generation into prayer and walking into the prophetic. “The Lord spoke to me some time ago concerning prayer. He said we teach a lot about prayer but people do not really pray. So I felt led to start prayer retreats. People have been drilled into a lifestyle of prayer and the studying of God’s word. Those who have attended these prayer retreats organised by Intercessors for Uganda have had their lives changed!” He believes that a well equipped prayer trained and word equipped generation will be able to conquer and possess the promised land.
Laban walks in a multiple of gifts. He is a great intercessor, a teacher of the word and also a prophet. The prophetic comes off very strongly in the ministry of Intercessors for Africa. He is into computers, doing a lot of IT work. In fact his phone is a computer. He puts into practice what he studied as an engineer, who knows, he might pick up from where he left off in engineering after he retires from active church work. Watch this space.