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Bitesize Biography – Festo Kivengere

By Frank Retief
November 2013 | Review by Tony Pietersen
  • Publisher: EP Books
  • ISBN: 978-0-85234-851-2
  • Pages: 176
  • Price: 6.99
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Festo Kivengere
Frank Retief
EP Books, 176 pages, £6.99
ISBN: 978-0-85234-851-2
Star Rating : 4

Here is a well written bitesize biography of a man mightily used by God in Uganda, Africa and other parts of the world. He is described as ‘the Billy Graham of Africa’ and even ‘the giant of Africa’, as he pursued the aim of bringing Jesus Christ to a sinful and (in his own experience) violent world.
    He would not fit neatly into our Reformed categories (the author admits this when making mention of his sermon on liberation theology, and in the epilogue), but in reading this you will come to see and understand how God can take hold of a life for his glory.
    Kivengere’s passion and commitment is obvious: ‘The cross speaks of life in conflict with death, life defeating death … The cross is … God moving in love to meet violent men and women, himself facing violence and suffering for us…
    ‘Your faith was born in violence. The Christian is not scared when nations are upset, when the whole world is shaking. Your faith was born at Calvary — I can stand anything. It is an all-weather faith’ (p.88).
    The biography covers his life in a warm and understanding way, from an African perspective that the reader will find informative and helpful. Many aspects are described, including Kivengere’s struggle under the rule of Idi Amin. His love for his family and his faithfulness to Jesus and the gospel, even in his dying moments, are highlighted.
    I particularly enjoyed reading of Kivengere’s early impression of Christians, brought out when his friend Bugaari joined ‘the burning ones’ or — as we know it — was born again (pp. 34-35).
    At the end, you cannot but feel that Africa has lost a great man of God. You will find yourself praying that God would use you for his glory like he did Festo Kivengere.
    It is wonderful to read in such biographies how ordinary men are transformed through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ into giants of the faith, by the power of our great missionary God.
Tony Pietersen
Workington