Seated in the president’s small pavilion at the memorable Scripture Union Golden Jubilee at Kololo Independence Grounds listening to one speaker after another talk about Scripture Union with nostalgia, was one man inwardly filled with gratitude.
Many people, especially the young, didn’t know who he was. Just a VIP like those seated around him; many might have thought. But Albert Taylor, 82, was not a VIP. Rather, this missionary was like a farmer who planted a seed and 50 years later, came to witness the fruits.
Mission to Uganda
Taylor’s missionary work started in the UK in his home town of Corby, Northamptonshire, where he ran youth fellowships and became a Lay leader in the Anglican Church. Taylor, 21, while on two years of national service in the British Army, had heeded to the altar call during an evangelistic meeting in 1952.
“After acquiring, from a soldier, and reading the Daily Bread passages and commentary materials, I wanted to explore Jesus and what he said,” Taylor says.
That came to be when he enrolled at Cambridge University, UK to study Natural Sciences in 1953. A representative of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) showed a film of the need of the people of the world for Jesus. He was inspired. But if there was any African country Taylor might have thought of coming to, it was Kenya not Uganda. He was a member of the Kenya Prayer Group at Cambridge.
Upon graduation from Cambridge and after two years of teaching and later enrolling at the CMS College, a missionary head teacher of Busoga College Mwiri, through CMS, requested for a Mathematics and Physics teacher. Taylor heeded to the call.
The trip to Uganda in 1960 took him about three weeks. It was by boat via the Indian Ocean to Mombasa, and to Kampala by train. He started teaching at Busoga College Mwiri. His first major challenges were Uganda’s tropical hot climate and his polished English accent ,which some pupils could not understand. But, he says, “What kept me going was that the pupils really wanted to learn.”
At the time and earlier through the 1950s missionary schools such as Gayaza High School, Busoga College Mwiri and Kings College Buddo, among others, each organised evangelistic camps for their students. In 1961, a coordinating committee was formed and Taylor was selected to head it.
“Our work was to supply evangelistic and faith building materials and go to schools to form scripture groups,” he says.
In 1963, Taylor was asked by the Church of Uganda Youth Board to become the Church of Uganda Schools’ Worker and Scripture Union Travelling Secretary. Scripture Union had been born. He led the organisation for eight years before moving to Kenya in 1971 and then back to the UK.
“The task was to reach out to all schools across the country, and people were willing. The challenge was only that of equipment. I remember we prayed so hard to get a telephone,” Taylor recalls.
Taylor, while doing his missionary duties in Uganda, met Elizabeth Heer, a Swiss missionary who worked as a secretary and typed the schools’ evangelism materials. In January 1964, both travelled together on a bus from Jinja to Nairobi. A seed of love had been planted. It was not until in April while on holiday in the UK that Taylor reflected.
“I was thinking about her and people were talking about all the good things about her. I wrote to her a cautious inquiring letter.”
Elizabeth received the letter in Kampala. It’s 49 years since but Taylor talks about that letter with emotions. He sighs, stops the interview for about three minutes and cleans his eyeglasses.
“She told me she was also thinking about me and the letter was a confirmation,” he says in a broken voice. In August, Elizabeth travelled to the UK. She and Taylor went on a safari together. Taylor visited Elizabeth’s parents in Switzerland and the two got married in December the same year. The rest is history.
After the wedding in Switzerland, the Taylors returned to Uganda, a country where they didn’t only evangelise but found love. A house was located for them in Nakulabye. This house is the present day S.U head office. Fifty years later, S.U has grown from the 52 schools in 1963 to 3,970 primary and secondary schools, reaching at least 476,000 children and youths annually. When the Taylors attended the organisation’s golden jubilee in November, they could not be more grateful.
“We were privileged to be part of the celebration. Not many people live to see the fruits of their work.”
They might be aging, but the Taylors still travel the world sharing their faith. “In April, we were in Finland teaching about inner healing and deliverance. November found us in Uganda. Before we fly back to Switzerland, we’ll be in Addis Ababa and in April, we’ll go back to Finland.”