To Uganda Christian University’s Vice Chancellor, Rev Canon Dr John Ssenyonyi, retirement is something he knows will come at one time in his life and is not fearful about it, noting that it’s God who takes care of us.
He will retire next year in August. He has some houses and land. “Do I need to tell people I am ready for retirement? I don’t, because I don’t know what will happen in future,” he says. In trying to avoid some of the challenges faced by people who go into retirement, after retiring he will relocate to one of his houses.
He hopes to take off some time to write, including memoirs of his time in university management. He will also continue serving God by preaching the Gospel.
He says that from his youth, he has found delight and fulfilment in the Lord’s Vineyard. “Today I do not regret serving God and this has helped me to live a comforting life as I await my retirement in 2020,” Ssenyonyi says.
“Serving as a vice chancellor at has been interesting and heart-warming. My unchanging calling is as an evangelist and a teacher of God’s Word. I discovered my gifts early in my Christian life in 1976, while I was studying at the University of Nairobi when God saved me and changed my life. It was never my intention to get involved in administration,” he says.
Dr Ssenyonyi is a free and easy man, friendly, welcoming and approachable with a minimum of protocol everywhere. He feels God loves him and wants to use him in his vineyard.
“I resigned from a university teaching position in the Department of Mathematics at Makerere University to preach the Gospel as my sole vocation. God used Bishop Festo Kivengere to invite me into African Evangelistic Enterprise, as an evangelist. I have no regrets whatsoever for doing God’s work; God has been faithful beyond my dreams. I have not searched for jobs at any time but God has directed me to Jjbs where I have been invited without applying for them. My only application, and admittedly done half-reluctantly was for the vice chancellor position. My passion has always been for what God wants, to serve others rather than the money I earn,” says Ssenyonyi.
Retirement is one of the most trending topics of discussion most especially among people halfway their life or even those in the evening of their lives. This hasn’t been the same for Dr Ssenyonyi since he has cautiously planned for his retirement and he says he will still be busy writing since he has not had enough time to do so during his tenure, and therefore although he will be retired he is not tired. He looks forward to a comfortable and fulfilling retirement.
Dr Ssenyonyi loves reading and does so extensively on various subjects. So he intends to intensify his reading and writing, including writing memoirs about his time at UCU through the different positions he has held.
“I want to focus on chronicling my time at UCU, I have had ups and downs, as expected, but if God gives me the time and strength I will do that. Besides, I want to spend a lot of time writing because I have a lot of material and to compile what I have already written. I feel I must also write my autobiography, and there are several other topics. Since we have some land, I want to invest in something that will support my family,” he narrates.
He considers his spiritual life paramount. “Read the Bible regularly, study it, and pray to keep good with spiritual challenges,” he says. He also says he will keep himself updated and informed by reading newspapers and different books.
“I would like to invest but not to work as hard as I have been doing; I just want to have gentle investments that will allow me to have enough time with my family.”
How he will spend his free time
He will be doing much of preaching. “I really want to see that I am a true Christian and to remain faithful to God. I will be moving out with my family to enjoy sometime and maintain a healthy style. I have books in my home library that I have not read. But I also dream of taking walks with my wife, breathing in the freshness of an unhurried life,” he says.
To trust God for everything and be anxious for nothing, to Love all and to always be active. He says what disturbs old people is inactivity.
Advice to those planning to retire
“Anybody planning to retire should put God first and then plan and work accordingly. Planning is irreplaceable but planning God out of life is self-deception. Plan for retirement to avoid living a miserable life. If your life in active service is uninteresting then you will not enjoy life in retirement,” Ssenyonyi says.
Rev Dr Ssenyonyi was born March 7, 1956 in Luweero, the third born of Mr and Mrs Eriakimu Kajja and Efulansi Kajja of Nakasongola District. Ssenyonyi is happily married to Dr Ruth Nantege Ssenyonyi and they have four children.
He began his education at Nakasongola Church of Uganda Primary School from 1961-1967. He then joined Ndejje SSS for his O-Level from 1969-1972. In 1973-1974, he attended Kings College Budo for A-Level and majored in Physics Chemistry and Mathematics. From 1975-1978, he did his Bachelor in Science degree at the University of Nairobi majoring in Mathematics and Statistics. From 1978-1980, he worked at MAK as what they then called a special assistant; this was essentially a teaching job in the Department of Mathematics. He later joined the University of Melbourne in Australia in 1980 from which he graduated with a PhD in Mathematical Statistics in 1984. He was appointed a lecturer in Department of Mathematics at Makerere University, 1984-1987.
He resigned to serve with African Evangelist Enterprise from 1988-2000. During that same time, he did a Master of Arts degree in Evangelism and Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in US.
In 2001, he was invited to be the university chaplain at Uganda Christian University (UCU), a three years old university at the time. Two and a half years later he became the deputy vice chancellor for finance and administration. He was appointed vice chancellor in 2010. He will be retiring in August 2020 after almost 20 years of service at UCU.