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Magdalon and Kezia Lind

Photo courtesy of Leif Lind.

Lind, Magdalon Eugen (1910–1985) and Kezia (1909–2013)

By Yona Balyage, and Nathaniel Mumbere Walemba

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Yona Balyage, Ph.D. in education (Central Luzon State University, Philippines), is a professor in Educational Administration and Management. He serves as director of Quality Assurance at the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton, Eldoret, Kenya. He has also served as department head and school dean at the same university. He is married to Eseza and they have three children.

Nathaniel Mumbere Walemba, D.Min. (Andrews University, Berrien Spring, Michigan U.S.A.), retired in 2015 as executive secretary of the East-Central Africa Division (ECD) of Seventh-day Adventists. In retirement, he is assistant editor of this encyclopedia for ECD. A Ugandan by birth, Walemba has served the Seventh-day Adventist Church in many capacities having started as a teacher, a frontline pastor, and principal of Bugema Adventist College in Uganda. He has authored several magazine articles and a chapter, “The Experience of Salvation and Spiritualistic Manifestations,” in Kwabena Donkor, ed. The Church, Culture and Spirits (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2011), pp. 133-143. He is married to Ruth Kugonza and they have six children and fourteen grandchildren.

Referred to as “God’s Angel to Mount Rwenzori,” Magdalon Eugen (M. E.) Lind, along with his wife Kezia, were pioneer missionaries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to the Rwenzori1 Mountains2 in western Uganda. He was a pastor, director, president, fluent speaker of several African languages, fundraiser, and a generous donor. As missionaries, Magadalon and Kezia were beloved by the people of Uganda and other countries where he worked, including3 Kenya, United Kingdom, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and Lebanon.4

Early Life

M. E. Lind was born to Trygve Nikolai Lind Totland and Hilma Eugenie Hansen in Bergen, Vestland, on the west coast of Norway on June 24, 1910. He was the only child of his parents. His father, a ship engineer, lived from February 29, 1888, to October 1915, when he was killed at the age of 27 by a German sea mine that sank his ship during World War I. International law required the government of Germany to pay the young Lind an annual compensation from the time he was 12 until he reached the age of 30 in 1940.

After the death of his father, Lind lived with his mother and stepfather, Johan Bundjord,5 on the second floor of Markesmuget 2a, in Bergen. Johan was a canvasser of religious books—a trade that influenced Lind to work as a canvasser to earn his school fees. He grew up in Bergen, the largest city on the western coast and the second largest in Norway. Its inhabitants were known for their patriotism to the city and a sense of humor. He and his mother were converted to Adventism in an evangelistic crusade in Bergen around 1922.

School, Ministerial Training, and Marriage

Lind attended primary and secondary schools in Bergen until he was converted to Adventism. After his conversion he attended Onsrud Mission School, an Adventist boarding school near the town of Jessheim in eastern Norway, between 1926 and 1930. It was here that he met his future wife, Kezia Sørbøe, who was born December 17, 1909, in Kragerø on the south coast of Norway.6 He and Kezia were baptized at Onsrud Mission School on April 1, 1927, by Pastor L. Sæbø-Larsen. Between 1930 and 1935, Lind studied theology at Newbold College in England. The two were engaged on July 30, 1932, and were married before the justice of the peace in Bergen, Hordaland, in Norway on June 1, 1935,7 a week before leaving Norway for their first mission service in Africa. Magdalon, a theologian, and Kezia, a registered nurse and physical therapist, had three children who were all born in Uganda: Gerd, born 1936 in Kampala; Elsa, born 1938 also in Kampala; and Leif, who was born in 1952 in Ishaka Mission Hospital, Ankole, Western Uganda.

From 1947 to 1948 Lind pursued a master of arts degree in ministerial training at Emmanuel Missionary College Seminary in Takoma Park, Maryland, USA (which later became Andrews University Seminary in the state of Michigan).

Ministry

Lind started serving the Seventh-day Adventist Church at the age of 21 at Halden, Østfold, Norway. He did his ministerial internship in 1931 and 1932 under the guidance of Pastor J. A. Tillgren and Pastor T. S. Valen. He was fully employed by the church on February 1, 1932.8 His first pastoral position after internship was in Flekkefjord Adventist Church, which had a small, “notorious” membership.9 The place was so challenging that many pastors did not want to work there, so the next pastor who agreed to serve at the same congregation was his own son, Leif Lind, in 1977, after a period of 44 years.10

Magdalon and Kezia received their first missionary service call to Uganda from the Northern European Division with headquarters in Edgware, London, a week after they were married on June 1, 1935.11 Upon arrival in Uganda, they joined the Nchwanga Mission Station,12 which had been established by S. G. Maxwell in 192613 in Mubende district, midwestern Uganda. It was the first Adventist mission station in Uganda and S. G. Maxwell was its first superintendent. He was assisted by Pastor W. W. Armstrong. After S. G. Maxwell departed in 1929, Pastor G. W. Ellingworth14 became the superintendent and was assisted by Rye Andersen.15 In 1930 Pastor V. E. Toppenberg16 became the mission superintendent and was assisted by Rye Andersen and V. Rasmussen. In 1927, the seat of the mission was transferred to Kireka Hill, some 11 kilometers east of Kampala. Nchwanga was a primary school and a ministerial college for school teachers and pastors. In 1948 the school and college were transferred to Bugema. Nevertheless, to this day, the people of western Uganda refer to Seventh-day Adventists as abachwanga,17 meaning “the people of Nchwanga.”

By the time Pastor Lind18 arrived at Nchwanga Mission Station in 1935,19 Uganda had temporarily become a union mission in 1933 under the leadership of Pastor V. E. Toppenberg, with headquarters at Kireka.20 The Uganda Union was again reorganized in the same year as the Upper Nile Union, with headquarters on Kireka Hill.21 The Upper Nile Union included two mission fields, namely, Central Uganda Mission under the leadership of Pastor F. H. Muderspach,22 which covered the kingdoms of Buganda, Bunyoro, and Toro with headquarters at Kireka; and Eastern Uganda Mission under the leadership of Pastor E. R. Andersen,23 covering the districts of Busoga, Budama, Bugwere, Bugishu, and Teso, with headquarters in Mbale.24 Each of the two missions in Uganda had mission stations they supervised. Nchwanga Mission Station was under the Central Uganda Mission.25 Pastor Lind served at Nchwanga with seven African workers for a period of one year.26

In 1936 Pastor Lind was transferred from Nchwanga to the Eastern Uganda Mission, which had been established by Pastor E. R. Andersen in 193227 with headquarters in Mbale. There he served as superintendent28 of the mission as well as director29 of Kakoro Mission Station. At Kakoro, he served with his wife and two African workers, E. Kibuga and E. Rewe.30 Lind started a school and a dispensary at Kakoro.

By 1940 Eastern Uganda Mission was run by a committee composed of Pastor M. E. Lind as mission director; Pastor V. E. Toppenberg as Upper Nile Union president; and I. Kadu. E. Kibuga served as field missionary and H. C. M. Guwedeko as an African licentiate.31 Kakoro was in a hot lowland, with frequent rainfall because of its closeness to Mount Elgon. In 1944 Lind and his family requested to leave Kakoro to pioneer the work in Toro Kingdom, which they had been told had a cool climate throughout the year, with fewer malaria-causing mosquitos. Pastor Lind and his family served in this place up to 1944.32 Their first two children were born while they were working at Kakoro. (Their births took place in Kampala because it had better facilities than Mbale.)

The Lind family moved from Kakoro to Toro in 1944. They established two Rwenzori Mission Stations, the first at Kagorogoro on the Fort Portal-Kampala road, where they built a church and a dispensary in 194533 as they looked for a larger and more strategic piece of land on which to construct the headquarters for the new mission station. Lind made friendship with the king of Toro, Rukirabasaija Sir George David Matthew Kamurasi Rukidi III, who ruled from 1929 to 1965. He asked the king to allocate a hill in Fort Portal town to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as his father Rukirabasaija Daudi Kasagama Kyebambe III, who ruled between 1891 and 1928, had allocated Kabarole Hill to the Anglican Church and Virika to the Roman Catholic Church.34 Pastor Lind wanted to build the church headquarters, a hospital, and a primary and secondary school in the heart of Fort Portal town. The king appreciated the idea and took the proposal to his council—the rukurato. The king’s council refused the idea on the basis that Fort Portal town already had two Christian denominations, as well as Islam, with similar facilities.

The king then allocated his own land at Kazingo in Bukuku subcounty of Burahya County to Pastor Lind. It was on this land that he began preaching the gospel in June 1946. The king told Pastor Lind that the Bakonzo people needed those facilities more than the urban dwellers in Fort Portal, since they were already taken care of by other religious denominations. Kazingo is located at the foot of Mount Rwenzori, the home of the Bakonzo. In October 1946, Lind started constructing a church and a two-grade school with the assistance of Mr. S. Biraro, who was a builder. As the Bakonzo saw a white man for the first time, preaching by reading and interpreting the Bible, they admired him. They flocked from the mountains to attend church services. Others sent their children to school to learn how to read and interpret the Bible as Lind did. Among the first school children to get admission to Kazingo Adventist School were Charles Murwahali, Stanley Mbughirahi, and Johnson Masereka, just to mention a few.35

In 1946, Pastor Lind got news that a white settler by the name of Daniel Fredrick West was selling his tea and coffee estate known as Mitanda Estate.36 Pastor Lind contacted the settler and bought the land. This came to be known as Mitandi Mission at the foothill of the Rwenzori Mountains, about eight kilometers south of Kazingo. After they had secured the land at Kazingo and Mitandi, they continued to stay at Kagorogoro until renovations at Mitandi were completed. In 1948 they moved from Kagorogoro to Mitandi, which became the new headquarters for the Rwenzori Mission Station. It was from this location that Pastor M. E. Lind served the whole of western Uganda, including Bunyooro, Toro, the Rwenzori Mountains, Ankole, and Kigezi.

As of May 2020, the Rwenzori Mission Station has been organized into four independent fields under Uganda Union, namely, Western Uganda Field in Hoima, Midwestern Uganda Mission in Fort Portal, Rwenzori Field in Kasese, and South Western Uganda Field in Mbarara.

Pastor Lind established the church headquarters and built a dispensary and primary school. Most of the buildings were constructed by Mr. S. Biraro, with money donated by Pastor Lind himself. It is at Mitandi that Kezia Lind did a tremendous work of treating people day and night. Later her two daughters, Gerd and Elsa, were also trained as registered nurses and did similar work in the years they spent in Africa (Gerd: 1960-1971 at Mitandi and Kireka; and Elsa: 1961-1963 at Ishaka).

Many of the Bakonzo people were baptized at Mitandi and started going to school like other tribes had been doing since 1910, when the British colonial government signed an agreement with the king of Toro. Those who went back to their home areas established churches and lower-class schools. Churches which were established on and around the mountain and its foothills as a result of Pastor Lind’s evangelistic campaigns in 1948 were: Karangura (where Mr. Kihangire and Stanley Mbughirahi first served as leaders); Mitandi (where Mr. Bamuturaki became the leader); Bunyangabu church, established in 1949 (where Samwiri Muhayirwa and Samwiri Kalisa became the leaders); and Rubona at Burongo (where Samson Rwaheru and Yokonia Bwambale became leaders).

Pastor Lind held other evangelistic meetings on the northern side of the mountains in today’s Bundibugyo district. He preached at Mabere and established a church where Stanley Mbughirahi again became the leader. He thereafter continued at Kikyo, Bumaate, and Kaghughu. Wherever he conducted an evangelistic campaign he established a branch Sabbath school and appointed a leader to take care of the new converts. In 1953 and 1954 he established a church and a school at Mundongo near Bwera, where Mr. Bamuturaki and Andrea Bukombi became leaders and Johnson Masereka became the school teacher. Another church was established at Bubotyo, and Andrea Bukombi was transferred from Mundongo to Bubotyo, leaving Mr. Bamuturaki at Mundongo. Another church was established at Mpondwe by Samwiri Saiba from Congo. There was no school established at Mpondwe in those early days.37

Kezia Lind was a missionary in her own right. In mission stations and fields where her husband served as a church pastor, mission station director, or union or field president, Kezia served as a nurse and physical therapist. She collected and kept the money from patients. Some of the money was used to buy more medicine and dispensary equipment. Some was also used to establish more dispensing centers, as there were no health facilities in and around the mission stations. There were always many patients to attend to. She frequently handled more than 100 cases per day. Those who could not afford to pay were treated and left to go home without paying anything. She traveled around by public bus, visiting various dispensing centers. She worked around the clock and was never personally compensated for her service.38 Some of the money she collected from dispensaries was used to build primary schools, as many children in distant places had no schools to go to.39

In 1954 Pastor Lind was transferred from the Rwenzori Mission Station to Kireka Mission Station in Kampala as its director. He was replaced by Pastor H. E. Kotz as a new director of the Rwenzori Mission Station.40 While in Kampala, he conducted an evangelistic campaign and witnessed and officiated in the conversion and baptism of Dr. Samson Kisekka, who subsequently in the late 1980s and early 1990s became prime minister and vice president of the Republic of Uganda.

In 1954 Lind was transferred from Mitandi to Kireka, after receiving a call to serve as youth and Sabbath School director41 for the Northern European Division in Edgware, North London, a position he held till 1959.42

From London, Pastor and Mrs. Lind returned to Uganda where he became president of the Uganda Mission Field in 1959 and 1960.43

In 1960 Pastor Lind became president of the East African Union,44 with headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. At that time the East African Union was comprised of the countries of Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda, Zanzibar, and the Pemba Islands.45

From 1965 to 1970 Pastor Lind served as the executive secretary46 of the Trans-African Division, with headquarters in Salisbury, Rhodesia, currently known as Harare, Zimbabwe.

Pastor Lind was the first president of the Afro-Mideast Division, with headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, from 197047 to 1974.48 The division was comprised of the East African Union (Kenya and Uganda), Ethiopia Union, Middle East Union, and Tanzania Union. As president, he appointed Pastor Dennis Kaija Bazarra from Toro, Western Uganda, and Pastor Bekele Heye from Ethiopia, as his field secretaries. Both of them later became union presidents of their respective territories.

Later Life 

In 1974 Magdalon and Kezia Lind left the Afro-Mideast Division and retired49 in Norway. After retirement Pastor Lind was employed part-time as a pastor of the largest Adventist congregation in Norway, the Bethel Church in Oslo. Thereafter, he and his wife moved to Clinton, Massachusetts, USA, to be near their daughter Gerd’s family from 1976 to 1980. Gerd was married to Pastor Robert Pifer, another long-serving missionary to the Rwenzori Mission Station and Uganda Field.

In April 1979 while he was still living in Massachusetts, the General Conference requested Pastor Lind to return to Uganda for a short reconnaissance trip to determine how the church in Uganda was doing after the overthrow of President Idi Amin.

After almost five years of living in the United States, Pastor and Mrs. Lind returned to Tveita, Oslo, Norway, where they lived from 1980 to 1985. At this time, though officially retired, he was frequently requested to speak at church meetings in Norway and Denmark. In December 1983 Magdalon and Kezia Lind made their last trip to Uganda and Kenya. Together, with the company of Pastor Christian Allideki, they climbed Mitandi Hill in the Rwenzori Mountains for their last time.

At the age of 74, on March 25, 1985, Magdalon Lind died of a sudden heart attack in Tveita, Oslo, Norway. He was buried at Østre Aker Graveyard in Oslo. Many years later, his wife Kezia Sørbøe Lind, died at the age of 103 on July 24, 2013, in Sandefjord, Norway. She was buried beside her husband in Oslo.

Legacy

The statement, “God’s Angel to Mount Rwenzori,” says it all. Magdalon and Kezia Lind are remembered by the people of Mount Rwenzori and its neighboring regions of Bunyoro, Toro, Ankole, and Kigezi for their selfless sacrifice to serve in Africa before the continent had road networks, hospitals, shops, and other conveniences to make one wish to work in the area. Like the Angel Gabriel, they preached the gospel in simple terms and actions. People were taught how to read and write before they were baptized. They were encouraged to buy Bibles and use them in the baptism classes in order to familiarize themselves with Bible doctrines.

Pastor and Mrs. Lind were the pioneer missionaries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to the Rwenzori50 Mountains of Uganda. To the people of Rwenzori, Magdalon and Kezia were missionaries par excellence. The family contacted the Ugandan people before they were civilized, yet they prayed and ate with them, regardless of their status or faith. They spoke local languages to reach out to people. They took time to visit people in their homes. They gave their children local names. For example, on Mount Rwenzori, Lind’s daughter Gerd was given the name Musoki, meaning the “first born girl child;” Elsa was called Biira, meaning the “second girl child;” Leif was called Muhindo, meaning the “first boy child who comes after a girl;” Magdalon was called Isemusoki, meaning “father of Musoki,” and Kezia was called Nyamusoki, meaning the “mother of Musoki.” They took up these names and used them with pride. They fit into the society. They behaved as if they were part of the society in which they worked. They were available at all times. They respected all they came in contact with, whether young or old, believers or non-believers. They remembered their flock even after leaving a particular mission field. They remained part of the community. To date, the people of Mount Rwenzori still recall the Lind family as part of their community because their actions spoke more than words.

They started a school where many young people from the region came to study. People who studied at the Junior School the Lind family established at Mitandi have served as pastors, church elders, lay preachers, teachers, health workers, university professors, and administrators in various parts of Uganda and abroad.

Pastor Lind and his family are remembered as models of Adventist preachers, teachers, and medical workers. In the African countries and Scandinavia where they worked, Pastor Lind is remembered as a dynamic speaker and one with an exemplary personality. He was known as one of the best storytellers in the denomination and was highly respected for his administrative skills at all levels of church organization. Kezia Lind served as a model health worker. She attended to the sick anytime, anywhere she was called to attend to a patient. She ministered to the rich and the poor. Her professional dedication and ethics inspired young people to work in the medical profession.

Sources

Lind, Kezia. Africa Called us. Norway: Sandefjord, 2013.

Stanley, Henry M. In Darkest Africa. vol. 2. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. 1927-1973. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Notes

  1. Originally, the Bakonzo people called the Rwenzorii Mountains “Rwenzururu” meaning “land covered with snow.” According to the explorer Henry Stanley, just as he came near to the mountains on January 11, 1889, “Rwenzorii, called already Bugombowa, Avirika, and Viruka, by the forest tribes, came now to be known as Rwenzu-ru-ru or Rwenjura…” Henry M. Stanley, In Darkest Africa (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913, Copyright, 1890), vol. 2, 284.

  2. The Rwenzori Mountains were referred to by the Greeks as the Mountains of the Moon. To this day geography books also refer to the same as the Mountains of the Moon.

  3. Pastor Leif Lind, the son of Magdalon and Kezia Lind, e-mail message to the author, May 2, 2020.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Ibid.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Source for marriage record: https://media.digitalarkivet.no/view/37640/52?indexing=/ downloaded May 2, 2020.

  8. Retirement Letter to M. E. Lind, of 1983, in the family files as reported by the son, Pastor Leif Lind, May 2, 2020.

  9. Pastor Leif Lind, the son of Magdalon and Kezia Lind, e-mail message to the author, May 2, 2020.

  10. Ibid.

  11. Kezia Lind, Africa Called Us (Norway: Sandefjord, 2013), 66.

  12. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1936, 172.

  13. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1927, 148-149.

  14. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1929, 142.

  15. Ibid.

  16. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1930, 214.

  17. People of Ankole and Toro refer to Seventh-day Adventists as the People of Nchwanga.

  18. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1936, 172.

  19. Lind, 66.

  20. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1933, 156.

  21. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1936, 171-172.

  22. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1935, 160.

  23. Ibid., 160-161.

  24. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1936, 171-172.

  25. Ibid., 172.

  26. Ibid.

  27. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1934, 157-158.

  28. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1938, 167.

  29. Ibid.

  30. Ibid.

  31. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1940, 173.

  32. Lind, 66.

  33. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1950, 179.

  34. Johnson B. Masereka, interview with the author at Kireka, July 15, 2019.

  35. Ibid.

  36. The land title for Mitandi Estate read Mitanda Estate. The word Mitanda is a Lukonzo word but the word Mitandi has no meaning. Possibly the word Mitandi is a corruption of the word Mitanda.

  37. Pastor Johnson B. Masereka, interview with the author, July 15, 2019.

  38. Ibid.

  39. Family files, op. cit.

  40. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1954, 186.

  41. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1956, 126.

  42. Ibid.

  43. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1960, 176.

  44. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1961, 175.

  45. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1960, 173.

  46. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1965-1966, 249.

  47. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1971, 97.

  48. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1973-1974, 93.

  49. Lind, 66.

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Balyage, Yona, Nathaniel Mumbere Walemba. "Lind, Magdalon Eugen (1910–1985) and Kezia (1909–2013)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. June 01, 2020. Accessed August 03, 2020. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AFD9.

Balyage, Yona, Nathaniel Mumbere Walemba. "Lind, Magdalon Eugen (1910–1985) and Kezia (1909–2013)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. June 01, 2020. Date of access August 03, 2020, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AFD9.

Balyage, Yona, Nathaniel Mumbere Walemba (2020, June 01). Lind, Magdalon Eugen (1910–1985) and Kezia (1909–2013). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved August 03, 2020, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AFD9.