Uganda Archive

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Doctors Try to Save Remaining Eye of Ugandan Pastor After Acid Attack

Another pastor, close friend of victim of acid attack, is also ambushed

NAIROBI, Kenya, February 28 (Compass Direct News) – While a Ugandan pastor was fighting to retain sight in his remaining eye after an acid attack, Muslim extremists this month were shooting at his close friend, a leader of another church.

Doctors at Sheba Hospital in Tel-Aviv, Israel, are still not sure what kind of chemicals Muslim extremists cast on Bishop Umar Mulinde of Gospel Life Church International outside of Kampala last Christmas Eve, but they know that the acid is threatening the vision in his remaining eye.

“I am regaining my sight, though the healing progress is a bit slow,” Mulinde told Compass by phone. “Doctors are still looking for ways to save it, but it seems a complicated case. The chemical was very strong, and each day it was going deeper, with pain increasing day by day; even the doctors are interested to know which type of acid it was, because it really did great damage to me.”

Mulinde, a former sheikh (Islamic teacher) who became the target of Islamic extremists after converting to Christianity in 1993, said his left eye has been getting better under the specialized treatment he has been able to receive since Compass publicized the attack on him.

“The damaged right eye is somehow affecting the left eye,” Mulinde said. “The doctors are thinking of removing the right eye with hope of saving the left eye.”

Muslim extremists are opposed not only to his conversion from Islam but his outspoken opposition to sharia (Islamic law) courts in Uganda, he said. On Oct. 15, 2011, area Muslim leaders declared a fatwa against him demanding his death. He is known for debates locally and internationally in which he often challenges Muslims regarding their religion.

Mulinde said he was encouraged that ministry is continuing at his church in Namasuba, about 10 kilometers (six miles) outside of Kampala, though his friend Zachariah Serwadda, a pastor with an Evangel Church congregation, was ambushed on Feb. 4 after an evangelistic outreach in the predominantly Muslim town of Mbale.

Serwadda, who has been attacked by Islamic extremists before, told Compass he was not sure how many began firing guns at his car at 10:30 p.m.

“I only heard several voices as I dropped down when the windshield of my vehicle got broken,” said Serwadda, who was unhurt in the attack. “It could be the same group [that attacked Mulinde]. It seems it’s the same network, because after attacking Bishop Mulinde they threw down letters at the Gospel Life Church International there threatening to attack other preachers like him.”

The attack took place on Tirinyi Road, between Mbale and Kamonkole, he said. Three other Christians were with him at the time. Since the Feb. 4 attack, the only security precaution he has taken was to report the incident at Iganga police station, he said.

Serwadda said there seems to be a new wave of persecution against Christians in Uganda. Besides Mulinde, also attacked last year were church leaders Hassan Muwanguzi and Hassan Sharif Lubenga, he said, and there were two other serious incidents, one in 2010 and one in 2009.

“In 2010 pastor Jamada Kikomeko of Nateete Victory Church was attacked during a gospel outreach in Entebbe town – bullets were shot with intent to assassinate him while he was returning from the outreach that night,” he said. “He managed to escape, took his coat and ran on foot for safety.”

The assailants vandalized his car, smashing all the windshields, he added.

In 2009, evangelist Yazid Muwanguzi was assaulted in Nakaloke, in Mbale district, barely escaping with his life after Muslims attacked chanting “Allahu Akbar [Arabic for “God is greater”], Serwadda said.

“But some Christians were severely injured,” he said.

Serwadda also survived a barrage of gunfire in 1997. A Muslim extremist tried to stop him as he was coming home from an evangelistic outreach in Jinja, but Serwadda saw an armed group standing on both sides of the road, he said; refusing to stop, he drove through as 20 bullets struck his vehicle.

He called his survival “miraculous.”

– Doctors Try to Save Remaining Eye of Ugandan Pastor, Simba Tian, Compass Direct News, Feb. 28, 2012 — © Compass Direct News. Published in Religion News Blog by permission.

Ugandan Teenager Tortured for Becoming a Christian Regaining Use of Legs

Released from hospital, Susan Ithungu takes steps with support.

BWERA, Uganda, January 16 (Compass Direct News) – A 15-year-old Christian girl in western Uganda who lost the use of her legs after her father locked her in a room for six months for leaving Islam has begun to take tentative steps.

Susan Ithungu of Isango village, Kasese district, had been hospitalized since September 2010 after neighbors along with police rescued her from her father, Beya Baluku, who had given her hardly any food or water. He was arrested shortly afterward but quickly released. She and her younger brother, Mbusa Baluku, lived alone with their father, who was divorced from their mother.

Susan Ithungu
Susan Ithungu
© Compass Direct News

In March 2010, Susan had trusted Christ for her salvation – prompting her father to threaten to slaughter her publicly with a knife. Pastor Joseph Baluku of Bwera Full Gospel Church in Kasese said neighbors who discovered that the girl was locked in a room with almost no food or water notified authorities.

After her release, they took her to a hospital on Sept. 6, 2010. She would not be discharged from hospital care until Oct. 19, 2011.

After Compass published her ordeal on Aug. 11, 2011, several individuals and ministries came forward to help her (see, “Girl in Uganda Loses Use of Legs after Leaving Islam for Christ,” Aug. 11, 2011). She now lives in a rented house in an undisclosed location.

“Well-wishers have been paying the house rent and buying me food and clothing,” said Susan, who added that she has forgiven her father.

A member of the Bwera Full Gospel Church in Kasese, Biira Dreda, left her own four children under the care of her mother in order to look after Susan while she was hospitalized.

“It is now becoming difficult to meet the school fees for my own children,” Dreda said. “I am praying to get some little funds so as to start an income generating project.”

A member of a Pentecostal church, Susan has begun to walk with support. She cannot squat or stand upright because she lay on one side for such a long time, besides suffering a bout of malaria.

“I thank all those who have continually supported me spiritually, materially and even morally,” Susan said. “I am also thankful to Biira Dreda, who stood by me in the hospital, and to date she is still with me when none of my family members has come to see me. I now take Dreda as my mother because of her care and love. My own people have abandoned me.”

Jacob Mukobi, who works with Uganda police as a child protection volunteer, was tipped off that Susan had been locked up in the house for six months.

“When I got the horrifying message about Susan that she had been put under house arrest for converting to Christianity, I went with the police to the house on Sept. 6, 2010 and took her to Bwera hospital,” he said.

Her father, he said, is not ready to take her back.

“A neighbor heard Susan’s father saying that she will be accepted back to the family only if she recants the Christian faith and rejoins Islam,” he said.

When Mukobi asked Susan’s father about his mistreatment of her, he said only that he was upset by her conversion to Christianity, Mukobi said.

“I do not like my daughter calling herself Susan and leaving her Muslim name, Aisha,” Mukobi said Baluku told him.

On Oct. 22, 2010, Susan was referred to Kagando hospital, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Bwera. Six months later, she was referred to Curso hospital in Kampala. She still could not walk. Surgeons operated on both her thighs, but as a doctor tried to stretch her leg, one thigh bone was so weak that it broke.

She returned to Kagando hospital after two weeks, but with her condition deteriorating, after two months she was referred to Kilembe hospital, about eight kilometers (five miles) from Kasese.

Though she has had to drop out of school, she said she hopes to return this year.

“I am now able to handle a pen and write,” she told Compass late last year. “I am able to sit down for at least one hour, and I hope by next year it will be much better, enough to enable me go to school.”

Pastor Baluku said that “many Good Samaritans” came to her aid.

“Susan at the moment needs a balanced diet to strengthen her weak bones, so that she can go to school soon,” he added.

– Ugandan Girl Tortured for Christ Regaining Use of Legs, Simba Tian, Compass Direct News, Jan. 16, 2012 — © Compass Direct News. Published in Religion News Blog by permission.