NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Muslims in eastern Uganda sent a Christian mother to the hospital with injuries from a beating in one village and tore down a church building in another, sources said.
Both the woman and the pastor of the destroyed church building fear their lives could be in danger.
Deborah Gimbo of Budaka town was attacked the afternoon of Dec. 20 while praying by herself in her home. She prays three evenings a week in her home with two other Christian women, and the assailants told her they did not want them praying loudly in Jesus’ name, Gimbo told Morning Star News.
“Today we have come to warn you that you should avoid noisy prayers and the use of Issa [Jesus] in your prayers,” the four assailants said as they intruded into her home at 2 p.m., according to Gimbo.
A local sheikh (teacher) had instructed the assailants that people who pray in Jesus’ name should be fought and pressured until they accept only worship of Allah, or else be killed, she said.
“I said, ’I cannot stop praying, and more so, Issa is my Lord and Savior, and I will continue praying in His name,’” Gimbo told Morning Star News. “Immediately two of the intruders left the house, and in no time entered the room again with sticks and started beating me. I was hit on my face, and blood started flowing down my face as I started shouting for help.”
Neighbors arrived and rescued her, taking her to a Budaka District hospital. She was discharged after two days, she said.
The intruders were identified as Satiya, Ariziki, Mariam and Yahaya.
Neither Gimbo nor her husband, who was away in Somalia on a six-month stint as part of a U.N. peacekeeping force at the time of the attack, are converts from Islam.
Some 25 kilometers (15 miles) away in Kibuku District, a former Muslim fears for his life after villagers in the Kibenga area, Lyama parish in Kakutu Sub-County, tore down the building of the church he leads.
Simon Mustafa Waseke had turned to Christ in 2017 and soon found he had a congregation to lead after many Muslims accepted his message of repentance from sin and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation. Kibenga is a predominantly Muslim area.
“Having many followers from those who had left Islam, I decided to put up a church building, and many converts from Islam joined the church – in just a few months, the number rose to 35 members,” Pastor Waseke told Morning Star News. “This made the Muslims to be against the church.”
Villagers led by an imam identified only as Yuba on Oct. 10 pulled down the building of Christian Family Church at 5:30 a.m., he said.
“A gang of radical Muslims entered the church compound,” he said, “and pulled down the church building while shouting ‘Allah Akbar [God is Greater, a jihadist slogan], away with this church and Pastor Mustafa Waseke. No more prayers in this place, or else you will all lose your lives,’ and in no time the church was on its ground.”
A secret Christian who has contact with the area Muslim community has informed the pastor that the assailants are threatening to kill him unless he leaves the area, so he does not dare bring legal action against them.
“Even if am given police protection, I am not sure of the security of my members of the church, who are now very fearful,” Pastor Waseke said. “I am at a crossroads of not knowing what to do. My church members are scattered like sheep without a shepherd. Soon their faith in Christ will diminish, and they will possibly return to Islam.”
Neither he nor anyone from his congregation goes near the church site, he said.
“The Muslims are now out to kill me and my family – we are having sleepless nights,” he told Morning Star News. “How long are we going to hide ourselves from our enemies of Christianity? Please pray for us.”
The attacks were the latest of many cases of persecution of Christians in eastern Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.
Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.
Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population.