Ugandan pastor attacked by Muslims heals in Israel

January 30, 2012 by  
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Ugandan pastor attacked by Muslims heals in IsraelUganda, January 28, 2012: “I am teaching my people about Israel, along with encouraging them to visit the country.”

It is last Christmas Eve. Pastor Umar Mulinde leaves a service at his thriving congregation, the 1,000-member Gospel Life Church International in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. He’s anxious to get home to his wife and six children. As he unlocks his car, an unknown man approaches and calls out, “Pastor! Pastor!” As Mulinde turns, a burning acid splashes across his face, and the shouts turn to “Allahu akbar!” (Allah is greater!) The assailant flees.

Some church workers rush Mulinde to the local hospital, where they treat his severe wounds the best they can. A few days later, he is flown to India, and then on January 5 he arrives at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, to be cared for by one of the world’s foremost hospitals for burn victims.

The Christian Edition visited Mulinde in his hospital room a few days later, to find out more about his condition and why he was attacked. It appears he was targeted by local Muslim extremists because he had converted from Islam, became a minister of the Gospel, and started teaching love for Israel.

The top-notch doctors at Sheba have determined that Mulinde will require a series of skin repair operations over several weeks, as well as an operation on his badly damaged right eye. They are treating him as an Israeli victim of terror, which covers his medical procedures. They hope to save his sight in the right eye and restore his appearance as best as possible. Mulinde could not ask for better care.

“I was born into a large Muslim family. I am the 52nd child of my father, who had several wives and ran two mosques,” Mulinde began. “I grew up studying Islam, but at age 18 I met some Christians who opened my eyes to the Christian faith. I soon converted.”

Mulinde explained that as a Muslim, he and his friends were taught to hate Israel and the Jews, even though they could not find Israel on a map. Even as a young Christian convert, he was hesitant about loving Israel. But as he studied the Bible, he read much about the wonderful God of Israel.

“I decided if I was going to love this God, I also had to love His people. I began teaching myself and realized the importance of supporting Israel. One key source for my Israel studies was Jerusalem Online University, based on the Web.”

Today, Mulinde’s ministry is regularly organizing pro-Israel rallies and conferences in Uganda. One such event recently drew 5,000 people to the Nakivubo football stadium in Kampala.

“I am teaching my people about Israel, along with encouraging them to visit the country. Many have developed a strong interest in Israel,” he assured.

Muslims make up only 12 percent of the Ugandan population, but they recently pushed for adopting Shari’a law in the parliament. Mulinde helped lobby against it, saying he believes in coexistence, but “wherever there is strict Shari’a rule, there is hatred of Israel and persecution of Christians.”

On the day he was attacked, Mulinde had preached at a crusade where more than 300 people came to faith in Jesus, including many Muslims. And on Monday after the attack, he was going to show a film about how the tiny nation of Israel has assisted many nations.

Since the assault, Mulinde and his wife, Evelyn, have received prayers and support from all over the world.

But he is especially grateful to the Jerusalem Online University and its director, Andrea Gottlieb, along with Illan Sharon, a Jewish acquaintance from Minnesota, who made it possible for him to come for treatments in Israel. He also is glowing about the doctors and nurses at the Sheba Medical Center.

“When you are sick, and full of wounds and pain, I believe that relationships with people also contribute to your healing. The way I am able to talk to these people here is a healing medicine for the heart. I really feel at home.”

Mulinde is already amped to return to Uganda, as soon as the doctors allow, and resume his work for the Kingdom of God and for Israel. Meanwhile, back in Uganda, the search for Mulinde’s attackers is in the national headlines every day.

– jerusalem post

Christians in Uganda demand protection from Muslim extremists

January 23, 2012 by  
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Umar MulindeUganda, January 18, 2012: Islam devotees go on defense after acid attack on preacher. A Pentecostal preacher who has converted thousands of Muslims to Christianity was disfigured when men shouting “God is great” in Arabic threw acid in his face in a Christmas Eve attack that has stoked religious tensions here.

The victim, Umar Mulinde, is a Muslim convert to Christianity and now a vocal critic of Islam. He is also a key figure in opposing the establishment of Islamic civil courts in this majority Christian country.

Christians say the attack on Mr. Mulinde is symbolic of the government’s failure to protect Christians from Muslim extremists, even in a country whose population is 85 percent Christian. They say Muslims refuse to accept the concept of religious freedom, especially the right to choose how one worships.

Mainstream Muslims say they practice a tolerant version of Islam and that violent thugs like the ones who attacked Mr. Mulinde do not represent them.

Muslims make up 12 percent of the population of 35 million in this East African nation.

“The main point of contention between Muslims and Christians in Uganda is that Muslims are yet to embrace the reality of freedom of worship or coexistence, but Muslims always think that any person who doesn’t believe like them is an enemy who deserves to be killed,” said Mr. Mulinde’s wife, Evelyn, also a former Muslim.

Bishop David Kiganda of the National Fellowship of Born Again Pentecostal Churches called the attack on Mr. Mulinde a “terrorism act that the government should take seriously.”

Nsereko Mutumba, a spokesman for the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council in Kampala, said some Christian leaders are using the attack on Mr. Mulinde as an opportunity to promote themselves as defenders of Christianity.

He insisted that most Muslims in Uganda are tolerant of religious conversions, unlike Muslims in many Islamic countries where converts face death sentences.

“Muslims here don’t care what religion one decides to be,” Mr. Mutumba said.

Ssekito Abdulhakim, general secretary of the Makerere University Muslim Students Association, said Muslim-Christian tensions are rising mainly because both Muslims and Christians have become more active in conversion efforts.

Muslim and Christian speakers often hold public debates and try to convert members of the audience. Each speaker will claim his religion is the one true word of God.

Joshua Kitakule, secretary-general of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, called those forums divisive.

“These debates are not respectful and healthy. They’re built on saying one is right, the other is wrong. That offends,” he said.

“Preach your gospel as is, and if people like it, they will convert. But there’s no need to disrespect the other.”

Mr. Mulinde, with extensive knowledge of both the Koran and the Bible, was active and persuasive in many of those debates. He has received death threats and narrowly escaped attempts on his life several times from Muslims who do not share Uganda’s reputation for tolerance.

“I have been receiving several threats for a long time, and this last one is the worst of all,” he told Uganda’s Compass news service in a hospital interview shortly after the attack.

“I have bore the marks of Jesus,” he said.

Mr. Mulinde, a 38-year-old father of six, described the attacker who threw acid onto his face as a man pretending to be a Christian. The attacker approached Mr. Mulinde after the Christmas Eve service at his Gospel Life Church International, about 10 miles outside of Kampala.

“I heard him say in a loud voice, ‘Pastor, pastor,’ and as I made a turn and looked at him, he poured the liquid onto my face,” Mr. Mulinde said.

Mr. Mulinde said the man fled, shouting, “Allah akbar,” or “God is great.”

The attack disfigured the right side of his face and left him blind in his right eye.

“I was born into a Muslim family and, although I decided to become a Christian, I have been financially assisting many Muslims, as well as my relatives who are Muslims,” he told Compass.

“I have been conducting a peaceful evangelism campaign.”

Police suspect the attack might have been the result of a dispute between Mr. Mulinde and the family that sold him the land where he built his church. They arrested one suspect but released him after he established an alibi. No other arrests have been made.

Religious conversions also have gone from Christian to Muslim, especially in once celebrated case.

Uganda’s most popular musician, Jose Chameleone, converted to Islam in August and changed his name to Gaddafi before converting back to Catholicism amid an outcry from his family and fans.

Many suspect the conversion was a publicity stunt to promote a new album, but he managed to offend followers of both faiths.

So far, Muslims and Christians here have avoided widespread violence like that in Nigeria, where the Islamist group Boko Haram killed 35 people on Christmas Day.

Advocates of religious freedom emphasize the need for vigilance.

The central Buganda Kingdom underwent an outbreak of bloody Muslim-Christian conflicts beginning the 1880s, and suspicions have lingered.

After independence, dictator Idi Amin converted to Islam, and Muslims suffered revenge attacks after his ouster in 1979.

Mr. Mulinde grabbed attention more than 10 years ago by defying an Islamic dietary law against eating pork. After converting to Christianity, he reportedly donned a Muslim skullcap, slaughtered a pig and ate it with other converts.

Before the acid attack, Mr. Muline led a campaign to block the Ugandan legislature from allowing Muslims to bring legal action under Islamic law in civil courts.

The courts would have had jurisdictions over marriage, divorce and inheritance matters.

– washington times