AMURIA, UGANDA (BP) – Islamic extremists ambushed a church leader in eastern Uganda this month after a sheikh sent to assassinate him during worship instead accepted Christ, sources told Morning Star News. Sunni Muslim extremists had sent the sheikh, an Islamic teacher trained in Islamic proselytization, to the Pentecostal Upright Church to kill pastor George Edweu. But during Edweu's sermon on hearing and understanding the voice of God, the power of the Gospel convicted the sheik of sin, Edweu said.
News of the former sheikh's conversion shocked the community, and the 24-year-old newly converted Christian went into hiding. He, his wife and two children, ages 2 and 4, took refuge at an undisclosed location. A month later on Jan 2, Muslims ambushed Edweu when he arrived for a devotion at the church in Amuria, about 170 miles north of Kampala. Six masked men grabbed Edweu and demanded that he reveal the whereabouts of the sheikh. Some of the gang began slapping and kicking Edweu; others hit him with sticks. "As I fell down, a vehicle with bright lights flashed, which scared them away, and they disappeared into the nearby bush," Edweu told Morning Star. "The vehicle arrived and took me into the church compound. Inside the church building we found a letter with a threatening message: 'We are going to destroy your church unless you show us where name withheld is.'"
Area Muslims have reportedly been announcing the conversion weekly as they gather for mosque prayers. A local Christian resident told Morning Star News that on Fridays he has heard over the mosque loudspeaker, "Name withheld needs to die for forsaking Islam." When converted, the sheik had rushed up to the podium and fell at the feet of Edweu, who stopped preaching and questioned the young man. As tears rolled down the sheikh's cheeks, he answered, "I was sent to come and attack, to kill the pastor and destroy the church," according to the pastor.
The Muslim repented in front of the congregation, Edweu prayed for him, and the would-be assassin put his faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, the pastor said. Since the ambush, Edweu and his congregation fear more persecution could be imminent. The ambush was the latest in a series of anti-Christian attacks in eastern Uganda. Also in eastern Uganda, Muslim relatives of 24-year-old Sandra Summaya coerced her into taking poison at a New Year's celebration, she said, because she accepted Christ at a Christmas worship service. Muslims in eastern Uganda beat Christians at a Christmas worship service and wrecked the home of a single mother on Christmas Eve, sources said.
This past December, relatives of a former Islamic teacher attacked his 60-year-old mother for becoming a Christian, wounding her head and breaking her hand, sources said. Aimuna Namutongi sustained a deep cut on her forehead. She and her son Malik Higenyi, whom Muslim relatives had beaten unconscious on Nov. 13 after he made a public profession of faith in Christ, managed to escape the attackers in December. Namutongi had been converted through her son's testimony, a local source said. Villagers recounted isolated attacks dating back to last June.
About 85 percent of the people in Uganda are Christian and 11 percent Muslim, with some eastern areas having large Muslim populations. The country's constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one's faith and convert from one faith to another, but Christians in eastern Uganda are suffering continual attacks by non-state figures.
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Morning Star News is a California-based independent news service focusing on the persecution of Christians worldwide.