Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Man gives life to Jesus at Ugandan student's funeral - Open Doors UK & Ireland
24 July 2023

Man gives life to Jesus at Ugandan student's funeral

A devastating attack by Islamic militants on a school in Uganda has left at least 40 children killed and six abducted. Please pray for all who are mourning this atrocity - and give thanks for a man who heard the gospel at Amina's funeral and chose to follow Jesus.

At least 40 people have been killed in a prolonged attack on a predominantly Christian secondary school (image is illustrative)

There has been a bittersweet update to the appalling attack on a predominantly-Christian school in Uganda last month, in which at least 40 people were murdered (see original story, below). At the funeral of one of the students who was killed, a man chose to commit his life to Jesus! Of course, the deaths are still a terrible tragedy - but it is encouraging that God is bringing something good out of this evil.

Amina's courageous faith

Amina grew up in a Muslim home, and she and her mother were abandoned by their wider family when they chose to become Christians last year. They were taken in by the church after their family chased them from their home. They were cared for by their local church, with support from Open Doors partners. Even at the church, they continued to face many challenges including threats from the family and difficulty to meet their basic needs.

Amina was just 15 years old when she was one of 37 students killed by Islamic militant group ADF in the attack. Her body was found in the nearby forest, over the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Ugandan army was searching for the militants. A funeral service was held at the Kibwe Anglican Church, where Amina used to worship.

A new believer

At the funeral service, the church leader bravely preached the good news of Jesus to the family and community members present, many of whom are Muslims. One of these men heard the words, and had already been questioning his faith in the wake of the attack. He chose to give his life to Jesus.

He has already received death threats, since this courageous decision, and it wouldn't be safe for us to reveal any other details about his identity. But he knows he is taking a risk that is worth it. “I have been told that I cannot be on the earth and must be killed," he says. "I fear as a human, but I am trusting Jesus to guide me. For me, even if they kill me, I will be in heaven with Amina."

Join us in praising and thanking God for bringing this man to faith, and for bringing good out of this atrocity.

Open Doors partners offer encouragement 

An Open Doors local partner recently visited Kasese to offer encouragement, prayer and fellowship. While there, they visited a school near the one which was attacked, where young Christians were singing and praising God. One of the songs includes the lyrics: "I will continue proclaiming that which concerns Your name Jesus; even if I die, I will resurrect in You."

Elsewhere in the neighbourhood, though, Christians remain understandably afraid. “There is great fear among Christians of this church, but we hope God will continue to counsel everyone,” said Pastor Mirundu of St Luke Kibwe Church. Four members of his church were killed in the attack. "The few who come to church stay standing during the service because of fear that anything can happen any time. Christians are still in fear and some of them are still in hiding."

But Pastor Mirundu is gradually seeing change. “Today, the number of those who attended the church service has at least raised a little. God is still in control. I therefore request our friends from within and outside Uganda to continue praying for us."

Christian students targeted in horrific Uganda attack

19 June 2023

A neighbour reports hearing students at Uganda’s Lhubiriha Secondary School singing gospel songs shortly before a horrific attack that left at least 40 people dead, mostly children. The sustained attack was carried out at the predominantly Christian school by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamic militant group with links to so-called Islamic State (IS).

Christian students killed and abducted

In the late hours of Friday evening, at least five ADF militants attacked the school in Mpondwe, less than two kilometres from the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Open Doors local sources share that at least 42 people, mainly boys from the school, were killed, and others remain critically injured. Several students were abducted and forced to carry looted food supplies towards Virunga National Park, across the border in DRC.

Local contacts add that most, if not all, of the students at the school are Christians. The children were killed in machete attacks and in arson on a boys’ dormitory.

The woman who lives next to the school, Mary Masika, shared with the BBC that she heard two attackers talking at her gate towards the end of their 90-minute assault – asking if ‘the job was done’. They began shouting “Allahu Akbar” (‘God is most great’), and one of them said, “We have succeeded in destabilising Museveni’s country.” Yoweri Museveni has been Uganda’s president since 1986.

Open Doors partners visit grieving families

Open Doors local partners have so far been able to visit two families who lost loved ones in the attack, including a family who were already receiving Open Doors' support. These partners have not yet been permitted to visit survivors in hospital, but have been on the school grounds to document the terrible scene.

"For years now the Christian dominated communities in northeastern DRC have suffered immensely under the brutality of the Islamic militant ADF group with insufficient international attention to their plight," says Jo Newhouse*, Open Doors' spokesperson for work in sub-Saharan Africa. "The ease with which the militants crossed the border to Uganda and callously attacked some of the most vulnerable in society is a huge concern and serves as urgent alert to the agenda of the group to expand their influence and footprint.

"Security in the area has been stepped up but Open Doors partners are on the ground and ministering to affected people as far as circumstances allow. This attack only strengthens our efforts to raise awareness, prayer and support for the body of Christ that are affected by the growing violent militancy in sub-Saharan Africa."

ADF’s increasing violence

Uganda is number 69 on the Open Doors World Watch List. Though persecution worsened slightly in the past year, it is still currently outside of the top 50 countries where following Jesus comes with the most persecution – but would be at number 15, if countries were ranked solely by violent persecution. It is only outside the top 50 because persecution in other areas of life (e.g. from the government) is relatively low.

The school is very close to DRC, number 37 on the World Watch List, where violence against Christians is extremely high and continues to grow. The ADF is responsible for many of these attacks, and has been violently persecuting Christians in DRC for decades.

The ADF was originally formed in 1995 to fight Museveni’s Ugandan government. They’re now mostly active in the North Kivu Province, near the border with Uganda. While ADF’s leader was captured in April 2015, it doesn’t appear to have diminished their strength. “The ADF’s ability to merge with civilian communities allows them to lie low when necessary, and to re-emerge when conditions are more favourable,” said Michael Mutyaba, a Ugandan researcher and political analyst. “This explains why it’s proving resilient.”

"They have gone on a rampage"

For years, ADF’s link with Islamic militants was debated – but the group pledged allegiance to IS in 2019. A UN spokesperson, Babar Baloch, commented that, “Since the beginning of the year [2023], they have gone on a rampage in terms of raiding villages, killing civilians, kidnapping people, leaving people injured behind and the consequences are really, really clear on the desperate population who have to flee, in cases many times from each location to another.”

Open Doors estimates that 300 people have been killed in ADF attacks in North Kivu Province since the beginning of 2023, most of them Christians. This is on top of other attacks outside the province, such as this recent atrocity in Uganda. It is symptomatic of the increasing violence in sub-Saharan Africa – 14 Christians are killed for their faith every day in Nigeria, but many of the countries across this wide region are experiencing escalating violence.

Addressing concerned locals, Major General Olum said, “We have got information that the rebels spent two nights here before they raided the school. We have sent for choppers [helicopters] to be deployed in our search and the rescue operation for the students who were abducted.” Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) remains committed to its mandate to protect the people of Uganda and their property, said UPDF spokesperson, Brigadier General Felix Kulayigye. The UPDF, alongside DRC’s national army, have spent almost two years pursuing the ADF in a joint operation.

Your prayers are desperately needed for the grieving community in Mpondwe. Please keep lifting them up, as they mourn their loved ones.

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  • For all who are grieving to know the power of God’s loving care
  • For the abducted students to safely and quickly return home
  • For security forces and political decision makers to be granted wisdom in combatting this violence
  • That ADF militants would, like Paul in Acts, be convicted of the evil of their deeds, repent and choose to follow Christ.
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  • Every £42 could give hope and healing at a trauma centre to three Christians who have experienced extreme violence.


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