The Making of a Disciple
In 1992 during my high school years, I began hearing people talk about “getting saved.” Christians were coming to my school in Kampala preaching that we all needed to confess Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. But for me, they were sowing their seed on hard rock. My response was: “I will never abandon my dad’s religion. I was born into a Catholic family, and that is where I am meant to be!” The idea of “getting saved” sounded stupid to me, just as the scriptures say, “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
In 1996, my close cousin, Stephen, got saved and was on fire for Christ. At this point, he and I were two people with differing beliefs. Each time we met, we argued over salvation. At times people would gather around and listen to us debate. Surprisingly, Stephen was an illiterate with only two years of primary school. However, he had a great ability to memorize scriptures. For an entire year we met together in his home where he would ask me to read a scripture and then explain it to me. Whatever he told me about Jesus Christ, in my ignorance, I argued against it, just like the Bible says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
Although I argued with Stephen and never showed any sign of becoming a disciple, he never gave up sharing the gospel with me. He was sowing the seed, and the Spirit of God was at work within me. I couldn’t help reflecting on our discussions and on the boldness with which Stephen spoke the Word of God. When I read the words about Christ’s disciples in Acts 4:13, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus,” I understood that—without a doubt— Stephen had met Christ, and Christ was working within him.
My Divine Appointment
Stephen and I were neighbors. One Friday in October, 1998, he had organized an all-night prayer meeting in his home, and many of his brothers and sisters in Christ were coming to join in for prayers. While he was out shopping for food for the event— whenever they met for night prayers they always broke bread together—I met him, and he invited me to be a part. “I will come and see how you people cry and make noise during your night prayers,” I sarcastically replied to his invitation. Little did I know that it was an invitation for my divine appointment with Jesus.
However, that evening, instead of going to Stephen’s place, I went to my bed to sleep. I saw no value in spending a night awake when I didn’t share the same faith as the others. Then I began to hear the Christians singing as they praised and worshipped God, and I became uncomfortable in my bed. A still voice kept whispering, “Go and join the believers’ prayer meeting.” I tried to resist, but the voice became stronger and more persistent. I had no option but to honor the voice, so I rushed to Stephen’s house at about 10 p.m.
An usher joyously welcomed me in and gave me a seat. I sat watching people praying—some in languages which I had no knowledge of. I was confused, so I just sat quietly. After the prayer session was finished, everyone sat in a circle to hear testimonies from each one. I wondered what I would say when it came my turn, but—amazingly—everyone showed excitement about my presence and clapped their hands with joy, encouraging me to greet them and at least say my name.
At 1:30 a.m., it was time to hear from the preacher. Stephen moved and sat closer to me. He encouraged me to carefully listen to the preaching and to ask any questions I might have afterwards. Then Henry, the group leader, started preaching. Like Stephen, he preached with confidence and knowledge of the scriptures. For the first time I actually enjoyed listening to the preaching by this born-again Christian. After his preaching, Stephen asked if anyone wished to accept Jesus as personal Savior and Lord. Immediately, I felt a strong force possessing me like I had never felt before. I found myself on my knees before Henry with tears rolling down my cheeks. He asked me whether I wanted to get saved, and I had no strength to answer. Instead, I burst into loud weeping. I felt a strong conviction to repent because I had so long resisted God’s voice. Henry, together with other believers, laid their hands on me and prayed for me. When I rose from the ground, I felt as if a heavy load had just been lifted off my head. From this time on, I became a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Stephen and Henry guided my growth as a new believer.
My Way Forward
The scriptures say, “And you shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:17). As soon as the news of my conversion reached my family, they all deserted me, as did my close friends. My mom had passed on in 1997, and I was living with my father and stepmother, together with my siblings. Life became difficult—my father stopped paying my school fees and chased me out of the home. I started living with Stephen’s family, and the Christians became my new family. Though I struggled with life, I never turned back. After undergoing water baptism by immersion and receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, I worked with Henry and other leaders doing missionary work. They would identify persons of peace in different places, and during school holidays they would send us youths out to these places to preach the Word of God.
The plight of being rejected by my family and friends worked to draw me closer to God, as He was my only hope. I devoted more time to prayer, reading the Word of God, and sharing it with others. God saw me through high school, and I was awarded a government scholarship to pursue my first degree at the university. After receiving the scholarship, I also got a sponsor from Canada who covered requirements not covered by the scholarship.
The Lord was faithful to me. I got a first class honors degree at the end of three years. I asked God to grant me favor to be retained at the university in the position of teaching assistant, and I vowed to God that I would use my position in any employment to reach out to His people and make disciples for Christ. After graduating, I worked first as a research assistant and later as a community development officer with an international organization. But the Lord did not forget my prayer and desire to work for the university. On February 1, 2011, I received an appointment to teach at Makerere University, the biggest and oldest university in Uganda. I had applied for this job in 2009, and had even lost hope of getting it, but the Lord always remains faithful.
Makerere University was fertile ground for leading students in the way of the Lord. As I discipled students and they completed their studies, they spread out across the country and even beyond Uganda for purposes of work and residency. Those who had embraced Christ carried the Gospel with them to other places.
God’s Grace Continues
In August, 2012, I moved to Norway to pursue a master’s degree, and I continued to have the opportunity to profess the Christ that I believe in. Working as a team with ministers from different places, we have been able to bring a number of people to the knowledge of Christ.
The slogan I live by today is quite different from what it was when I was younger. Today it is, “Nothing will ever separate me from the love of God” (Romans 8:39). The grace of the Lord has brought back many of my old friends and has created more friends for me. My family also has apologized fortheir earlier mistreatment, and some of my siblings and my stepmother are now believers who reach out to others. I am still praying for my dad— who I believe one day will also come to accept Christ. The decision I made 16 years ago to follow Jesus is one I have never regretted. The way of the Lord is indeed good.