Like a modern day Paul, Hassan Sharif Lubenga, 54, was actively opposing Christians in his Ugandan hometown of Chengera, near Kampala, as a member of the Buk Haram, a violent group of Islamists. And like Paul, God pursued him with a tenacity that overcame the darkness of his life with the pure light of Christ.
Compass Direct News reports that Lubenga’s journey to Christ began in 2007 when he informed his Muslim jihadist friends that he had seen Jesus in a dream. At that time, they warned him, “Do not make such a mistake again – we are ready to help you. If you continue with this move, then we will destroy you.” He reported the threats to police, angering his colleagues, who sent threatening letters. “I explained to them that it is Jesus who came to me, and not I who sought Him,” he said. “They were furious. They then kidnapped me and blindfolded me for three days, coupled with beatings. They demanded I deny Jesus as the Son of God. I consented to because I feared that they were going to kill me.”
Two years later, in 2009, another message from Jesus came to him in a vision, saying, “Do not hide your Christian faith.” But Lubenga decided to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca in accordance with the tenets of Islam. While there he heard a voice, saying “You have decided to forsake me, and instead you are here to accuse Me.” Lubenga said, “I then saw Jesus high up with white robe. I left the place, but got sick for two weeks. I visited Mohammed Ali, the head of majini [evil spirits], who promised that the majini will come and help me. But I did not receive any healing.”
Jesus continued appearing to him in visions for three months. “I could not resist, so I decided to believe in Him and started openly declaring that Jesus is my personal Savior. The whole family and clan members were outraged and set out to destroy me.” The threats by Islamic extremists increased when Muslims saw him visiting a church in Uganda. By April 2010, one of his four wives had poisoned him because of his budding faith in Christ, leaving him unconscious.
Lubenga said his father, Morshid Kabide, came to his house in July 2010 to establish the truth of the rumors he had heard. “I heard that nowadays you go to church, and are claiming that you saw Jesus,” his father told him. When he answered in the affirmative, reaffirming his decision to follow Jesus, his father was crestfallen; he later committed suicide, leaving a letter that read, “I have decided to kill myself because my son became a Christian,” and urged all family members to curse him.
Lubenga fled to Kenya to seek refuge, but later returned to Uganda where the threats on his life from mujahidin – Islamic fighters – intensified. A friend told him that he’d heard in a local mosque that his former colleagues were enraged and planned to kill him. “My heart got troubled, but the voice of Jesus continued whispering to me to witness for Jesus without fear,” Lubenga said.
At one of his lowest points, and felt like giving up on his new faith, Lubenga received a call from Bishop Umar Mulinde, his former pastor at Gospel Life Church International. Bishop Mulinde had also been a victim of attacks (See report from Dec 29, 2011 Muslims in Uganda Throw Acid on Bishop) and told Lubenga that the church was praying for him.
Since last September Lubenga has been in hiding, growing more terrified as threats intensify. “But I kept my faith in Jesus,” he said. Two of his wives have since left him; one has decided to stay with him, and he has been sharing his faith with her. The fourth wife, whom he married five years ago, is a Christian who has also received death threats. Six months pregnant, she has fled to an undisclosed location.
Father, we marvel at the miraculous way You drew Hassan Lubenga “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.” And now we lift him up in this time of persecution. Protect, strengthen and encourage him. Give him both wisdom and courage as he proclaims the love and grace of Your gospel to those who would hear. Protect his family and draw his unbelieving wife into Your truth. And may his testimony soften the hearts of even of those who would seek his life that they might turn their hearts toward You. In the name of Jesus who redeems, Amen.