By Justus Rubarema
Every 3rd June, Uganda Is a focus of Christian news as the world remembers dozens of innocent believers that were brutally murdered while with some burnt alive because of turning from the then traditional religion to Christianity. The good news about all this history is that the man at whose hands they died later accepted Christ and died a Christian years after. Just like the Bible puts it in 2 Timothy 2:9, “…but the Word of God is not imprisoned.”The main celebrations are held in Namugongo Martyrs shrine on the outskirts of Kampala city with between 1,000,000 – 2,000,000 people largely from Uganda, East Africa and the rest of Africa. There are other gatherings in some other towns across the country. No doubt, this is a single biggest Christian gathering in Uganda!
This year, The Bible Society of Uganda thought about people who are unable to commemorate this day because of the conditions surrounding them, especially the sick in hospitals and those in prison. For the start, the focus was on those in prison and Gulu main prison and Bugungu Prison in Jinja were chosen. In Total 2,500 people were reached, each given a copy of the ESV Gospel of John and helped to reflect on boldness of Christian faith no matter the circumstances.
The climax of all this probably were ten men in Gulu main prison who came forward from a crowd of about 1,300, some crying and surrender their lives to Christ for renewal and transformation. The Gospel of John books were delivered about 3 weeks earlier and distributed amongst the prison inmates. In turn, the inmates read them individually and where possible in group. During this celebration, the inmates were given time to make presentations of what touched them most as they read the Gospel of John.
Interesting, both the women wing and the men presented mostly around John 8, where a woman caught in adultery and deserved death according to the Law of Moses was exonerated by Jesus Christ who even made her accusers drop the whole idea. “I also do not condemn you either. Go, but don’t continue doing adultery…” said one of the prisoners during the play. He had acted as Jesus Christ. When time came for prayers, more than 70% of them had a common prayer request; to be released. Others prayed for healing, their families left behind, justice to come speedily, and enablement to get lawyers that would stand for them during court. It was such a great experience seeing what the Word of God can do in people’s lives if presented to them with sincere love. Much as there were other few items like soap that was given, their biggest appreciation was for a copy of the Gospel of John. The OC Gulu central prison told The Bible Society team while explaining the significance of such a visit: “We believe that this is a place for rehabilitation. These people can change for real. We have seen some of them changing completely.” He further said that the spiritual transformation is best done by the Church and he was glad to receive The Bible Society of Uganda team together with some Church leaders from Gulu. The inmates that had opportunity to say a word were all pointing to two major areas “We need Bibles also,” “please pray for us”. We are convinced that this visit greatly touched the souls of these loved ones of God in prison.