Uganda: Pastor, church member beaten and drowned in retaliation for evangelizing Muslims

A church bell hangs from a tree branch outside a Catholic church and a school in Odek village, Uganda.
A church bell hangs from a tree branch outside a Catholic church and a school in Odek village, Uganda. | (PHOTO: REUTERS/JAMES AKENA)

Radical Muslims in eastern Uganda beat and drowned a 25-year-old pastor and a 22-year-old church member in retaliation for preaching the Gospel to local Muslims.

Pastor Peter Kyakulaga of Church of Christ and parishioner Tuule Mumbya were murdered in a lake in Lugonyola village in the Gadumire Sub-County of Kaliro District, the U.S.-based Morning Star News reported this week.

The murders occurred on the night of June 22, but reports of the crimes only came out of the East African country this week.

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The day before the murders, hardline Muslims warned the pastor and his church members to stop evangelizing in the area.

“We have discovered that your mission is not to fish but to hold Christian meetings and then convert Muslims to Christianity,” one of the Muslims told the Christian evangelists, according to a relative of the pastor. “We are not going to take this mission of yours lightly. This is our last warning to you.”

David Nabyoma, the chairperson of the local council from Namuseru village, where the church is located, was informed about the attack.

“They were requesting help, saying Muslims from Lugonyola had invaded the area around the lakeside, and several Christians were reported to have been injured, including my son,” Nabyoma, a member of the Church of Uganda, was quoted as saying. “Immediately we rushed to the scene of the incident with several Christians. We hired four boats and drove to the lake and found out that two of the Christians had been badly beaten and drowned in the lake and died instantly.”

The country’s church leaders pleaded with Christians not to retaliate, but pray instead.

While Uganda is a predominantly Christian country, with Muslims making up only 12% of the population, Christians have faced attacks for their faith in Muslim-majority areas.

Recently, Open Doors said in a report that “extremists are exploiting the opportunity to blame Christians for causing the (COVID-19) pandemic” in Somalia, Uganda and Niger.

In 2018, hundreds of Muslims in eastern Uganda expressed anger after Christians held public debates about Jesus, among other things, leading to the arrest of six pastors.

About 70 pastors and 30 churches held a series of talks in Sironko, defending Christianity. Speeches included the testimony of Pastor Moses Wangaia, a popular Christian apologist, who explained why he converted from Islam to Christianity.

Also in 2018, a Ugandan man who left Islam to accept faith in Christ suffered severe burns on nearly half his body as members of his family took vengeance on him by attacking him with scarring-hot cooking oil.

Morning Star News reported at the time that 27-year-old Gobera Bashir was the victim of an honor attack that occurred in the Budaka District, less than a week after he attended church with a friend and converted to Christianity.

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