A Christian pastor was killed just hours after leading Ugandans to Christ at a public debate about Christianity and Islam. (Caution: This story contains a description that some may find offensive.)
After being invited to engage in an open-air debate near his Komolo village residence in Pallisa town, relatives say Pastor Thomas Chikooma was killed on May 3 by suspected Muslim militants after he led 14 people – including six Muslims – to faith in Jesus Christ.
Dying to save
Besides being eager to lead Ugandans to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, Chikooma reportedly was eager as well to prove the truth of God's Word.
"Area Muslims had invited the independent Pentecostal church pastor to participate in the debate at a taxi park in the town where they had been holding public discussions for about a month," Morning Star News reported from an account given by the pastor's relatives.
"After offering a defense of Christianity at the debate using the Bible and the Koran and leading the people to receive Christ, angry Muslims began shouting the jihadist slogan, 'Allah Akbar,' or 'Allah is greater,' compelling him to rush away from the venue with his son …"
His young son provided more details as an eyewitness. "Two motorcycles carrying two Muslims each and dressed in Islamic attire speedily bypassed us," the youth told Morning Star News. "When we were 200 meters to reach our house, the two motorcycles stopped at the junction opposite Nalufenya primary school and the road near our house."
After becoming suspicious of the motorcyclists, the pastor directed his son to follow him at a distance, and before long, the youth noticed his father talking to the motorcyclists, who were accompanied by two other men.
"Immediately some commotion began as the men started talking about the open-air debate, and soon, one of them slapped my father," the son continued. "I got scared and fled through our cassava plantation and arrived at home."
An hour later, the boy's mother, Jessica Naikomba, returned home, and they both discovered that no one was to be found at the scene when they arrived, but they were not prepared for the horrific sight they were about to see.
"As we continued doing the search, we found my husband in a pool of blood – beheaded and his tongue removed," Naikomba recounted to Morning Star News.
A postmortem examination was made after police arrived on the scene and brought the body to a hospital in Pallisa, and an investigation is still underway.
Legacy left, persecution persists …
As a beloved father of 11 who planted 50 churches in eastern Uganda, Chikooma led St. Martin Church in Ngalwe village, where relatives and congregants mourned in disbelief, along with Bishop Akora, who pastors a nearby Pentecostal church.
"The family needs prayers, financial support and trauma counseling at this trying moment," Bishop Akora told the daily, which noted that such Christian persecution is rife in Uganda.
Even though religious freedom – including the rights to propagate one's faith and convert to another religion – is granted by Uganda's constitution, such atrocities are not uncommon in the central African nation, where Muslims – who reside mostly in the eastern regions – constitute less than 12% of the total population.