By Mark Ellis —
Sheikh Hassan Podo, a 28-year-old imam in eastern Uganda, put his faith in Christ on Feb. 24th after hearing the Gospel from another pastor. His wife became a Christian one week later.
Before his conversion, the imam was part of a Muslim extremist group that had attacked the Church of Uganda’s Katira congregation, according to a report by Morning Star News.
The imam managed to keep his faith in Christ a secret for a short time. When he missed mosque prayers for three consecutive weeks, he began to arouse suspicion.
Then a young Muslim witnessed Podo enter a church building on March 16th and went straight to his Muslim family to report him.
When the imam arrived at his home that evening, his family interrogated him about where he had spent the day.
“Without my completing answering them, my brothers immediately began surrounding me, with sticks,” Podo told Morning Star News. “It was difficult to escape. They began shouting, beating and insulting me as an ‘infidel’ and enemy of the Islamic religion.”
His wife and two children managed to escape to the home of a nearby Christian neighbor, he said.
With sticks and other blunt objects, Podo’s relatives injured his left arm from the shoulder to his fingers, said one of the area residents who found him unconscious. He also sustained a head injury.
“There was a loud cry emanating from Podo’s homestead, raising a big concern from the neighbors who arrived at the scene of attack and helped Podo to escape,” the source said. “He bled as he fled for his life. Later he was found in a pool of blood a kilometer away from the homestead, unconscious.”
They rushed him to a clinic in Katira, and he was discharged after two days and taken to a pastor. His wife and two children later joined him at an undisclosed location.
The pastor said Podo’s father mobilized a group of Muslims from different mosques “to hunt for the life of his son, declaring a fatwa and disowning him, and giving his land to the brothers for bringing blasphemy into the family. Sheikh Twale and Galami Abdulmutwalibi have been carrying out a series of prayers to curse Podo’s family. But we know the blood of Jesus will protect the family.”
The pastor has been giving Podo discipleship lessons to strengthen the family’s faith in the midst of the ordeal, he said.
“Please family of Christ, our humble request is that we covet prayers for Podo and his young family for God’s healing, medication, protection, provision and to get to a safe haven for the young family,” the pastor said.
The attacks were the latest of many cases of persecution of Christians in eastern Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.
Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.
Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, but with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.
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Photo: Hassan Podo, former sheikh beaten after his family learned he had become a Christian. (Morning Star News)