UCU theology student journeys from Islam to Christianity
Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2021/08/ucu-theology-student-journeys-from-islam-to-christianity/
By Joseph Lagen
Adiaka Matthew Ekonekatwaar, a Uganda Christian University (UCU) post-graduate student, is a naturally defiant man. He will defy the status quo if he believes his heart is elsewhere.
At the age of 10 years, Adiaka felt he had had enough of the Islam faith. Without consent from his mother, he started attending Christian praise and worship sessions at a nearby church. Adiaka often took advantage of the time when his mother was away at evening prayers at a mosque in their community. And he often made sure to return before she did.
Music attracted him to the church, but conviction kept him in the faith. Two years later, the 12-year-old was christened Matthew and confirmed a Christian in the Anglican Church. Adiaka, who had been given the name Yahaya at birth, did not meet much resistance from his mother, Esther Lorimo, as he switched faiths.
Lorimo had changed from Christianity to Islam when she got married to Adiaka’s father, Abdi Zirabamuzaale, who was a famous traditional healer in the region. He died when Adiaka was still a toddler, leaving behind nine children.
To show commitment, Adiaka stayed true to his faith, even when he was far from home. While in secondary school at Busoga College Mwiri in eastern Uganda, Adiaka joined the Scripture Union, a club that uses the Bible to inspire people to know more about God. It was at the Scripture Union where he accepted Christ, at 14 years.
And his talent in public speech came in handy during evangelism, as well as taking up positions of leadership. Adiaka served as the deputy head of students at Mwiri and as the head of students at central Uganda’s Naalya Senior Secondary School, where he studied A’level.
Even when Naalya was a predominantly Catholic school, Adiaka and a few Anglican friends often met and prayed regularly. All students in Naalya were expected to attend only Catholic prayers, but, sometimes, Adiaka and his Anglican friends defied. Even if it usually got them into trouble, they still prayed and evangelised in the dormitories.
In May 2019, Adiaka again shocked his family with his defiance. He turned down an offer for an interview for a government job as the District Inspector of Schools, in preference for a Master of Arts in Theology course at UCU. The District Inspector of Schools is charged with ensuring compliance of education standards by all schools in the district.
The master’s program, which Adiaka is expected to complete this year, culminates into his ordination as a Reverend – what the 30-year-old has always desired in his life.
The interview whose invitation Adiaka turned down was for a position in Nabilatuk, his home district in northeastern Uganda.
“My elder brothers and relatives pleaded with me to attend the interview,” Adiaka recalls, saying they even fuelled a car and sent it over 210 miles away, to pick him at UCU, where he had already begun studies for his master’s course.
When he declined to travel for the interview, preferring to pursue his course, his family members cut off ties with him for the next year.
Adiaka graduated as a professional teacher at Makerere University in 2017. Even if he declined to sit an interview for a job in his home district, Adiaka says he has his affection for his home district.
“In 2018, I left teaching in schools in Kampala, in preference for a Catholic seminary back home,” Adiaka, the husband of Joy Lomokol, said. The couple has a daughter, named Hallelujah Ajokis.
“It was while teaching at the seminary that my home church, St. Luke’s Nabilatuk, suggested that I succeed the retiring reverend – they were even willing to contribute to my theology studies, that is how I knew they were serious.”
And that is how Adiaka got sponsorship for his master’s course from his home diocese, as well as the UCU Faculty of Theology.
He is presently serving at St. Luke’s Nabilatuk as an ordinand. Upon graduation at UCU, Adiaka is expected step in to fill the shoes of one of the five ministers who is scheduled to retire in two years.
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