Young Girl Orphaned in Uganda After Father Converts to Christianity

By ICC’s East Africa Correspondent

11/16/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In a Muslim populated village in eastern Uganda, Rehema lives with her grandmother after losing her recently converted father to persecution. Rehema’s mother is nowhere to be found.

International Christian Concern (ICC) arrived in the late evening while Rehema was at the nearby shopping center, buying some items for her grandmother, Salima.

Rehema has been sent by my mother to go and get some sugar before darkness arrives. She will be back very soon,” Aisha, Rehema’s aunt, told ICC. “She has not been fine for months after her dad died and her mother left without a trace.”

Aisha confided that Rehema’s father, Juma Hassan “died from the brutal wounds caused by the family when he left Islam and started going to a church just across the road.

Juma was raised as a Muslim, as is the norm in any staunch Muslim family. A relative who wished to remain anonymous told ICC that, in April 2018, “He informed his wife that he had been preached to by a Christian pastor and he felt that he needed to put his trust in Christ. A few days later, he stopped going to the mosque and began attending Bible studies and church services. Juma’s father was very upset after learning about Juma’s new faith. He called all of us and led the meeting that excommunicated Juma, his wife, and his child.

This is not the first time that Muslim families have excommunicated, assaulted, or killed members who converted from Islam. Uganda has witnessed numerous incidents of this nature, many of which have ended tragically and created greater animosity among families.

“Uganda has witnessed numerous incidents of this nature, many of which have ended tragically and created greater animosity among families.”

Aisha, a Muslim relative, did not hesitate to speak to ICC about what happened to her brother-in-law. “He went to live in another district far away from home,” Aisha explained. “During this time, he was not able to take care of the wife and young Rehema. Eventually, his wife informed him that she was not ready to suffer for a decision she did not make, and thus left him and Rehema. Until now, nobody knows where she disappeared to.

The family was more upset to learn that Juma’s family was breaking down after leaving Islam,” a Christian neighbor told ICC. “The father called some relatives and friends and went to engage Juma. A discussion that was to be amicable turned chaotic when Juma’s father started cursing him and asking the group to beat him. He suffered several injuries in the head and the spine. They also demolished his house and took Rehema back to her grandmother.

Juma, fearing for his life, left for Kenya to seek shelter and treatment,” a local pastor explained to ICC. “He later succumbed to the injuries in May 2018.

The church where he had started attending learned that the family had decided never to be associated with their son and nobody was bothered about going to Kenya to [retrieve] the body,” the pastor continued. “After seeking consent from the family, the church looked for the body of Juma in Kenya and buried him at the church’s compound in Nakalooke district.

Rehema, who is in primary school, has been struggling to pay for her school fees and uniform. She is also lacking quality shoes and clothing. Distraught and lonely, she said, “I miss my father so much. I also want to become a Christian, but I fear my grandmother and other family members. I don’t know where my mama is and I hope that she is fine and she will come back home soon.

Please join us in praying for Rehema and her family.

For interviews with Nathan Johnson, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

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