This is my testimony but before I start, I feel it’s more important to give you some insight into my childhood, so that you can be able to understand some of the decisions I made and task I took later on in my life. Every decision and task, I have made or taken respectively during my lifetime, good and bad, is what has brought me to who lam now today.
I was born by a Moslem mother and a catholic father and here in Uganda, usually children follow their father’s region, so for that reason I and my siblings we were raised as Catholics. We went to church basically on Easter Sundays and Christmas. I was brought up knowing God but missing out the whole idea of who really Jesus; accepting him as my personal Saviour and the fact that he died on the cross for my sins.
Being the first born, I enjoyed special privileges from the day one till I was 4 years compared to my six siblings (Sandra Nakiyimba 18yrs, Dinah Nalukwago 16yrs, Oliver Nabisere 15yrs, Allan Kmbugwe 12yrs, Isaac Kiyimba 10yrs and Patrick Ssekamanya 3yrs) because my parents did whatever was necessary so that I could enjoy a happy life.
As I turned 4 years, my parents never gave me whatever I asked for on a daily basis as it was in the past, things like sweets, ice cream and toys and by doing this, they were grooming me into a more responsible child so they taught me that the things I ask for; costs something to get that something in life and that something is their sweat as parents, this gave me a positive thinking that; whatever I wanted in life, I had to first work for it, in other words my parents never gave me the fish but instead gave me the fish rod
My life turned around in 1999 when we were evicted forcefully from the land where we were residing by an investor who had sited the area as suitable to boost his plan future business with little compensation compared to the property damaged and the value of land. This is when I started missing school due to failure to pay the tuition in time because at this time, my parents’ financial spending had widened; (rent, food, school fees, basic needs) which not that case before because spending on rent was never on their budget and we used to have a small garden which provided a small portion on the food we consumed annually.
Back then schooling seemed such an easy thing as I literally moved from one class to another, with tuition fully paid. So, I always felt like vanishing when I and my siblings were sent away from school due to a fee balance and in 2004, I sat my Uganda Certificate Education but unfortunately, I could not continue because the higher I went the more it cost.
The situation worsened, in 2005 when my parents separated, months after Patrick the last born was given birth to, so we as children had to stay with our father, who left home early and came back home very late when everyone was a sleep and this is where it become, my concern to take up our mother responsibility towards my six siblings as well Patrick who was months by then, guiding, protecting and caring was my role towards them.
I found myself in a place in life that seemed unbearable, and I often questioned whether I will be able to stand the test of this responsibility. I always wondered if I would handle the weight of the situation I was subjected too because at first; my siblings would not listen to whatever I told them, and this only brought about conflictions.
I always asked myself on how I will teach my siblings what right from wrong? And how to pass on to them a sense of morality, values and social responsibility and one time as I was sharing the situation I was in with a colleague of mine, he recommended me to accept Jesus as my personal Saviour and ask him strength and wisdom on how to deal with the situation I was in. I told him being through all of this, my bible was never far though I hardly read it, and he advised me,
“Having a bible, reading it or not does not bring you closer to Jesus, it about accepting Him and having Faith in Him that he can deliver you. What most of us don’t realize, however, is just how much Jesus loves us. Jesus is showing us and telling us how much He loves us every day and God will never give you more than you can handle, if he has brought to this kind of situation, He will bring you through it.”
With those words I rededicated my life to the lord and become a born again Christian and from that day on, the Lord has given me a hunger for His word and relationship with him. I started bring back my siblings to Christ again though for them they are still Catholics and their behaviors changed since them even though we had some days when our father was a burden to us, he always came back home late, looked for a slight mistake to start up a fight and he always canned by siblings with no good reason, this internally hurt me always but I had nothing do, all of my siblings even Patrick the last born hated him but I always told them to love our father regardless of harm is causing to them because they are many children out there are without their parent, so we should praise and be thankful to God that our parents are still alive, and we always prayed for our father to have a heart of compassion towards us, his children. This was my first tough battle of my life in salvation, I always went to God in tears and told him,
“Lord if it got worse than this I would surely die!”
And a few months down the road it got worse, and I didn’t die; He gave me the grace to fight in prayer.
Months later, it got even worse and yet I still fought on declaring that He is Lord and Saviour. At that point I had given up issuing Him with ultimatums of me dying and I just panted:
“Give me the strength. I still love you. Give our father the heart of compassion!”
Day by day, our father’s harsh attitude towards us deteriorated
God gave me strength a wisdom and sooner, my siblings started listening to whatever I had to say and followed without questioning as it was before and people who hardly knew me before think my siblings are my own children and I did always kept my sisters in daily prayers so that God can help to overcome this world’s challenges, like unwanted pregnancies and deadly diseases associated with unprotected sex and I always urged them, not to admire what they don’t have to avoid temptations because time will come when each one will own what they admired before.
I felt the love of God upon us. My duty as an elder was to provide two types of food to them, the physical and spiritual food for the proper growth of my siblings. I made sure I taught my siblings to worship and praise God and my sisters are in the Catholic choir. I did this by giving each one of them a chance to sing and dance to their worship song; I sow in them the word of God by reading the bible collectively and asking them to recite some of the verses. And this is why I considered myself privileged
Our mother finally came back home, though, she does not stay but she spends much time with us now like it was never before.
I now know that God was taking care of me, even before, He saw what I would be one day in Him. I give God all I am today and all that He is shaping and training me to be, and he answered my question of “where can I see you God?” God has proven to me that through my siblings, relatives and friends like Katuramu, Gerald, Wanda and Lea Hutto, God did reveal himself to me after all Jesus became human through Jesus Christ and am very thankful that they came my way because I have always been blessed with them thus learning that it’s not what we have in life but who (Friends) we have in life that counts.
I tell you if God was to reward us for our deeds, I don’t think we would get anything from HIM. Trust I, we are largely undeserving; at least that is how I see myself but o need an act of compassion in most areas of my life. I need for God to see my situation and this year. I have resolved to be less demanding and more thankful to God, after all, doesn’t the bible say that he knows the plans he has for us, plans to prosper me and not to harm.
The Bible says our names are written in the palms of His hands. So why fret for the plans God has for you that He has already accomplished, give thanks for the plans He has for you that He is still perfecting, rest in him and give thanks for every step you take in your wilderness give thanks. I thank God for giving me the gift of salvation because without Him, I wouldn’t have overcome the challenges of this world. The Lord has done so many good things in my life.
Ivan Ddungu Barnes(firstname.lastname@example.org)