‘I checked my pocket. I had my wallet and keys’
Joseph’s story | A busy street and an instant conversion
“I grew up in Uganda, in a wealthy and strictly Islamic family. My father worked in politics and my extended family were all financial beneficiaries of Idi Amin. We went to the mosque every Friday, and we prayed five times a day. We observed Ramadan each year, and we read the Quran. At school, our teachers told us it was our responsibility to contribute to the expansion of Islam, so I did! I did a teaching degree and then I worked for an Islamic organisation. We spent our days on the busiest streets of Kampala, evangelising Christians, trying to convert them to the Muslim faith. Sometimes, we would run open-air meetings – comparing Muslim beliefs with the Christian faith, quoting from the Quran and the Bible. At other times, I was part of a group that went around disrupting Christian crusades or we set fire to churches. It went on for years, until one particular day – Wednesday, April 14, 1993.
I was 24 years old, and I’d been up early, doing person-to-person evangelism on the busy streets of Kampala. At 9.15am, I began talking with a man who appeared to be doing the same thing, except that he was trying to convert Muslims to the Christian faith. I soon realised he had previously been a Muslim, and he had converted to following Jesus. That’s when I offered to pray for him. I knew that bringing a person back to the Muslim faith is one of the greatest things I could do! So I spent hours talking with the man. We compared everything in the Quran and the Bible. I was sure I could convince him. We talked about many things – Jesus and Mohammed, and going to church and the mosque. We debated about which was the true book of God. It lasted for three hours. We knew all the verses.
Then at 12.30pm, the man said he had to be going. He had a bus to catch. He asked me if I would like to give my life to the Lord Jesus. I said no! He said okay and started to walk away. I watched him. When he had walked a short way, I had a strange feeling in my heart. It was like a voice telling me that the man was taking something that belonged to me.
I checked my pocket. I had my wallet and my keys. I looked over to where my car was parked. It was still there. Nothing was missing! I looked up and the man was still walking away. That’s when I had the same feeling, for the second time. ‘That man is taking something that belongs to you.’ I checked my pocket again. Everything was there. The man was still walking away. Then I heard the message for the third time. So I went after the man and I told him what I’d heard. The man said, “Jesus belongs to you. He died for you. He’s welcoming you into his kingdom, he paid your penalty. But you have rejected him.”
I was confused. And the man said, “Would you like me to pray for you?” That’s when everything changed for me. I said, “Yes.”
In our culture, when you surrender everything, you kneel, as a sign of submission. I knelt in the busy street. I took off my Muslim hat, and the man prayed for me. I somehow knew it to be true. I confessed with my mouth and I believed in my heart that Jesus was the Lord of all … and I had a peace I had never felt before.
Later, I went back to tell my family and I lost everything – my home, my job, my family. I slept in my car. But I was so sure that Jesus was Lord. So, four days later, I went back to that same street in Kampala, and I started telling people about Jesus. I didn’t know how to preach. I didn’t know very much, but I knew that Jesus loved them, and I knew that Jesus was the Son of God … so that’s what I started telling people. And that was the beginning of my story!”
Joseph’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.