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Friday, February 13, 2009

Orombi leads the flock to Christ in Ankole


Hundreds took the step of faith and became born-again Christians and in other souls, faith in God was rekindled during the second edition of the annual West Ankole Diocese Youth and Students Convention held at Bweranyangi Girls School in Bushenyi District from January 16-21, 2009.

The planning committee expected about 1500 participants but over 5000 came compared to last year's 1000. As a result, the earlier plan to hold a "Jesus Walk" through Bushenyi town was abandoned out of the fear that the overwhelming numbers would paralyse business in Bushenyi town.

Under the theme, Set An Example, drawn from 1 Timothy 4:12 (Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believer, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity), the convention was organised in partnership with the African Evangelistic Enterprise headed by Rev. Can. Geofrey Byarugaba, the convention's Bible expositor.

Renowned for his passion for young people and a big heart for evangelism, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, His Grace The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, was a befitting chief guest and main speaker. He called 2009 "a year of harvest and one in which God is going to manifest His glory among men." Then he encouraged the youth that they can make it and their light can shine bright against the darkness of immorality, corruption and all the evils rooted in modern society.

"We have a friend in Jesus," he said heartily, and cautioned the youth to be wary of the devil, which he said turns you from a gentleman to a pauper. His Grace also urged fathers to hug their daughters and hold their hands because out there are loose men and women who hug them lustfully.

He further challenged parents to refine their conduct and detest sin passionately in a way that pleases God. The Archbishop related his own story of prodigality as a young man when he turned his back to God. He chased after all the beautiful girls in the neighbourhood and at school, he confessed, but realised that even that couldn't quench the longing and emptiness in his soul.

"I was no different from the Biblical prodigal son; a young man from a rich father who was reduced to a shepherd of pigs," he said in a remorseful tone. "But his shame was covered by his father and in this convention; some of your 'nakedness' will be covered by the blood of Jesus, which cleansed me 41 years ago."

In his trademark firm but fatherly voice, the Archbishop suddenly broke into an old hymn: 'Softly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, O sinner, come home,' sung with feeling, as tears came to the eyes of many who lined up to give their lives to Christ. They raised their hands and prayed the prayer of surrender in which they acknowledged the sovereignty of Jesus, and like true penitents, cried out in unison, "Jesus, we need you."

With elevating hymns and other songs of praise and worship playing in the background, Innocent Paul Nyamujunga, a student of Bishop Ogez High School, who, like many others had just become saved, said he was grateful to the curiosity that led him to the convention.

"I wanted to find out what happens at a convention and when the archbishop gave his testimony, I was touched and after asking myself many questions, I found myself giving my life to Christ," he said. After a long pause, he added joyfully, "I’m so glad because I'm now a changed person."

Several choirs such as the Anglican Youth Fellowship Choir and other singers blessed the convention with uplifting songs. Mama Africa, for example, drew the congregation to their feet, clapping and singing along to her The Lord Loves Africa, a song in which she pleads with her listeners to shun lesbianism and homosexuality, calling our bodies the temple of the Lord.

The Bishop of West Ankole, the Rt. Rev. Yonah Katonene, asked the youth to be exemplary in their conduct and said the gospel should be preached with urgency in this depraved world. He offered to put a lot of energy in promoting the youth ministry in West Ankole and elsewhere because young people can easily be shaped and moulded to become great leaders of tomorrow.

Mrs Peace Tindyebwa, the Headmistress of Bweranyangi Girls School, talked about the pursuit of one's dream. She shared her own testimony of how in S.1 in the same school in 1977 she gave her life to Jesus.

"We are made by God for God and only in God do we discover our origin, identity, meaning, our purpose, our significance and destiny," she said, and ended with advice that drew prolonged applause: "Put your dream in God's hands and allow Him to give you the strength to pursue it, and you'll achieve."