Two interesting stories of two interesting men overcoming immense adversity.
On December 24, 2011, Christmas Eve, Rev. Omar Mulinda addressed a congregation of 300 Christians at one of Uganda’s biggest churches. Mulinda is highly regarded as an impressive orator, and thousands come to hear his sermons.
Preparations were well underway to celebrate Christmas the following day, but the anticipation and joy were soon replaced with sadness when, as Mulinda recounts: “I left the church early. I was about to enter my vehicle and drive home when… but then they poured a bucket full of acid on my head.”
Unfortunately for the 41-year-old Mulinda, this attack was not the end of the persecution against him, which ultimately made him a famous reverend in Uganda.
Mulinda was the 52nd of 54 children (!) in a highly respected Muslim family. His mother was the daughter of the great imam. He was brought up Muslim and was slated to become a clergyman.
In 1993, Mulinda mustered up the courage and secretly converted to Christianity. But his secret was not kept for long — on his very first day at church, as he was exiting the building after prayer, some of his Muslim friends spotted him and reported him to the Muslim community. At that moment, Mulinda’s personal version of hell began. At first it was just his family, which renounced him. Then it was violent persecution, which peaked with the acid attack on that fateful Christmas Eve.
“I felt a fire burning inside me,” he says. “With my last remaining strength I tried to flee to my office at the church, but as I was running my attackers flung more acid on my back — in an effort to kill me. I tripped, but I managed to get to my office while they yelled out ‘Allahu akbar’. That is when I realized that these men were Muslim terrorists.”
Two days later, a letter was left at the church, saying “We are sorry to learn that you are still alive. We wanted you to die, but Allah will give us the strength to complete the task.” The letter listed four reasons for the act of terror: 1. Omar converted to Christianity; 2. He is promoting a love for Israel; 3. He preaches against Muslims (they claim); 4. He dared question Shariah law as it appears in the constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
Mulinda, who has become a leading figure among Christians in his country, has tried to combat this effort and even formulated a petition and addressed the Ugandan parliament on the topic. “My argument is that, as a Christian, I oppose the abuse of people and the violation of human rights. If Shariah law is implemented, there will be much hatred toward Israel, and every Muslim who converted will be executed by law.”
The day after he was hospitalized, a terrorist impersonating a doctor made his way to Mulinda’s bed, carrying a syringe filled with poison. Luckily, Mulinda’s friends from church were there to stop the assassin in time.
“I came to Israel in bad shape,” he recalls. “I couldn’t swallow, I couldn’t speak and I couldn’t move my head or neck. My body was rotting — I lost my nose and my mouth was dripping downward. In Israel, the doctors did an amazing job rehabilitating me with many skin grafts and facial reconstruction. Everything you see now is only thanks to the Israeli doctors.”
Symbolically speaking, the man who insisted on preaching love for Israel (and had even visited Israel several times), received his life back on its soil. “My soul has been spiritually linked to this place for decades, and now, my body is as well,” Mulinda says humorously.
Majed El Shafie, 36, was born in Cairo to a family with a legal orientation: his father and brothers worked as lawyers and his uncle was a Supreme Court justice in Egypt.
El Shafie was ready to become a lawyer, but “during my first year of law school, the persecution of the Christian minority that I saw shocked me,” he says. “There was a law in Egypt making it against the law to build new churches or to renovate old churches. Somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 Christian activists are in prison for no reason.”
El Shafie’s story resembles Mulinda’s in many respects. He founded a human rights organization, which grew rapidly to 24,000 members. They built churches in secret — carving them into mountains and grave sites — in direct violation of Egyptian law but out of a strong belief in freedom of worship.
On Aug. 15, 1998, soldiers and officers raided El Shafie’s office and arrested him. His personal version of hell began shortly afterward. In El Shafie’s case, this hell had a name: Abu Zaabal prison. In the prison there was an active “torture compound” that included abuse around the clock, interspersed with short breaks comprised entirely of anticipation for the next round of abuse. A doctor on the premises ensures that the prisoner does not lose consciousness, so that every second of pain is fully experienced.
He also knew that his life would be in danger in any of the Arab-Muslim countries. Therefore, despite his negative preconceptions, he decided to flee to Israel. It was the summer of 1998 when he hid in Sinai and planned his big escape, which he describes in detail: “I stole a jet ski and waited for the sun to set.”
El Shafie explains that the Jews and the Christians need to unite against radical Islam. “We have a common enemy and a common struggle. For many years, the Jews and the Christians failed to understand the significance of the friendship between them, until now.”
El Shafie adds that “my love for Israel is on a spiritual level of faith, and on a personal level. From a personal perspective, Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. It houses Jews, Muslims, Druze, Christians, secular and religious people, and everyone lives free.”
This is a compressed version of a much longer article. To read the whole thing… follow the link.