Muslim relatives of a young woman in eastern Uganda who put her faith in Christ at a Christmas service coerced her into taking poison at a New Year's celebration, she said.
Sandra Summaya, 24, of Bugayi village in Pallisa District, told Morning Star News that she converted to Christianity at a worship service on Christmas Day.
"I had great peace when the pastor prayed for me to take Jesus as my savior," she said. "I later shared my testimony with my brother, who outrightly accused me of being an infidel and an outcast from the family and the Muslim community. I felt great pain inside me because of the insults."
On Sunday (Jan. 1) Summaya's immediate family and a few other relatives gathered in the predominantly Muslim village in Kamuge County to celebrate the New Year with a meal. At the high point of the gathering, Summaya said, a paternal uncle read to her a Bible verse and suggested it meant God would protect her from harm, including illness from ingesting poison.
"He said, ‘Do you believe that Issa [Jesus] is able to protect your from poison as written in the Bible?' and I answered ‘Yes,'" she said. "Immediately I was forced to take the poison to confirm my faith in the Bible, at around midnight. I could not deny the Bible, so I took the rat poison."
Soon she became seriously ill.
"I started having severe stomach pains together with vomiting and cried for help," she said. "I was taken away from the homestead to a nearby bush. I was tied with a rope to a tree and left to die."
Her loud cries woke a Christian neighbor who rushed to the site.
"I found Summaya unconscious, and we rushed her to a Kamuge nursing home, where the doctor saved her life," said the neighbor, whose name is withheld for security reasons.
Summaya remains at the hospital and her condition has stabilized, a nurse told Morning Star News.
"She will still be in the hospital for some few days as we monitor her situation," said the nurse, who requested anonymity.
An area source requested prayer that Summaya be healed and protected, and that she not doubt God's love and provision.
The incidents are the latest in a series of anti-Christian attacks in eastern Uganda. On Christmas Day Muslims in eastern Uganda beat Christians at a worship service and wrecked the home of a single mother on Christmas Eve, sources said.
On Dec. 8, relatives of a former Islamic teacher attacked his 60-year-old mother for becoming a Christian, wounding her head and breaking her hand, sources said. Aimuna Namutongi sustained a deep cut on her forehead. She and her son, 30-year-old Malik Higenyi, were trying to gather cassava at 10 a.m. on the homestead he had been forced to abandon in Bufuja village, Butaleja District, after Muslim relatives threatened to kill him if he returned.
Higenyi, whom Muslim relatives had beaten unconscious on Nov. 13 after he publically confessed having embraced Christianity, managed to escape the fury of those who arrived at his farm on Dec. 8 while he and his mother were trying to harvest something to eat, he told Morning Star News.
Namutongi became a Christian after visiting her ostracized, injured son on Nov. 26 and listening to his faith journey, a local source said. He has continued to receive threatening messages, he said.
On Oct. 20, Muslims in Kobolwa village, Kibuku District gutted the home of a Christian family for housing two boys who had been threatened with violence for leaving Islam.
Stephen Muganzi, 41, told Morning Star News that the two teenaged boys sought refuge with him on Oct. 16 after their parents earlier in the month learned of their conversion, began questioning them and threatened to kill them. The two boys, ages 16 and 17, had secretly become Christians nearly seven months before.
On Sept. 18, 2016, a Muslim in Budaka District beat his wife unconscious for attending a church service, sources said. Hussein Kasolo had recently married Fatuma Baluka, 21-year-old daughter of an Islamic leader in a predominantly Muslim village, undisclosed for security reasons.
On Aug. 10, a Christian woman in eastern Uganda became ill after she was poisoned, she said.
Aisha Twanza, a 25-year-old convert from Islam, ingested an insecticide put into her food after family members upbraided her for becoming a Christian, she told Morning Star News. She and her husband, who live in Kakwangha village in Budaka District, put their faith in Christ in January 2016.
In Busalamu village, Luuka District, eight children from four families have taken refuge with Christians after their parents beat and disowned them for leaving Islam or animism, sources said. The new-found faith of the children, ages 9 to 16, angered their parents, who beat them in an effort to deter them from sneaking to worship services, and on June 29, 2016 the young ones took refuge at the church building, area sources said.
About 85 percent of the people in Uganda are Christian and 11 percent Muslim, with some eastern areas having large Muslim populations. The country's constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one's faith and convert from one faith to another, but Christians in eastern Uganda are suffering continual attacks by non-state figures.