By Leonard Kamugisha Akida
Pentecostal membership and born-again conversion have been growing in popularity across the country and the Catholic Church is not doing anything concerning firming its youth’s foundation in order to avoid them from joining other religious sects.
Last week, as I travelled on my journalistic duties, my eyes got caught up on a young beautiful lady doing street preaching in Kampala at Cairo Bank in the heart of the city.
One of the two people that sat behind me told her friend, “I am thinking of converting from Roman Catholicism to becoming Born Again Christian but I know my family will disapprove of it.” The two-angel-like looking ladies in their early 20’s must have been coming from their University studies.
They then started jazzing about the miracles, spiritual powers and City pastors with large following. The conversation was so sweet and I could find myself turning my rabbit-like ears to catch their chat.
“Thanks to COVID-19,” another lady exclaimed, “my roommate and I would have fought for not going with her in Friday Night Prayers and Sunday Fellowships!”
“But there is nothing bad with over nights and fellowships, if you hate your roommate’s church or Pastor, you still can fellowship at another church, Sweetheart,” another interrupted.
Modern church that is to say, music bands, preaching styles, large following, miracles, testimonies, deliverances dominated their chat and at times one would insist on allegations of fake or self-proclaimed pastors using their pulpits to steal from desperate, hopeless and poor Christians.
As we approached the Electoral Commission Offices, I got out of the Taxi and crossed the road to Kikuuba- Mutwe Namuwongo for my day’s assignment.
Too much noise pollution during the day; here and there, church after another all in Lunch Hour prayers. You could hardly hear any bird sing.
Then I reflected on the conversation of the two ladies in the taxi.
She could be right or wrong—the aunties in my heart started arguing. Having been a religious leader in my High School, (Catholic Charismatic Renewal Leader No.1 at Bubangizi SSS Mitooma 2013/14), an auxiliary member of the Legion Mary (Mary Cause of our Joy Presidium KIU) and a Roman Catholic Christian, I immediately thought of the Holy Sacraments, Doctrines, Rituals and Traditions in the mother church and their influence to Christianity faith.
I then recalled a WhatsApp Image I had previously received in one of the groups where I am an active participant. You all are aware that I am an online animal and so, I subscribe to various social platforms ranging from secular to religious platforms.
That Image attracted heated debates and to be sincere, abuses against the member that posted it. The image contained a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a gentleman kneeling before her in prayer. It was captioned; A full-grown up adult begging for forgiveness or blessings from two bags of cement mixed with some sand and water! It was a night to remember with abuse, condemnations and quoted Biblical scriptures against Idol worshipping.
My mind was driven so fast on the logic and evidence in the world that pastors and their agents use to persuade young catholic Christians who are feeling hurt, angry, betrayed and confused into Pentecostal or evangelical born-again churches.
Maybe, I am becoming too naïve but I believe Jesus did not establish his church for others to do the same. He prayed for unity, not to fragmentation, even though he selected human beings (with all their failings) to administer the church.
Many youths in urban Uganda where Pentecostal churches dominate have decided to fully commit to their personal walk by becoming Born Again in Kampala and Catholics / Protestants/Muslims at home because their parents are so ambivalent about evangelical Christianity.
There is a serious falling out and unravelling of many families in Uganda today. In most instances, a bigger section of the youth is agnostic with a vestigial catholic tradition while another part is committed. Due to the fear of experiencing backlash from their families, the youth independently and privately convert to Pentecostalism and will become Catholics upon returning home.
It’s no doubt that many youths today are either uncomfortable or confused with some catholic beliefs and practices; the arguments and persuasions by some Born Again Christians against the Catholic Church possibly convince them to find comfort in conversion.
A priest—I will not disclose here—recently shared with me how he was tempted to convert from Roman Catholicism to Evangelical Catholicism and how he ended up returning to where he later felt was home.
“The church, regardless of historic tradition, needs followers of Christ who understand what it means to be both Evangelical and Catholic, including embracing those with a bit different beliefs. The Roman Catholic is more charismatic. Christians only need to understand the importance of the sacraments along with the word,” the Priest said.
“I think the ideal church is Evangelical, Catholic and Pentecostal all at once, with the focus firmly on the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the Unity of the Trinity,” Frank Cough, senior Pastor.
Besides teaching unity, the Pentecostal churches have gone ahead to adopt to modernity and established projects that empower their youth believers spiritually, economically and give them moral integrity.
Because of these, many youths in Urban centers have denounced their mother churches and converted to other religious denominations hopeful to receive miracles, blessings, financial powers, marriage partners to mention but a few. Unfortunately, many have been corrupted, scammed and fear returning home.
It solely remains the responsibility of the Catholic Church and its leadership to protect their faithful youth from the persuaders as well as bring back the lost souls. If no affirmative action is done, the Catholic Church will slowly lose its members.
The writer is an Online Journalist, Advocate for Child with Disabilities, Orphans and Vulnerable Children.: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; WhatsApp: +256706640016
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