According to Morning Star Ministries, a Pentecostal pastor in Eastern Uganda was allegedly killed by Muslim extremists shortly after engaging in a public debate between Christianity and Islam.
Muslims in Pallisa Town, where Pastor Thomas Chikooma has his church, had been holding nightly discussions in a community park and decided as part of this to set up a public debate between Christianity and Islam.
Though only 14% of Ugandans are Muslim, they are concentrated in the eastern region of the country where the debate took place.
The Islamic group invited Pastor Chikooma, a popular minister who had established over 50 churches in the area, to speak on behalf of Christianity during the debate between to the two faiths.
However, things did not go as anticipated for the Muslim organizers as Pastor Chikooma effectively used both the Bible and the Koran to present his case for Christianity. At the end, he invited those watching to receive Christ and according to reports, 14 people, including six Muslims, made a decision to become Christians.
This turn of events angered several Muslim extremists in the crowd who began shouting “Allah Akbar” and the decision was made for Chikooma to quickly leave the meeting.
As he drove away on his motorcycle, he was followed by several Muslims on bikes. When Pastor Chikooma did not return home, the family began searching for him and eventually found his decapitated body. His tongue had also been cut out.
Morning Star reports that the senseless murder has been a devastating blow for the family and church, and is asking for prayer.
Though, he died for his faith, Pastor Chikooma used the Koran in his successful defence of the Christianity among Muslims, and this has been seen before.
Mari Joseph, now deceased, was an Islamic Imam in India before converting to Catholicism and becoming a Catholic teacher. He says that the Koran speaks a lot about Christ.
He noted that the Koran considers Jesus as one of Islam’s prophets (Surah 2:136) and gives Him a much more prominent role (mentioned 25 times) compared to Mohammad who is only cited three times.
Though the Koran does not believe that Jesus was crucified, it says that the disciples only thought this happened (Surah 4:157-158), it does record that Jesus did not die and was taken up to heaven still alive.
The Koran adds that in the end times, Jesus will return along with the Islamic Messiah (masih) to set up Muslim rule in the world. This again contrasts with Mohammad who died and will not return.
The prominence given Jesus in the Koran, led Mari to start questioning the differences between Christianity and Islam.
What eventually led to Mari becoming a Christian was a verse in the Koran that encouraged Muslims who are struggling with their faith to read the Bible:
So if you (O Muhammad SAW) are in doubt concerning that which We have revealed unto you, [i.e. that your name is written in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] then ask those who are reading the Book [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] before you. Verily, the truth has come to you from your Lord. So be not of those who doubt (it). (Koran 24:10)
As he started reading the Bible, alongside the Koran, this led to a roller coaster type of faith, where Mari thought himself a Christian one day and then the next day he considered himself a Muslim.
But there was a passage in the Gospel of John that caught his attention as it revealed the stark contrast between Allah and the God of the Bible.
The Koran teaches that people are the slaves of Allah, but in John 1:12, the Apostle wrote that those who believed in Jesus would become the children of God. And this was in line with the Koran that describes Jesus as being compassionate (Surah 57:27).
Realizing, that this was the type of son-relationship that he wanted with his Heavenly Father, Mari made the decision to become a Christian. After his conversion, he was abandoned by his family (who actually held a funeral for him) and throughout his ministry was threatened several times because of his decision to leave Islam.
READ: Pastor Slain after Leading Muslims to Christ at Religious Debate AND The Dangerous Road from Imam to Catholic Preacher: An Interview with Mario Joseph AND Former imam: God saved me from torture after Christian conversion