Bro. William Okello's Testimony
In the first part of this story, I set out my childhood in a nutshell up to the year 1975. At that point in time I had come to believe in the truth of the Bible. One experience however that I omitted in that article which was also to have a profound effect upon my faith had taken place earlier, about 1971. It was at secondary school and a gifted preacher had been granted permission by the headmaster to hold meetings at the school's main hall. A number of us boys who were sceptical about 'savedness' and the reality of God stood by the windows to observe the proceedings. This man spoke with such power and certainty that it left a deep impression upon me. At the end of the sermon he prayed such an anointed prayer the entire hall was electrified by tearful cries and screams of repentance. Needless to say, it did create a fear of God in me for I had never before witnessed an occasion whereby people were overwhelmed by the reality of God's presence. Those services caused such a stir in the school that the headmaster, fearing for his job, banned that minister from the school.
Back to 1975. By that time I had been close to Joyce (now my wife) for a number of years. We had been to primary school together in 1968, sat in the same class and (as she likes to recount) shared the same desk. I am not too sure about the seating arrangement, but her memory is obviously clearer than mine on this. What I do know is that she was a close friend of my young aunt who was also in the same class with us. Then I began to feel affliction in my body in the form of chest pains. At that time I did not realize that this was the tool that God would use to drive me to salvation. These pains put a fear in my heart that caused me to believe I had been poisoned. The reason for this fear was because of what had happened to my uncle a few months earlier. We had grown up together, gone to school together right up to secondary school. No bully messed me at school because he always took care of them. To put it mildly, we were very close as friends too. Then he was struck down by chest pains and died in October 1974. It was strongly believed by most that he had been poisoned. Since we had often travelled to social functions together, I believed strongly that my ailment had been caused at the same time and I began to fear the worst and started to look for a remedy. Since I was still basically an unbeliever, my first recourse was to a native doctor who also doubled as a diviner and who lived a few villages across from my own. Joyce came along with me and when we reached this man's home, he sat me down and through his divination pointed an accusing finger at a neighbour of mine as being the culprit responsible for my troubles. The diagnosis was crude but persuasive enough for me to yield to his treatment. The 'treatment' could hardly be described as pleasant. He obtained a brand new razor blade and cut fresh wounds all over my body into which he rubbed the medicines. He gave me assurance that all would be well. I left that place wishing I had never gone through with such blatant violation of my body. Fortunately for me, my body does not easily leave scars.
About that time Joyce was going to be a mother. Both of us had been admitted to university and we had to make a decision as to which of us would work to support the forthcoming baby and who had to study. During those days the East African Community (a body similar to the European Union and grouping together Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania) was still in existence. It was the most sought after employer in the region and when vacancies for trainee air traffic controllers came up I applied for one. I was accepted and I travelled to the East African School of Aviation based at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Kenya while Joyce went to Makerere University.
While in Nairobi, I still sought for treatment for my pains. The hospitals had not carried out any serious examination of me and so I went to an astrologer. This astrologer was well known all over East Africa, claimed to be the best in the world and advertised regularly in the papers. When I arrived at this man's clinic, I found a long queue of patients had already formed. The queue however moved quickly and I was soon to discover why. When my turn came, before I could utter a word he took my palm, examined it for a few seconds, told me he knew what the problem was and prescribed a remedy. I protested to him that I hadn't even told him which part of my body ached me and that I thought it best for him to hear me first. But he would have none of it. He told me he knew what the problem was and as well he knew what the cure was and as such I should trust him. Then this man took a considerable sum of money from me and handed me a shiny, black piece of stone which he instructed me to dissolve each morning in a cup of tea with my breakfast and to go back for more should the supply run out. But no matter how much sugar I put in the tea, its taste remained awfully bitter due to the presence of that drug. After a few months of this unpalatable and futile treatment I discarded the stuff. Then I began to ponder about God. That preacher who I had listened to at secondary school was a co-founder of a Christian sect that had gained quite a reputation in East Africa among the born again Christians. It went by the name Deliverance Church and preached not just deliverance from sin but divine healing too. I had tried hospitals and diviners for my healing but to no avail. Perhaps my salvation lay with these people. I resolved to become 'saved'. By then Joyce and I had become married. During holidays she would travel to Nairobi to be with me where also I was looking after our child (you know him as Bill) with the help of a housemaid. I made an attempt to find a branch of the Deliverance Church in Nairobi, but strangely enough could not locate them even though I knew they had the largest following in Kenya. I was living in a block of flats among the other trainee air traffic controllers who had opted against staying in hotels but instead had taken flats. Among them was one from Uganda. We were not familiar friends since he attended a different class, but I soon came to realize he was a born again Christian and regularly went to church.
One day while I was standing in the open space chatting with a group of my friends, I spotted this brother coming back from church. I signalled him to stop, went over and after a brief introduction I told him boldly that I wanted to become 'saved'. Would I come to church the following Sunday, he asked me. Yes, I would I replied, but did not. It was the Sunday after that following one that I showed up with my wife, son and the housemaid. This was in June/July 1976 and my first step into a Message Church. I cannot recall what the sermon was, but here were preachers that spoke with the same power as that preacher. Perhaps I had found a Deliverance Church after all.
At the end of the service, the preacher asked those who wished to be saved to put up their hands. Joyce and I hesitated and looked at one another, not sure what to do. Then I put up my hand and she followed suit. Later we were driven to the Nairobi Dam and baptized by immersion in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I remember the two leading ministers, Brother Obadiah Kamwati (who was later confirmed Pastor, and still is) and Brother Johnson Ibuka who baptized us and became a close friend. When we returned to our residence, the brother who had taken us to church invited me to his flat and handed me the Seven Seals book. The first words my eyes fell on were, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:" Then I noticed the Cloud picture hanging on the wall. It occurred to me that there was something supernatural about all this and God created an intense desire in me to know more. There was a plentiful supply of books coming from the Spoken Word publications and I read as many books as I could find. I became aware of other world-renowned evangelists, but found out none could compare to the prophet and I believed the Message with all my heart. Then the time came for my course to end and I had to return to Uganda.
I will take this up in part three of the story.