Bro. William Okello's Testimony
How the Message Came to Uganda
I only had a second-hand knowledge of how the Message was established in Uganda, therefore much of the following report is based solely on information that I received. There is, consequently, a distinct possibility of inaccuracies in my telling of the story; except, of course, where I was personally involved.
The Message of the hour arrived in Uganda via Kenya during 1974/75. From what I was able to gather a brother from Kenya who had been to the States and come in contact with the believers introduced it into Kenya. That brother was later to be pastor of the Mombassa church and during my stay in Kenya I did meet him a couple of times. The prophet during his lifetime did not visit East Africa and so the region, unlike South Africa had had no direct impact from his ministry.
The Message's first port of call in Uganda was Soroti, my hometown. There is located at Soroti the East African flying school, formally known as Soroti Flying School which is used for training pilots and aircraft technicians for the whole of East Africa. Among its students at that time was one from Kenya who was a believer of the Message. There was also then a sizeable Scripture Union fellowship in that area that brought together born again Christians from various denominations especially the Pentecostal groups. Leading brothers took it in turns to minister during the services and this brother too got an opportunity once in a while to preach. Because the Message had been resisted and persecuted in Kenya, this brother, fearing persecution, did not make direct mention of the Message or the prophet in his sermons. However it was quickly noticed that his preaching was not only quite different, but everything he said sounded so right and brought out from the Bible truths that were not otherwise apparent. A number of believers took interest and became inquisitive requiring to know of him from whence he got these things. At first he was reluctant to speak up but when prevailed upon, he told them about a man whom God had used several years earlier and he confessed that the things he preached were from this man's books. The brothers who were curious asked of him whether he had some books available to lend out and when he said yes, they accompanied him to his dormitory where he brought out the books from their hiding place. When these believers had read these books, they straight away declared the Message to be the truth.
Among these brothers was one who was later to tell me his personal testimony. He had been a herd's boy in the extreme Northeast of the country among his people who were largely nomadic pastoralists. Because his parents were quite poor, he did not go far in school but quickly dropped out barely able to read or write let alone speak the English language. To earn a living he exercised the only skill he knew - herding cattle. Then one day, he met a rich man who owned a large herd of cows and who offered to take him on and this man brought him from his home district to Soroti to look after his cattle. He built a tent for himself next to the cow pen and he passed the nights lying on his bed smoking bhang (cannabis). One night, while in this state, a cross of light appeared before him and a voice spoke, instructing him to go to the home of the local Pentecostal leader and ask him to pray for him. Trembling, he cast away the cannabis, stood up, and did as he was told. After giving his life to Christ and being prayed for, he joined the local Pentecostal church in 1971 and became a minister. He further told me that this voice again spoke to him and told him two things: first that there had been a man mightily used of God in this generation and that one day his books would arrive in the country and he was to preach whatever he read out of those books; second he was told that he would be able to read and write and speak the English language (another brother testified to me how that this brother one day stood up and to the amazement of all present took the King James Bible and began preaching boldly - in English!).
Thus when the prophet's books became available at the Scripture Union camp, this brother recalled the prophecies given to him by that voice. Now an Englishman, who in his earlier days had apparently known about brother Branham, led this Scripture Union group. Word soon got out that there was a group within the Scripture Union who no longer believed in the 'trinity' and who taught that baptism in the 'name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit' was wrong. The Englishman demanded to know what was going on and who these people were. He was further informed that this particular group also believed that God had sent a prophet by the name of William Branham. At the mention of the name of William Branham, this man became furious and sounded a warning to his congregation against having anything to do with the books declaring him a false prophet whom he knew quite well. When the brothers heard this, they were very much discouraged and did not know what to do next. However, God in his faithfulness did not abandon them. Prophecies began coming up in the meetings calling for a separation. At first they were not clearly understood but after sometime it became obvious what was meant. They had to come out of the Scripture Union and establish themselves as a fellowship of Message believers and this they did. A good number of them were secondary school students who later went for higher education in the capital city of Kampala and some to Entebbe (as I stated earlier, the Entebbe group were later to join my family in fellowship). In Kampala these believers interacted with students from different parts of the country and some of them were quite enthusiastic and boldly declared the Message to their fellow students.
Then the Message found its way into the Deliverance Church, which at that time was considered the most spiritual church in Uganda if not the whole of East Africa. As a result it suffered large-scale defections into the Message as the hand of God moved upon the people. This church therefore at that time became a leading persecutor of the Message but could not prevail. To day it is virtually unheard of while the Message has encompassed the whole country with over 150 churches.
Despite all this however there was no established church in Kampala. The believers were mostly students who would later return to their hometowns. The first established church there started in 1980 when I moved to Kampala from Entebbe after the war and God led me to bring together a few scattered believers into a proper church.
(Next: Continuation of my Life Story with War in the Country and Further Trials)