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5/29/97 Woes with AIDS, family members fail to derail his new faith

KAMPALA, Uganda (BP)–AIDS led William Maseruka to Christ. As if suffering the deadly disease weren’t enough, he also has suffered for his faith.
Because of his refusal to participate in spirit worship, his brothers and sisters disavowed him and took his inheritance.
Now he lives in a windowless mud hut in a village near Kampala. There, sitting on a pile of sweet potatoes, with his wife and five of his six children around him, Maseruka (Mah-sah-ROOK-ah) told his story.
“In 1987, I was discovered by doctors to have the HIV virus in my blood. I denied it for some years. ‘No, it can’t happen to me.’ I denied it right up to 1990 when we lost our baby who was 1 year old. The baby had the virus, and she died from the problem.”
None of the couple’s other children has been diagnosed with AIDS. Maseruka’s wife, Margaret, is infected.
The couple became involved with Kampala Baptist Church’s ministry for AIDS patients. One Saturday a group from the church presented a play, “The Virus and the Cross.” “We thought we had come to the dead end, but the play was giving us some hope that in Jesus Christ there is eternal hope,” said Maseruka, 36.
“I told my wife, ‘We better accept Jesus Christ as our Savior because there is no other alternative.’ Then if we die, at least we will reap this eternal life that Jesus Christ gives.” Maseruka said his wife’s response was, “We have enough problems already. You will just be adding to them. Just accept death.”
Maseruka wouldn’t give up. He began preaching to his wife. And he met Patrick Galabuzi, head of Kampala church’s AIDS ministry.
Eventually, William and Margaret Maseruka became Christians and Baptists.
Because of Maseruka’s commitment to Christianity, his brothers have become hostile. “I inherited a big property (including shops) from my father,” he said, “but because I accepted Jesus Christ, my relatives booted me out.”
Eight months ago, the Maserukas had twins. Traditionally, members of his family’s tribe, Granda, make sacrifices to their gods for twins. When Maseruka refused, the hostility of his relatives increased. Another family member died of AIDS, and Maseruka was blamed for the death.
If the spirits aren’t blessed, “relatives look at you as a killer,” he said. “They think that spirit will come through the whole family and kill and torture them.”
Maseruka and his wife decided to move. They built a one-room house near Kabeere Baptist Church, the church Maseruka has started in an area where few people have heard about Jesus. He holds services and she visits families, inviting them to church.
Margaret Maseruka said, “I feel free (since becoming a Christian). I am happy.”
Maseruka said his brothers tell him: “Our father chose you to be his heir, to carry on his responsibilities, and some of the duties as heir are these rituals.”
“I say: ‘I have abandoned that. I will not drop Jesus Christ.'”