Courageous husband and wife reunite after six years of ‘hell’
"Your gun is your wife, bullets are your children, the food and bombs represent your mother. From today, forget your parents and family," Godfrey Surundu remembers being told while on a mission to fight Joseph Kony's rebel army.
"Had I known this before, I would have gone home with my wife and children rather than join the army," he says in retrospect.
Yet Godfrey was a different man back then, a "defeated man", he says.
This sense of defeat came from not being able to adequately provide for his family's financial needs while working in the Ugandan police force.
This lead to Godfrey's decision to abandon his family and join the Uganda People's Defence Forces fighting the Kony rebels on the Ugandan and south Sudan border.
"I deceived my wife, Jacky, that I was visiting a sick friend in Western Uganda. My poor wife was left in the police barracks without any money," he admits.
Little did he know that while his battalion was unsuccessfully searching for Kony for the next six months, the rebels had abducted his wife.
Miserable and left without a salary, clean clothes or purified water, Godfrey's thoughts turned to promises in the Bible, which he had heard in church growing up.
He remembered the promise of Psalm 23, given to those who trust in God: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."
Godfrey thanks God for protection during this time: "God kept me from becoming sick from the water. He made me strong as I moved with the heavy loads."
Eighteen months later his unit fought against Vincent Oti's rebels where two of his friends were killed and he was left hiding among the dead bodies.
It was upon his return to Uganda that Godfrey heard the devastating news that his children were suffering in the village and his wife was most likely dead.
"I started to drink and smoke to forget everything about my family. When the drunkenness wore off, I had even more overwhelming thoughts to fight the rebels and rescue my wife."
Instead he decided to marry a Congolese woman to provide his two children with a mother.
"My children could not recognise me before I introduced myself to them. My children and I cried for Jacky," he recalls sadly.
He set up his new wife and children in the Bombo barracks without knowing that Jacky, who had since been rescued from the Kony rebels, was also living in Bombo.
"I had no idea that Jacky was still alive," Godfrey says. "She had trained as a grade three teacher and was deployed in the same school as my children.
"She passed by my office building on her way to school, but when I saw her I thought she was a different person, as she now had a gap in her teeth. My daughter Phiona shouted to me one day, 'I saw mum.'"
After crying for a week, Godfrey approached Jacky on her way to the school. Initially she did not recognise him but eventually broke into tears, explaining that she thought Godfrey was also dead.
"What a miracle to see my supposedly dead wife alive again – more beautiful, educated and a responsible wife and mother," Godfrey remembers.
Sadly, this created problems because Godfrey had a new wife who began mistreating his children out of jealousy. She used witchcraft on Godfrey, hoping this would make him more attached to her.
After his daughter Phiona ran away and his new wife's baby died, Godfrey admits he made a bad decision to use witchcraft so that his wife would have another child.
"Things worsened in my house and work, there was no peace at all. From 2005 to 2006, I could only see death coming to me," Godfrey admits.
"Little did I know that Jacky was praying to the Almighty God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for her family to come back together."
One night Jacky's children abandoned their new mother to be with Jacky again. Godfrey says he began to cry as he saw their family reunited the following morning.
"I prayed, 'God, you are merciful, forgive me for what I have done, let me see your glory, peace, joy, love and kindness in my life."
Then he turned to Jacky and said, "Forgive me".
Jacky replied: "Don't kneel before me, but kneel before God. You promised to love me until death do us part. I am still alive and this is why you have come back."
A week later Godfrey kept his promise to God and to Jacky. He sent his former wife back to her parents and Jacky and Godfrey reunited in marriage in November 2007.
"We rejoiced together and praised God. In June 2008, Jacky gave birth to a baby boy, whom we named Aita, which means faith," Godfrey says.
"I thank God for the work He has done in my life! He delivered me from a world of darkness, witchcraft, drunkenness, smoking, prostitution, and so on."
For those reading his story, Godfrey says, "If God is your source of strength and help, there is hope for you in heaven, but if you trust in man, the result is [everlasting] death, so choose the best for you and your family. Choose life in Christ Jesus." •