‘If I die where is my soul going?’ Margaret wondered
The right words give life, but harsh words can bring terrible suffering, something Margaret Birungi of Uganda knows only too well.
“My family’s poverty meant I went to live with my grandmother, but after my mother took me back home, she would be very harsh with me and tell me I would become a slut when I grew up,” Margaret remembers.
Due to these hurtful words and having to finish her education early at second senior year, Margaret admits she began living irresponsibly.
“I joined bad girl groups that lead to sexual relationships as an adolescent. By age 17, I was pregnant, but sadly my child passed away.
“Two years later, I had another baby amid great financial hardship. The general poverty of that time affected my siblings as well, and eventually five of them died.”
As she grieved about her siblings, Margaret was further devastated with the news that she had HIV AIDS.
“This robbed me of strength and I became very thin. Everybody, including myself, began to worry that I was next to die. I also developed sores and a rash all over my body, which was like the smell of death.”
Expecting to die, just as her siblings and one of her own children had, Margaret began to recall the joy she felt when her grandmother took her to church as a child, where she heard about eternal life.
“As I endured the sores and general weakness, I said to myself, ‘Life is over, but what will be the resting place of my soul?’
“This made me remember how my grandmother, who was a born again Christian, had inspired me to a better way of living and told me about heaven. When I was seven, I had begun to love God.”
Now wanting to know God personally, Margaret began listening to Christian programs on the radio. She heard that God created the world good and even as mankind has selfishly rebelled against their Creator, Jesus Christ, God the Son, became a man, died on a cross to take our punishment, and then was resurrected from the dead.
Margaret continues: “I heard many testimonies of how God had saved people from their sins when they asked Jesus to forgive them. Plus, many were healed of their sickness as well.
“So I said in my heart, ‘I am too empty and very wicked, I will trust God whether or not He heals me, because then I will know that my soul is saved from eternal destruction.
“In February 2001, I started going to church where the preaching from the Word of God preached helped me trust in Jesus more, and I saw how God was miraculously helping and healing people as they testified in church.
“This was when my husband had no job, we were sick and desperate for help. We needed daily therapy of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs to survive but we couldn’t afford it.
“One day I said to God, ‘God, I know how sinful I am to you, but I ask you to forgive me of all my sins. I believe that Jesus purchased forgiveness for my sins when He died on the cross. I want to live the remaining days of my life as your servant. Jesus I welcome you into my heart.’
“From this day I knew I was forgiven of my sin and I started to lose the fear of death and grew in faith, praying and asking God to cleanse me of sin, to change my heart and heal me.”
“In 2009, I developed a confidence in God that He had made me well and that the HIV AIDS was gone. I was taking the ARV drugs still, but in February 2010, I received strength from God to be tested at the health centre, where it was found that I was HIV negative.
“I couldn’t believe it from just one test, so I returned in May 2011 and the result was confirmed.”
Margaret then told a local Daily Newspaper about the miraculous healing and many people began calling her to confirm the story was true.
“God broke the spirit of death in my family,” Margaret testifies. “Knowing Jesus has changed my view of the world, from being very bitter and blaming everybody for my condition, to new hope in the Lord.
“My husband saw the change in me, so he has chosen to trust in Jesus Christ also.
“I am still enjoying good health today and my husband now has a good job at the Senoma Christian Secondary School.”
Since she has shared her story in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC, Margaret reports that many people have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour because they have seen the difference Jesus makes.
“Finally, I encourage those who are HIV positive to continue with the ARV therapy, but remember that God can heal any disease,” Margaret concludes.