He ditched the bottle to answer the altar call

Bishop Samuel Gidudu told David Kazungu about his timely turning point from alcoholism to a life dedicated to serving God.

Sunday December 14 2014

Bishop Samuel Gidudu at his consecration ceremony

Bishop Samuel Gidudu at his consecration ceremony held on Novemeber 16, 2014 at St Matthew’s Cathedral in Buhugu, Sironko District. Gidudu is the fourth bishop of Mbale North Mbale Diocese. Photo by David Kazungu. 

The 46-year-old Bishop Samuel Gidudu of North Mbale Diocese was consecrated on November 16, 2014 at St Matthew’s Cathedral, Buhugu in Sironko District. The father of three, who is married to Ms Esther Gidudu, spoke about growing up amid wealth and then getting lost in a vice which nearly cost him his calling.

QN: Bishop Gidudu, how did you feel when you heard you were the bishop-elect of North Mbale Diocese?
A: (Laughs). At first, I thought the person who called to give the information was fooling me but I later asked myself, “Why should I be a doubting Thomas?” I composed myself and prayed about it and from then on, I started receiving calls from all over the country congratulating me upon the election.
I was actually humbled by the election. I believe that it is the amazing love and grace of God that I was appointed to be the next shepherd of the Christians of North Mbale Diocese.

QN: Tell us more about your background
A: I was born in 1968 to Mr Elisa Bwairisa and Ms Kerenuka Nadunga. I went to P.1 in 1978 at Bulambuli Primary School before joining Bukonde Secondary School for S1 in 1984. I sat for Senior Four in 1987 but could not continue after that.

QN: Why couldn’t you continue after that?
A: I was born in a wealthy but illiterate family. We had a lot of coffee, matooke and cows which my father banked on and refused to pay my school fees, saying why continue going to school when there is a lot of wealth to inherit? Education to my parents was not a priority.

When I was circumcised in 1988, my father gave me a share of the family property and advised me to get married. Being a young man, I joined peer groups, sold the coffee and matooke which was in abundance and then drank myself silly with the proceeds. By 1990, I was a drunkard.

QN: How did you overcome drunkenness?
A: One day, my maternal uncle, Abdul Masaba, a long serving teacher and a former sub-county chief invited me to his home and asked me why I had become a nuisance and disgrace to society.

I was embarrassed by his statement but had no reply. He then asked me if I would go back to school if there was money. I answered in the affirmative and he advised me to start involving myself in church activities. He said if I reformed, he would pay my school fees.

At first, it was a very difficult situation because I was now addicted but the day I went to church, I heard the Lord calling and telling me that it was I that he was waiting for.

QN: How have you found pastoral work since you turned away from alcoholism?
A: Pastoral work is a calling. You cannot wake up one morning and say you are a leader in the church without God’s blessing and above all, call. You need to be patient in whatever you do because the church has a lot of challenges, for instance, some Christians view church ministers as professional beggars but as a devoted church leader, I have to bear with the challenge and continue serving the Lord.
QN: What advice would you give young people who are victims of a similar past?
A: I know there are many of them suffering out there, but I can only tell them to accept the Lord as their saviour and also to be patient as they wait for God’s grace to come their way. They need to be devoted Christians, especially because the youth are the leaders of tomorrow. Parents should also ensure that their children grow up in the church to avoid the moral degeneration that we are currently experiencing.

TIMELINE

June 6, 1968: Born in Bunamakongo village to Mr Elisa Bwairisa and Ms Kerenuka Nadunga in Buyobo Sub-county, Sironko District.
1978: Joined Primary One at Bulambuli Primary School.
1984: Joined Bukonde Secondary School for S.1.
1987: Sat Senior Four examinations
1988: Gidudu’s father gave him a share of the family property and advised him to get married, but instead, he became a drunkard
1997: Accepted Jesus Christ and reformed.
1998: Sat mature age entry exams at UCU Buwalasi campus and passed to study for a certificate in Theology.
2001: Won a scholarship to study for a diploma in Theology at UCU, Mukono.
2002: Ordained priest in the Diocese of North Mbale.
2007: Enrolled for Bachelor of Theology at UCU Mukono campus after being selected among five members of the clergy to be sponsored by State House.
2009: Completed Bachelors degree.
2010: Enrolled for a Master’s degree in Theology.
November 16, 2014: Consecrated the third Bishop of Mbale North diocese at St Mathew’s Cathedral, Buhugu in Sironko district. Gidudu succeeded Rt Rev Daniel Gimadu who was retiring.

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