What you need to know:
- Renewal. Bishop Nathan Ahimbisibwe of South Ankole Diocese and his wife Lillian celebrated 25 years of marriage. Bishop Nathan talked to Perez Rumanzi about their journey.
On May 20, Bishop of South Ankole Diocese Nathan Ahimbisiwe and Lillian Ahimbisibwe walked arm in arm to the altar to renew their wedding vows in Ntungamo District. The entourage was constituted. A brass band played fast tempo hymns and walked with the man in purple. They stopped him. A woman waltzed towards him and the couple linked their arms, walked down the aisle.
Nathan and Lillian who wedded at St James Cathedral Ruharo on May 16, 1998 recently hosted the first lady as the chief guest. After the service, the function started and rich history through speeches.
“Can Kasamba who was our chaplain at Bishop Tucker Theological School Mukono, used to say that when you see the real one whom God chose for you, you wish to wed the next day, no need to delay. When the time for marriage came, I prayed.” Bishop Ahimbisibwe recounted.
An evangelist at a young age who became a teacher and later a priest of the church of Uganda, says the greatest challenge was how to approach a woman.
“I got saved at 17 and I got married at age of 31. Some people would think it would be very tough to approach the girl. My time came, I saw and approached her. I professed to her and she said, let us continue praying. I accepted saying prayer changes things,” he says.
Lillian a medic and Nathan a teacher met at a Christian conference at Kibubura Girls School in 1993. Both had been invited to preach. While Nathan spoke to Lillian and, it was simply a seed that matured five years later.
“I had the biblical promise that God willing, she would be the one. I kept praying up to from the first year to fifth year. God would give us some moments of interaction so that we build a foundation of courtship. She had accepted Christ in Senior Two and when we met, we knew where we were headed. We courted for five years and it came to pass,” Bishop Ahimbisibwe said.
Their wedding was preceded by Nathan’s ordination on December 21, 1997, graduation on January 16, 1998, then an introduction finally a giveaway. They would tie the knot on May 16, 1998.
The two had abstained.
“At the time of marriage, we were intact. We had been faithful to God and I loved the Bible. When temptations come, you refer to God’s word, pray. In the five years we did not do anything to make the Angels angry and we glorified God,” he said.
Nathan said, at the time of marriage he had no bride price but friends mobilised resources during his graduation ceremony in January 1998.
“I did not have bride price by the way but, people gave me the cows for bride price and the wedding. I graduated on January 16, paid bride price in February and wedded in May . God worked in five months,” he added.
At age 31 when he got married. This did not come without challenges as many women approached him.
“One day, a girl said to me, ‘Nathan you are nothing to me like the eyes of a cow’ this figuratively was a sexual advance. I did not comply because for me I knew it was wrong. I kept preaching the Gospel. The bible says, flee for your life so, I would duuka misinde. Otherwise if you kept around them, the magnet would catch you,” he recounted.
In the five years of dating, the two met at conferences, and in open hotels or at the beach. They too discussed plans for their future, drew pictures of their family and this resulted in a cemented relationship. They prayed together, shared meals and since there were no phones, they would walk to meet each other.
They held a reception at Mbarara High School where he was a teacher and later, chaplain. They describe their marriage as fresh.
The lovebirds were treated to a honeymoon in Queen Elizabeth National Park which at the time was a conflict area with the ADF attacks, but were much protected.
“God has blessed us with six children. God has been gracious to us,” Bishop Ahimbisibwe said.
With many couples living far from each other, separations leading to divorce have increased. Bishop Ahimbisibwe notes the challenges affecting families are mainly work-related, but says much that is need is patience.
“It’s important that they become patient, marriage needs extra grace, extra love, extra shock absorbers, and resources. When people do not have extras, they just live an artificial life; outside they are okay, but inside they are bleeding from marital challenges,” he explained.
With the first lady as chief guest the Bishop had a housewarming because he had been living in the pastoral house at St Mathew Cathedral, Kyamate. More than 2,000 people from all walks of life attended and contributed to the celebration’s success.
“I had to tame many things because on the celebration day, I was almost going out to harvest coffee, but remembered it was our anniversary celebrations. God was glorified on the day of our anniversary and we want to thank all the people who participated in organising, gave money and other resources. May God reward them foerever,” he
Ms Ahimbisibwe noted that 25 years have been great with few challenges, especially those that come with raising children.
“We still live everyday like newlyweds and the Gospel is our bread,” she said.
Ankole Diocese Bishop Dr Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa officiatedat the event. Ten other Bishops attended the function.
Groom: Rt Rev Nathan Ahimbisibwe
Bride: Maama Lillian Ahimbisibwe
Best man: Rev Milton Tweheyo
Matron: Ms Annet Tumwine
Church: St Mathew Cathedral , Kyamate
Videography: Ark Studios Mbarara
Catering: Sweet Mart Hotel Ntungamo