By Arthur Baguma
His work at Makerere university has shaped me into a God-fearing person. I joined campus with many adventurous plans which are directly linked to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Pastor Martin Ssempa warned me of another degree tha
By Arthur Baguma
His work at Makerere university has shaped me into a God-fearing person. I joined campus with many adventurous plans which are directly linked to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Pastor Martin Ssempa warned me of another degree that would lead to death through HIV/AIDS. His abstinence message echoes in my ear always. He made me understand how one night of sexual pleasure can ruin your entire future with HIV/AIDS. I have remained a virgin and I am proud of that till marriage.
This is the story of Memory Drileba, 23, a finalist of Bachelors of Agriculture at Makerere University. His testimony is one from the many who have passed through the hands of Pastor Ssempa.
Gorrety Juma Imelah, the library and information officer at Ndejje University-Kampala, says she became a member of Pastor Ssempa's revolutionary crusade against HIV/AIDS in her first year at university in 2005. Ssempaâ€™s ministry, through the Prime Time, which is about preventing HIV/AIDS among young people nurtured her to be assertive and say no to sex before marriage. â€œMen have approached me for sex but the pastor's principles and skills have helped me to stay focused,â€ she adds.
It is a similar tale from Christian Lewis, a student of bachelors of arts business management at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa. â€œI first learned about the Pastor through his work in the international documentary â€œMiss HIVâ€ which was aired at my college in the USA. After hearing Ssempaâ€™s pro-life and pro-family message, along with his common sense approach to reducing HIV/AIDS, I was inspired to contact him and learn more from his organisations and teachings. I was motivated and decided to move to Uganda to live and work for his Global Aids Prevention Initiative.
Martin Ssempa is one of the people who have consistently promoted abstinence as the only effective tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS among the youth.
In the 1990s unwanted pregnancies were common and it was fashionable for girls to get pregnant in their final year at Makerere University. However, the inception of Prime Time changed this trend. Ugandaâ€™s HIV/AIDS prevalence rates have declined from 18% in the 1990s to about 6.4% today.
After surviving HIV/AIDS narrowly as a youth, Ssempa set out to save others. First, his brother, followed by his sister succumbed to the disease and he thinks he was slated to follow if he did not change his ways.
He recalls sitting by the death bed of his sister and brother 18 years ago saying their problem was promiscuity.
It hit him hard that AIDS was staring in his face if he did not change his lifestyle. â€œI was a cool guy leading a promiscuous life. Their death led me to find redemption,â€ Ssempa reveals.
During his teenage years, Ssempa who was East Africaâ€™s break dance champion was a celebrity, which came with promiscuity. He buried his dreams of becoming an international artiste and gave his life to Christ at the Baptist Youth Centre in Wandegeya and embarked on a countrywide sensitisation of the youth about HIV/AIDS.
His works culminated in the formation of Prime Time at Makerere University. Prime Time is a social vaccine to loneliness peer pressure and the challenges linked to HIV/AIDS problems among the youth. About 3,500 students meet every week at the university poolside to listen to a man who admits to have lived a promiscuous life.
Like many of the students in his congregation, Ssempa did not have an easy childhood. His mother died without revealing to him who his father was. â€œI was born out of wedlock, thatâ€™s all my late mother told me,â€ he says. â€œI know the pain of growing up without a father.â€
The story about his life is a major source of inspiration to the students who go for Prime Time.
Born in 1968 in Masaka, Ssempa joined Makerere University in 1988 and graduated with a bachelorâ€™s degree in social sciences. In 1992 he enrolled at the Philadelphia Biblical University for a masterâ€™s degree in biblical counselling.
Simon Peter Onaba
I joined Makerere University in 2001 and thought then I was Godâ€™s gift to all the women my eyes could see.
During the first week, I was introduced to a happening event at the swimming pool. I enjoyed the fun, music, and the message of the speaker. I noticed that the fun was clean, no one got drunk and there were no sexual innuendos. The speaker that night, Pastor Ssempa, talked about how campus could be either a graveyard or grapevine.
That night, I made a commitment never to have sex until my wedding night with my bride. I joined the Prime Time drama team where we would do abstinence outreaches based on life experiences.
I met a young lady, Hadassah, who later became a very close friend. Our friendship grew and in her I saw what I desired in a wife. Prime Time supported both of us in our abstinence journey. â€œWe got married in 2005 and now spend time counselling and supporting students to stay alive,â€ he adds.
Timothy and Rhona
We got to know Pastor Martin Ssempa while at university through Prime Time. We have been able to wait and look forward to getting married and continue being faithful as inspired by Ssempa and his wife. We are so grateful to the Pastor and his wife for putting all their efforts that we may be better people in future.
When I joined the Law Development Centre in 2001, I was born again, but never conquered sexual temptations.
While at university, I started attending Prime Time and Makerere Community Church. These places provided a positive environment and the best alternative that kept my mind from sexual corruption. I learnt from the peers mentored by Pastor Ssempa that sex was only proper in marriage.
Pastor Ssempaâ€™s relentless message on abstinence has become a song in my heart. With his help, I chose abstinence and have remained faithful for eight years. I have delivered and made a promise to myself and to my fiancee, Stella, until we marry next month.
Name: Martin Ssempa
Location: Makerere Community Church
Contribution: Preaches abstinence among the youth and faithfulness for the married
Contact: 0414543765, 0772641028
Do you know anyone who has played an important role in the fight against HIV/AIDS in their communities? Nominate the person, indicating name, phone contact and what the person has done in his/her community to help people PREVENT HIV infection. Also give your name and phone number. Write to: The Features Editor, The New Vision, P.O Box 9815, Kampala. or email: email@example.com
Ssempa advocates abstinence to fight HIV/AIDS among the youth