First South Ankole Diocesan Bishop

Nathan-Ahimbisibwe-compressedThe Rt. Rev. Nathan Ahimbisibwe was consecrated and installed on the 8th January 2012 at Kyamate Hill in Ntugamo Southwestern Uganda.

Hither to he was Chaplain at St James chapel Makerere University Business School. He was elected by the House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Uganda on September 28 as the first bishop of the new diocese that was carved out of Ankole and West Ankole dioceses.

Married to Mrs. Lillian Ahimbisibwe with four children, the clergyman is also an author of a book “The Submarine Christian”, which takes a swipe at hypocrisy of some believers who are pious on Sundays and do all kinds of evil the rest of the week.

He holds a Master of Arts in Christian Education degree from the Reformed Theological Seminary, USA; a Bachelor of Divinity of Makerere University from Bishop Tucker Theological College (now Uganda Christian University, Mukono) and a Diploma in Education from the former Kakoba NTC (now Bishop Stuart University.)

He also went to Masheruka Boys Primary School and Masheruka Secondary School, before joining Mbarara High School for the rest of his secondary education (1983-1988.)

Ahimbisibwe, 46, joined priesthood in 1997 under the diocese of Ankole and was appointed Canon of St. Peter’s cathedral Bweranyangi in 2010 year. He has previously served as a teacher at Mbarara High School (1990- 2008) where he also served as Chaplain (1997- 2008) and lecturer at Bishop Stuart University in Mbarara and also served as Director of Admissions/ lecturer at Uganda Bible Institute.

All his former students testify they learnt many of life’s virtues from him.“This, he demonstrated in words and deeds, earning himself nicknames, albeit for good. He would many times come to class running, just to keep time. As a chaplain, Ahimbisibwe always spoke at the daily school assemblies and he never ceased beseeching students to be focused, visionary, rational and thoughtful before making any decision in life” Michael Mubangizi,Narrates

He had liking for the words “see far” which he repeatedly used to ask students to reflect on possible consequences of their actions. This became synonymous with him and students nicknamed him “See Far.”

Ahimbisibwe appears to have maintained good relationships with his former students, following up on even private issues in their lives. On September 16, two weeks before he was appointed bishop, Ahimbisibwe commented on a Facebook page of his former student at Mbarara High School Pius Baruga, who had written to him reminiscing the good times at the school because of him. The clergyman replied: “Good to hear from you Pius. Is that lady on the Facebook photo the one to wed with you someday? Blessings.”

The appointment

Ahimbisibwe told The Observer that he never expected the appointment.

“I didn’t know that I would become a bishop. God just surprised me. But it is very humbling and amazing.”

Ahimbisibwe hopes to nurture a model diocese with special focus on people’s spirituality, discipleship, evangelism, education and improving household incomes by starting income generating projects. The clergyman also commented on the rise in unbiblical practices like homosexuality and indecency among Christians.

“Many confess Christ but their lifestyles don’t match what they confess,” he said.

Joining Priesthood

Although he is now passionate about ministry, the clergyman’s childhood dream was to be “a great man and businessman.”

Even when he enrolled for a bachelor’s degree in Divinity in the mid-1990s, his goal was to deepen his knowledge of God to be an evangelist.

“In the process God arrested me and I joined priesthood. I wasn’t convinced by anybody. But I believe it’s God who did it because after that I had joy and peace of mind.”

Looking back he, however, says God put a lot of influences around his life that could have informed his decision to join priesthood. First are his pious parents Yokana and JadressKabazeyo. He recalls being repeatedly asked by his father who has for long been Mission Coordinator in West Ankole Diocese, to emulate a certain priest who was his (father’s) role model and peer.

“Can’t you be like Canon Katurebe?” his father repeatedly said.

As early as at 12 years, Ahimbisibwe says his mum often told him he would be a reverend. As a young boy, Ahimbisibwe was also active in a church choir, often taking lessons in church and a member of the Boy’s Brigade.

Then came October 30, 1983 when he got saved while in senior two at Mbarara High School. Besides continued participation in church activities and student fellowships, he also took on leadership roles as vice chairman and later chairman of the school’s Scripture Union and as house prefect. At Kakoba NTC, he was also chairman, Christian Union.

“After salvation, my life changed.”

He also started interacting with mature Christians including priests at St James cathedral Ruharo. Ahimbisibwe is inspired by some men of God who spoke into his life. These include Elisha Kyamugambi, the retired Bishop of Ankole diocese who he says initiated him into ministry.

While in primary five, Bishop YoramBamunoba, the retired Bishop of West Ankole diocese also visited his school in Bushenyi when the young Ahimbisibwe fluently recited John 3:16- 20. “He held my hands and blessed me. Not every pupil could do it.” Then came 1987, a year before he passed on, when Bishop FestoKivengere preached at a convention in Ruharo, in Mbarara town.

“After preaching, he touched my hand and told me: ‘If you keep with God, He will do great things for you’,” Ahimbisibwe remembers.

Perhaps this elevation is the start of the great things the great bishop alluded to.

Tagged: East Africa, Religion, Uganda