The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Shilla, the Redeemed Church Girl

Sometime early this year, Shilla Kituyi, better known as Shilla, lied to her parents that she was going to attend an overnight prayer at Lubaga Miracle Centre cathedral.

Instead, she headed to a top city bar where she regularly met her friends to indulge in a booze binge, smoke cigarettes and hook up men. She had lived that kind of lifestyle throughout her teenage years. On one particular night, however, an unfortunate incident happened.

That incident has since changed the 21-year-old's lifestyle.

"We were all drinking and happy until this guy showed up with a gun and started firing," Shilla narrates. "There was shouting and screaming everywhere. People were jumping through windows."

Shilla says the man, whom she describes as having been a very fierce-looking Sudanese, followed her and her friends as they fled in their car. Though some people were seriously wounded, together with her friends, they survived.

"I went back home and started praying. A voice answered me saying I was spared so I could turn back to Christ," says the now born again Christian who has dedicated her life to inspiring young people.

Blessings:

Less than a year since she gave her life to Christ, Shilla says she has received countless blessings. First, the young beauty says God has answered her long-time prayer of getting a job and relieved her parents of some financial burden. She is now the head receptionist at the plush Metropole hotel.

And as a budding gospel singer, Shilla's luck could not strike any better than landing her a spot into Cooper and G-Way, one of the leading gospel music bands famed for building talent like Exodus and L-Bizzo. But Shilla is primarily famous for hosting Channel 44's flagship show, Bounce.

The youth-oriented gospel show, which airs every Saturday, has steadily grown popular among viewers. Just like that shoot-out, she believes it is a blessing that she landed her current gig on television.

"I had no prior experience in media or TV presenting but my family and friends encouraged me to go for the auditions. I beat hundreds of other girls," boasts the rather shy TV host. Her stunning beauty and talent has, nevertheless, endeared her to viewers.

Strong faith:

Shilla tells her story with honesty, drawing comparisons of her former crazy lifestyle with the current descent bubbly and intelligent TV star. She says she now feels at peace and more confident. She believes God has chosen her to change lives and has now taken advantage of her TV job to inspire young people.

She also, along with her band, ministers in churches through their healing pop gospel music.

"I come from a staunch conservative Christian family. My mum is so prayerful and I am glad she never gave up on me despite the number of times I let her down," says the youngster, quoting several Bible verses that echo themes of redemption and forgiveness.

Future plans:

For now, Shilla is keen on furthering her TV career, which she says pays her bills. She also hopes to complete her diploma in Software Engineering at Aptech University, where she is currently in her final year. Shilla also hopes to expand her ministry work by taking inspirational talks to schools and youth clubs across the country.

Love:

Back in the day, Shilla admits she had a number of flings and never really cared about emotional attachments. But times have since changed. She says she is currently seeing someone though she wouldn't offer any details.

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