Pastor Umar Mulinde, 38, arrived in Israel on Jan. 5 for emergency medical treatment at Tel Aviv's Sheba Medical Center following the attack that severely burned his face and torso and damaged his right eye. He is expected to remain in the hospital for at least a month.
The attackers shouted "Allah Akbar" (God is great) after pouring acid on Mulinde on Dec. 24 in Kampala. Mulinde converted to Christianity from Islam and is known for proselytizing.
After determining that he needed more advanced treatment for his injuries than the hospital in Kampala could provide, Mulinde contacted Andrea Gottlieb of Merion Station for financial and logistical help.
"I had that moment of 'Oh my gosh, what do I do?' " said Gottlieb, who was vacationing with family when she received an email from Mulinde, whom she'd been corresponding with for more than a year in her role as executive director of JerusalemOnlineU.com.
After a series of emails, she was able to get a promise from Sheba hospital to treat him for free and received help from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office to sort out Mulinde's visa issues.
Mulinde had learned about Israel through JerusalemOnlineU.com, an Internet portal for Jewish distance learning. He then taught courses at his Gospel Life Church International and to neighboring ministers, organized a 5,000-person teach-in about Israel at a local stadium and led a mission to the Jewish state. He's also spent time with Uganda's tiny Jewish community.
"Because of my background and my faith, I hated anything to do with Israel. I hated the Jews," he said in a clip on YouTube.com. After converting to Christianity and taking the online course, he said, he "began to love Israel."