Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Demon-possession in Africa (2)

There was a day when I had to do with a situation where I was convinced that two people were demon-possessed. In an earlier post I wrote about the father who didn’t want his daughter to get married without going through a whole bunch of rituals (which, I am sure, is related to the occult). This old man had a young nephew who was being trained as an inyanga (witchdoctor). At that stage our church building, which was just adjacent to their homestead had been severely damaged in a storm, to such an extent that we had to break it down completely and the two wives offered their home for church services. But the husband had also invited his nephew to live at their homestead in a small hut. A homestead in our sense consists of a number of small houses and huts all situated in a fenced area. When we started our church services on a Sunday (which usually lasts more than two hours) this young man started beating his drum in his room, the sound echoing through the open spaces. For the full extent of the church service and even after we were finished he would be beating his drum without stopping. I really experienced it as a challenge who would give in first. On another occasion we showed the Jesus Film in that area and during the entire screening of the film he would also beat his drum with resting.
One Sunday morning after the service I walked down to the house where the sound came from. As I looked through the window I saw three people inside – two young men and a young girl. The one man (the learner witchdoctor) seemed to be in a total trance while beating the drum. Even though I looked him in the eyes, it did not seem as if he was aware that I was there. The other man looked up when I looked in and it did seem as if he recognised me. The girl was standing on all fours on the ground and seemed to be in the posture of a dog – even making whining noises like a dog. She also did not realise that I was there. And all the time this beating of the drum just when on and on with ever stopping. Both the girl and the man beating the drum seemed to me (and this is my subjective feeling) to be possessed by some spirit. For me it was an upsetting experience. To speak to them was totally out of the question. The most I could do was to pray for them on my own. The learner witchdoctor left the area a while later and up to now we have never had contact again.
On a few occasions I did speak to him when he wasn’t in a trance and he was quite a friendly person, even open to listen to the gospel, but he was never willing to make a decision to accept Christ and by that time I had enough wisdom to know that it was worthless to force him to do it.

Monday, August 6, 2007 Posted by | Africa, Demons, Mission, Swaziland, Theology | 1 Comment

   

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