My wife and I had been married for five months when we headed out to our first foreign mission field. We had been praying for the opportunity to come and when it eventually did, we did not waste time.
When we got to the mission field, everything was new: the country, the people, culture, food and even our marriage. You can’t imagine it. It was like walking on cloud nine – whatever you can make of that!
The Sheik/Shehe Tried To Place A Curse On Me!
First, we lived in a big city for about a month, then our ‘movement bug’ bit and we knew it was time to move again. We had an unreached people’s group in mind. So, the lures of the city could not hold us down, not in our home country, not in this beautiful foreign country!
Fast forward, life had begun on the mission field and we had learned some of the local languages. Disciples were being made and the community of the other major faith was already agitated because this simple, lovely, ever-smiling, young couple are actually doing the most unacceptable, the most unexpected – converting young Ishmaelites to Christ and at an unprecedented rate! The community elders were in consternation.
Early one morning the Holy Spirit woke me up saying, “Go out of your house immediately and see what’s standing right in front of you.”
I never dilly-dally with such instructions. Quickly, I went right outside around 4:00 am. A hundred meters ahead of me, directly by our window was an old man – a local Sheik/Witchdoctor.
As I ran towards him, he was transfixed. He could not move. It was like God glued him to the spot.
“What are you doing here at this hour, old man?” I asked. He uttered some unclear words and then started to walk away. I told him, “Old man, you are wasting your time.” And that was the end of it.
The Witch Ran Away!
Several years passed and the mission of God continued. We were now in a different country, different people group – an animistic people group in a deep, deep jungle of a place. It was a very special place – there was no tap-borne water, electricity or markets. Yes, it was an African village without a market. All trade was by barter!
As usual, we set up camp and started learning a new language. We made several friends as well as converts and were heading towards the first water baptism. It was a lovely place.
One of our “best friends” in the village was a witch-doctor woman. She literally controlled the village spiritually. Everyone feared her in the day but would go to her under the shadows of darkness. Within the village, she was rich, though still amazingly poor and ragged. She had over a hundred goats, countless chickens and lived in a horribly wretched grass-roofed house with her two grandchildren.
She lived about 500 meters from us and most of the villagers could not get to her house without passing through ours.
We had set a goal to love her to Christ. We started by befriending her. We’ll sit with her and share long stories. She would always say, “I cannot understand how clean, educated people like you would come to a miserable village like ours to live. This place is good for nothing. There’s nothing to gain in this place!” Our response was always, “God loves you. God loves your people. God sent us here to show that He loves you people and haven’t forgotten you!”’
The Battle Began
We did a survey, we realized that most of the ailments of the local people were things like headache, toothache, stomachache, common cold, wounds, and ulcers, etc. But, they would go to the witch-doctor for treatment and be made to pay with their precious little possessions – goats and chickens.
My wife had received some Community Health Training before we headed to the mission field. On a visit to the big city one time, we decided to arm up. We bought a good quantity of common medications: fansidar, metrinidazol, amoxicyline, paracetamol, iodine, etc.
When we returned, we spread the word, “Should anyone be sick, stop by Mama & Baba Davida’s house they might just be able to help you.” It’s like giving milk to a stray cat – it will always keep coming. Under that makeshift mango tree clinic, my wife treated wounds, cared for several, heard many stories, made friends, learned the language and led many women to the Lord. We did not realize we were stepping on the cobra’s tail. The witch-doctor was rabid with anger.
Early one morning, while I was having my Quiet Time, the Holy Spirit again told me, “Come out of your house and see what’s standing in front of you.” When I came out, it was just barely bright enough to see. There was the witch-doctor woman, about 25 meters away, facing our bedroom window, completely naked. As I walked towards her, she fled into the bush. I shouted, “Mbuya (grandma or old woman) I have seen you. Okay?” Then, I returned home – you couldn’t chase a full naked old woman too closely, could you?
Later the same day, my wife and I dressed up and went to her house. Pretending not to understand what she was, we asked, “Mbuya, what drama were you doing this morning?” She did not pretend. She burst out, “You people have destroyed my business. No one comes to me again. You pray for the people, you give them medication – I can’t accept that. You people must leave this village or I leave!”
Gently, I said, “Mbuya, we don’t wish that you leave. But, if anyone must leave, it has to be you because God sent us here to set the people free!” We continued in serious warfare prayers.
One Death Too Many!
With the prayers and the encounters, the witch-doctor’s power and influence waned. One day a member of the Chief’s family was sick – and suddenly died. The Chief called an urgent meeting of the whole community. The witch-doctor was not there but he asked to fetch her.
The Chief spoke at length, addressed the community in unusually strong terms, alleged and listed many things that hadn’t been going well in the community, acknowledged the prayers and help of the missionaries and was just short of directly accusing the witch-doctor of the death. Everyone went back home with their heads drooping!
The next morning, the whole village woke up to a shock. The witch-doctor had packed and fled the village before the dawn of day, an amazing feat considering all the chickens, goats, house, children. Nothing was left behind and she was never to be seen or heard of again until we finished our service and left that community.
5 Missionary Lessons
- In Missions, as in other areas of life, spiritual warfare is a daily reality. Prepare for war lest you become mincemeat for the enemy.
- Love and mercy can be weapons of spiritual warfare.
- Life is a sacrifice and more so is missions. Everyone involved in missions must be ready to sacrifice!
- Do not fear spiritual confrontations rather prepare for them. To the degree to which you trouble the devil, you may expect reactions but the blood of the Lamb speaks for us (Rev. 12:11).
- Love will always win!