By: Chris Eggerman, Overland Park, KS, Bethany Lutheran Church
Going on several trips to Tanzania has allowed me to see God change many lives in a variety of ways, through the work of the Holy Spirit. This year’s trip included a one of the most powerful examples I have seen. During our second day of evangelism in the village of Gininiga, my mother and I were in a group with Pastor George, Pastor Aaron, two evangelists named Bariki and Bernard, and two members of the village congregation. As we were visiting homes in the countryside near the village, we saw a large house that had been built recently but appeared to be empty. Near that house was a smaller home; Pastor Aaron told us it looked like it might be a witch doctor’s house.
We talked to the woman who lives there. She said a man in her family had built the large house next door, but he died while finishing it, so she thought it was cursed and was afraid to live in it. She also said she was a witch doctor, but acted friendly toward us and agreed to be baptized. She was wearing three charm necklaces that she believed brought her good luck. We told her she needed to remove them and give them to us before she could be baptized because, as Christians, we need to put our faith in God rather than earthly objects or the teachings of witchcraft. She immediately turned and walked into her house, so I thought she was refusing to give the necklaces to us. It turns out that she had only gone inside to cut them off, because she came right back out and handed them to us.
We know that charms like this have no power, but when someone gives up their charms, we say a prayer asking God to take away their power because it helps the person who had worn them to let go of their faith in the charms. As we were praying, the woman turned and sneezed a few times, slowly stepping away. Once she got about 10 feet from us, she started yelling and took off running through the field of millet next to her house. That’s when we realized she had a demon inside her that was trying to prevent her from being baptized.
Pastor Aaron stayed at the house with my mother and me while the rest of our group went to find her. The millet was about seven feet tall, so we could not see where she went, but we heard her continuing to yell. At least 10 minutes later, the yelling stopped and they brought her back to the house. The pastors and evangelists began praying over her and commanding the demon to come out, in the name of Jesus. At times during the next several minutes, the woman yelled, waved her arms around, dropped down to her knees, and sang a song that we later learned was a witch doctor song. By this time, about 15 neighbors had come to watch what was happening after they heard the commotion. My mother and I were sort of in shock about what we were seeing, and eventually realized that instead of just watching, we should join in praying for the woman to be relieved from the torment of this evil spirit.
After several minutes of this chaos, she finally calmed down and allowed us to baptize her, a strong indication that the demon had left her! As we prayed for her, I put my hand on her shoulder. I noticed she was very warm, which made sense considering how much her body had been in motion and the intensity of the situation. Someone brought her a cup of water, and she drank it very quickly.
As we left her to walk to the next home, I was thankful that pastors and evangelists in the SELVD are well trained to share the Gospel with witch doctors and to cast out demons. During these outreach efforts over the years, mission teams I have been a part of have met several witch doctors and a few people who are demon possessed, but this was the first person that I’m aware of that was both a witch doctor AND demon possessed. Thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit, she is now living in peace and knows Jesus as her Savior!