What do you make of Halloween?
On one level, it’s just an excuse for a good time, and I love the chance to engage with the community and be out and about. But on another level, I’m uncomfortable with the sinister underbelly and know that as a follower of Jesus, I need to be awake to those darker realities.
So I thought I’d share with you two of my friends’ stories, who were witches themselves. I think their opinions and experiences are more important and authoritative than mine, and what happened in their lives is frankly mind-blowing. Well worth the listen:
From Witch to Prophet
Into the Light!
Witchcraft manifests itself in different cultures in different ways. The following two stories are from our recent summer outreach teams in August in Burundi:
In Makamba province in a town called Kivoga, Nadine was a contemporary ‘Gadarene demoniac’, just like in Mark chapter 5. Her father had sought treatment at a mental hospital because of her deteriorating condition, as well spending all he could on traditional medicine and witchdoctors. Eventually the family gave up, and she lived on the rubbish dump, roaming the streets at night, half-dressed. She was feared and mocked by the whole community for her unsettling behaviour.
When our team of evangelists showed up, they overcame their initial fear and started praying for her. The demons manifested, but the team called on reinforcements, took her to the local church, and over the next three hours of intensive prayer, battled through for her total deliverance. Suddenly, after the last demon was cast out, Nadine’s screams ceased. She looked at herself and began weeping. She had no recollection of what had happened, but now asked for some clothes.
When her father arrived and saw her ‘in her right mind’ (like Mark 5:15), he was so overwhelmed he fell to the ground. Our guys shared with him how Jesus had set her free, and he and seven other people present gave their lives to the Lord!
Baltazar was a notorious witch doctor from Bugenyuzi. He was feared by all around him, and loved the reputation he had. Nobody challenged him as they didn’t want him to cast a spell on them (I know, many of you struggle to believe this stuff. Suffice to say, out there you don’t need to convince them the power is real).
One day, a neighbour approached and asked him to stop his witchcraft. A few days later, that previously healthy man was found dead at home. So that was the context when our team showed up. They heard the stories and decided to camp out on Baltazar’s hill and pray every night.
When he heard what they were doing, he went out to confront them. But as he approached them, he was overwhelmed by a greater power and fell to his knees. He asked for prayers and surrendered to Christ. He invited the team back to his home, where his wife likewise repented when she heard what had happened to him. A crowd came to watch as they burned all his charms, and he and his wife repented of all they had done to their neighbours and in the community. Everyone was amazed at this total transformation.
As the picture at the top makes clear, we can’t afford to treat this stuff as funny mumbo jumbo, be it in Africa or the Western world. There is a spiritual realm and a spiritual battle going on. That’s why we need to wake up and pray seriously. Piper highlights the critical issue as follows for us in the West: “Probably the number one reason why prayer malfunctions in the hands of believers is that we try to turn a wartime walkie-talkie into a domestic intercom. Until you know that life is war, you cannot know what prayer is for… But what have millions of Christians done? We have stopped believing that we are in a war. No urgency, no watching, no vigilance. No strategic planning. Just easy peace and prosperity. And what did we do with the walkie-talkie? We tried to rig it up as an intercom in our houses – not to call in firepower for conflict with a mortal enemy, but to ask for more comforts in the den.”
(Do subscribe to these weekly Inspired podcasts here.)