The Witchdoctor

WITCHCRAFT is a real problem in the village. It messes with people’s minds and spreads fear in the hearts of both young and old. I was reminded of this the other day out at Chiyembekezo when some of our church ladies came and told us that a witchdoctor was standing before the chief’s council. Apparently, he was hired in a nearby village to find someone that had been missing for two days. Long story short- he made false claims that the person died and illegally searched people’s homes! Now he was being called out for it. The people were upset that his word hadn’t been accurate but I was a little upset that no one had any qualms about going to the witchdoctor in the first place! In my mind I was thinking… “Hello??! There’s a witchdoctor being employed here and we’re all OK with that?!?!?” The people were simply judging him for not delivering as advertised! 

Wait… it gets better…

As I came closer to the crowd that had gathered in a circle, they invited me in to come sit and hear the matter. In front of me was what looked like a knapsack attached to a big stick. But this wasn’t just any stick… oh no, this one was quite special. According to the witchdoctor, this very stick was the staff of Moses!!! At this point I didn’t know if I was more upset or wanting to burst out laughing! 

The witchdoctor proceeded to defend himself by saying that he hadn’t contacted the spirits and THAT was why he was off his game! Someone on the council rebuked him sharply for even thinking about practicing his craft without contacting the spirits! (And yes, I probably was doing something to the equivalent of a face palm at this point.) It was beyond me why they felt the need to enable his false narrative and follow him down the rabbit hole. Someone then asked what should be done with the witchdoctor’s staff and all his totems? I was so flabbergasted by the whole situation that only one solution seemed right- “Burn it all”, I whispered, mostly talking to myself. No sooner had the words left my mouth than the elder beside me stood up and addressed the crowd announcing that I wanted everything burned! This started a whole series of discussions on how, where and when it was to be burned! Should it be burned right there or should he take it and burn it at his house? Better yet, have it burned before the chief! 

(face palm) 

I wasn’t at this meeting in any official capacity but the council still allowed me to address the people. Have you ever been in such amazement over something that you were at a loss for words? That was me. It took a second to compose myself but this is basically what I said before the village… 

“You’re all upset that this man didn’t perform the job he was hired to do. But who is more foolish, the fool or those who follow him? You go to witchdoctors like this man to help you find money yet this man has nothing. How can he help you? You go to men like this with their charms to find success yet this man is unsuccessful. How can he help you? You often go to such men to better your lives yet this man’s condition is worse than your own. You’re upset with this man but you’re the ones who have empowered him. If you judge him then judge yourselves as well because you’re the ones who keep such practices alive.” 

Most of those that go to the witchdoctor are normal people with real cares and  insecurities. You’ll see a mother that feels helpless to care for her baby. You’ll find a father who’s concerned about the coming harvest and whether he’ll have enough food to provide for his family. Many of these people are professing Christians and are in church every Sunday. How ironic that even in contrasting cultures and people groups, you’ll find the same fundamental desires of man to feel safe, to be loved and to protect their own. What would a man do in order to retain these securities? The answer, of course, is that a man would do anything. After all, aren’t these noble pursuits that we all could rightly follow after? Absolutely! But what compromises would we be willing to make to hold on to the things that are dear to us? I know many of us would instantly reject the mere idea of going to a witchdoctor! We know better. We’re educated. And in no way would we align ourselves with an influence so contrasting with God’s clearly defined will… or would we? 

It’s not always that the lines are so clearly defined between God’s will and ours. How do we justify our reasoning if our choices are primarily guided by the fear of losing what we consider essential to our happiness? If our commitment to Christ is determined by the extent of life’s unalienable rights, then we’ll be the first to compromise our faith in order to retain a certain lifestyle. This line of thought concludes that if it makes me happy it’s good but if it makes me uncomfortable then it’s obviously not God’s will! We will give when it benefits us. We will surrender to God’s will when it aligns with ours. We will venture out to reach all nations when the way is clear and unobstructed by pain and loss. How are we any different from the African who follows the witchdoctor for fear of loss and a desire of gain? You probably don’t have a witchdoctor to trust in and go to but we do have layers of securities that determine our life choices. Ask yourself, Are you really open to God’s leading in your life or are you busy trying to tighten your grip on something beyond your control? This world and our illusion of control will always fall short, “…but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:17

The witchdoctor on this particular day was seen to be the fraud that he really was. He couldn’t deliver, and the bottom line is that whatever else we are trusting in besides God can’t deliver either. The council judged the witchdoctor and he’ll have to pay a goat and seven chickens to various people. It’s always a good day when the witchdoctor takes a hit. It would be an even better day if he’d repent and turn away from his craft and trust the Lord! Anything is possible so let’s pray this man and others like him respond to the Gospel and give their life to Christ! 

Remember to look on the bright side! At the very least, one less Biblical mystery eludes us! C’mon, haven’t you always wondered what happened to Moses’ staff! 

Burn it. 

Written by Damon