A couple weeks ago we posted a story about Atchonim and Soba, who were ready to become disciples of Jesus but had some questions about what they would do about their fetishes. From the Bible studies they had already done, they were pretty sure about what God thinks of idolatry, but there was still some confusion about it. It might surprise you to know where that confusion comes from, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
We were supposed to meet with the brothers to discuss these things the Saturday immediately following the last lesson, but on that day there happened to be a major traditional party/ceremony in town which, for them, is like having the Super Bowl in your home city and having free tickets. We had been preparing and praying all week for this meeting, so we showed up at their house anyway just to see if they could meet, but although we found them there, they were just about to head out. Honestly, I was pretty discouraged that day. I kept telling myself that if the Super Bowl were in my town, I would likewise miss just about anything to go (especially if the Seahawks were playing), but that didn’t help much.
We did finally meet with them this past Saturday, and it was obvious from the beginning that God was working. In spite of just about everything happening to prevent us from meeting with them—including the worst night’s sleep ever the night before—God worked it all out so that we got there on time, even if not fully awake yet! Both brothers were home and waiting for us, which was quite unusual (they are usually working their fields or garden, meaning we have to wait for at least 20-30 minutes), and their often drunk and boisterous mother was not home, which is was a good sign. We ended up reading scripture and talking for nearly two and a half hours with absolutely no interruptions, which never happens, especially at that house!
Most of the passages we read were from the Old Testament, which is only partially translated into Lamba, so Tchéou had to read from a French Bible and translate on the fly, which he (apparently) did very well. As we read more and more Scripture they began to get a very clear picture of what God thinks about idolatry, sorcery, witchcraft, and, by extension, fetishes. There still seemed to be some confusion about something, though, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The conversation then turned to people being possessed by spirits, and one of the brothers made a comment about how the evil spirit must have come from God. This may sound strange to you, but it’s actually a common belief among animists that all things, both good and evil, come from God in one way or another. This has major ramifications on how they view sin, salvation, and obviously God himself.
Up to this point I had been quietly listening as Tchéou did most of the reading and dialoging with the brothers. However, I jumped in here to do one of my world-famous “mango and pebble” demonstrations. I visually illustrated how God (the first mango) is not the author of evil, but that satan (the second mango) rebelled against God and has been deceiving and pulling people (the pebbles) away from God ever since. It was a major “lightbulb moment” for them, and it seemed to shed light on everything else they had heard both that day and in the previous 20 Bible studies. By the end of it all, they were fully convinced from God’s Word that they needed to abandon their fetishes and give themselves entirely to Jesus Christ! Next Saturday we will be meeting with them again to discuss their baptisms and how they will go about getting rid of the fetishes.
We learned a lot that day. It showed us, among other things, that the Bible passages we have chosen for our Discovering God series do not speak specifically enough about the spiritual issues that most people are dealing with here. It also showed us that we need to include a lesson of some sort that deals with the fall of satan, probably just after the creation story, so that people know from early on that God is not the author of evil.
Thanks so much to all of you who prayed for this meeting and for the brothers. Please keep them in your prayers, though, because they have only now reached the end of the beginning in their walk with Christ. We count it a privilege to be part of God setting people free from spiritual bondage and giving them new life in Jesus!