Every Sunday we have a church service in the village of Kabrousse, where our co-workers are working really hard to learn the local language and culture, in hopes to one day see a mature church established.
The church is a melting pot of languages and cultures. We have French, Creole, English, German, Portuguese, Wolof, Jola and even some tribal languages present in our group of about 20.
The village of Kabrousse is very animistic (the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings). Charms, spirit worship and mysticism have a tight grip on the lives and hearts of the people living there. Sacrifices must be made to please certain spirits, ceremonies must take place in order to please the god of the rain, the giver of life, or the one who controls the thunder. Even little babies are tied down with charms and bracelets that are said to protect their life, and ward off evil spirits. If the land is thirsty and the crops need rain, the women will go to a certain river and cry all night so that the crocodiles will hear their plea, and send rain.
This is reality for these people.
This presents a huge challenge for missionaries living and working amongst people like this because the day that they can freely speak the language and begin to talk and teach about God, we don’t want them just to combine their beliefs with what the Bible teaches (syncretism). Nor can we just come in and say, “get rid of your ceremonial sacrifices and “magic bracelets”, God is against those things.” It must be the Holy Spirit that convicts these people to turn from these things and trust God with their health, their safety, their families, their crops, their very lives.
It’s a sign that someone has truly grasped the Gospel when they are willing to go against their own culture, contrary to their own worldview, to obey and follow the Word of God.
Today was a very exciting day at church. August, a young man in the church said that he wanted to burn his charms as a sign to others that he believed in Jesus, not in the powers that people say these charms hold.
So after our church service we all gathered around to watch these necklaces (the charms) burn to ashes. It was a big moment for August and a huge testimony to those watching.
As the flames died down we all sang a chorus of “Digne, oh, Digne es-tu, Seigneur” (Worthy are you Lord).
It was neat to see August take a stand for what he believes in, even though he will probably be criticized, looked down on and people will tell him all the reasons why he should be afraid, since according to them, he burned the only thing that was protecting him. PRAY that he will stay strong in his decision and that God will continue to give him the courage and strength to go against the flow.