I first met her when she showed up at the clinic with black eyes and wounds on her face. The story came out slowly, but she said that she and her husband were fighting. He had been drinking. After he knocked her to the ground he repeatedly hit her on the head with a rock and bit her face several times leaving gaping holes. Although she lives only a few feet away from her in-laws, they refused to come and help her because they did not agree with the marriage. We cleaned her wounds and I tried to convince her to go the police. She refused. I told her of the way that Jesus views her and her value, and prayed for her protection. Would it be possible for me to talk with her and her husband privately? She refused.
It was not the first time this had happened, and it would not be the last. As I tried to talk with community leaders and police (fearing for her life), it all came down to a formal accusation by the victim. My hands were tied. She refused help over and over during the next two years. I continued to pray.
A family member died in another city, and after the funeral, she began having chest pain and shortness of breath. Her physical exam was unremarkable and I theorized it was emotionally based. But since there is a significant presence of Tuberculosis in the area, we took her to the hospital for a chest x-ray and a few more tests. All came back negative. We had hours to sit and talk, and I discovered that she had gone to a meeting of a “traveling preacher”. He told her that she was suppose to die with her family member, and since she escaped the first timeline, it was just a matter of time until she also died. Now she had demonic nightmares and felt like she couldn’t breathe. We rebuked the demons and prayed for the love of Jesus to comfort her grief and set her free.
She was pregnant and he was still beating her. I prayed for wisdom as I counseled her and that her heart would be softened, but as the months went on, nothing seemed to change.
Manon and I were called for her birth. As always we prayed for the peace of Christ to cover the event, and for skill and wisdom to care for mother and baby. The first hours of labor were completely normal, we chatted and walked and did some exercises. And then something seemed to shift. She began to be filled with fear and darkness. I double checked all the vitals signs to make sure nothing physically was going on…. and then we began to address the spiritual issue at hand.
“I am a terrible person, no one loves me. I should just die and take my baby with me to the grave. I am a bad mother. Just let me die. I want to die. God hates me.”
For hours, in between every contraction, Manon and I prayed over her and declared the truth of God’s love over her. We rebuked the demons that were tormenting her. Worship music played in the background.
When her baby was finally born, I dried it off and tried to lay the baby on her chest as we do with all babies. “Get that thing away from me! That is not my baby” She was pushing and kicking her newborn away.
Over the next hour we continued to pray over them as we went about the medical things that needed to be addressed with a postpartum mother and new baby. Finally she decided to look at her child, and a bit later hold it. Two hours later we had succeeded with nursing. The next morning I drove them home and the aunt promised she would keep an eye on them.
When I arrived to see them eight hours later, everyone appeared to be doing ok. The mother asked me to name her baby, and I promised to go home and pray over a good name. I asked to take a picture, but the light inside their mud hut was not ideal. So I opened the door a little bit wider and a sheet (which serves as a screen door to help with the bugs and the dust) got stuck on something. As I tried to carefully keep the sheet from tearing I could hear nervous whispering in the background. I had just discovered the thorny branches that had been placed over the door for “protection”. The term “protection’ is a socially acceptable way to explain that the grandmother had sought out the witch doctor and brought charms and various things into the home as per his instructions.
I went to grab my camera from the jeep and another child wanted to walk with me. The mother instructed them to carry the chitangie (the beautiful fabrics that many women wear as a wrap around skirt or to carry their babies) with them because it might get cold. As the child went to the corner and lifted up the chitangie, charms and leaves fell out. I had found the stash of items the witch doctor had sent for the baby. The grandmother was outside heating water over the fire for a ceremonial bath for the baby, and she had planned to use the charms and leaves.
Obviously we needed to talk about things. The mother protested that it was not what she wanted, but the grandmother had forced her to accept the “protection”. So I called the grandmother inside and we talked about how the blood of Jesus is our protection, the love of God takes away all fear, and how as children of God we cannot mix witchcraft and faith in Christ. The grandmother accepted this and apologized. I watched as she threw the charms into the fire and burned them.
I told the mother we had to dedicate the baby back to God. She once again said, I am a bad person I cannot pray about this. And so I shared with her the forgiveness of God takes our sin as far as the east is from the west, and a humble repentant heart is all that is required for us to have intimacy with God. He will hear your prayer.
Maybe you should pray for my baby since you are the missionary. No, as the mother, you allowed witchcraft to enter your home; you will be the one to renounce it and rededicate your baby back to God. And so she prayed. I didn’t understand 100% of the prayer, but I did hear enough to know that she was contrite and choosing faith in Christ.
When a family asks me to name their baby, I pray over what I believe the Spirit of God wants to declare over this child for the rest of their life. As I prayed, I heard God telling me that this baby was a turning point in the ongoing struggle of witchcraft, fear and deception. They would be a catalyst for change and freedom. As I looked for a name my favorite was the one which meant: “the one who brings victory”. The family liked the way it sounded and decided that the meaning was also very important.
It is such a joy to see how after hearing the truth and love of Jesus Christ for many years, this mother has finally rejected the lies of the enemy and is taking steps to walk out her faith. She is experiencing the victory that comes from freedom in Christ. Please pray for this mother will continue to renounce witchcraft, and that she will grow in understanding of the way that Father God thinks about her. Please continue to pray over this family as there are still huge challenges within their marriage – pray that the husband would have a radical encounter with Jesus and that love and healing would grow in their family. But for now I am confident that He who began a good work in this family will be faithful to carry it out to completion.
*** This testimony is purposefully vague and quite late so that the privacy of the family could be protected.