Sunday, March 1, 2009

Black magic storian

A ni-Van friend shared the following story about black magic and ministry in Vanuatu. This is a free translation from what I recorded in Bislama.

"I had a chance to experience one man where they killed him with black magic. The time I ran a Bible study, this man (a chief) was at the study but it wasn’t really him, it was a different man. When they kill a man with black magic, they cut out the guts and fill him up with leaves. After, they might sing or use a magic so another man can come inside the man and the dead man can walk around. The one that takes his place must know the dead man well and his mannerisms. (In the original telling it was explained that the dead person can be possessed longer like 3-4 days by someone who can copy their typical actions and ways of speaking, otherwise only a day or so of possession is possible.) The chief that came to the Bible study came Thursday and Friday, not Saturday, then back again Sunday. When he came, he sat up close to the front. I didn’t know he was already dead from black magic but I was preaching from John 17 where Jesus prayed for protection for his disciples. I told a story to the kids about one pastor that was in another island. He went to kill flying foxes (fruit bats) at night with stones. Some men made black magic and told the pastor to follow them to kill flying foxes. The pastor didn’t know (about the plot) so followed them. The man that led him went to where all the men were making black magic. They were going to poison him and cut out his guts. The man was scared about what they were doing. He was too far (away from others) to call out for help. However, he knew God alone was his protector and he thought about Psalm 23 and he meditated on it. He put his full trust in God that He would protect him from the men. He prayed and read the Psalm in the middle of them all. The power of God killed the power of the black magic. This pastor had a chance to resist and go back to the house. When he went back to the house he told his wife what happened and that the men couldn’t do anything to him with black magic. During the telling of this story, the chief was sitting down hearing the story. I said suppose you trust God like David trusted God in Psalm 23 and if you put your total trust in Him than no man can kill you because God’s power beats the power of others. It’s possible that men could kill you, but your life isn’t ended because you have eternal life and you will go to be with God one day. I encouraged everyone with the life of David. King Saul and his 3,000 men couldn’t catch David because God’s power beat Saul and his men’s power. 1 John 4:4—God’s power in you beats the power of the world.

After the service we stood up and everyone came to shake hands with me. One old man said I made the Gospel flashy and said that someone might kill me in this place. It was a challenge to me but I wasn’t afraid and I didn’t shake (in fear) because I knew my family and friends were praying for me and God was protecting me and giving me power. I could stand up strong and not be afraid. This is one encouragement to you that if you stay somewhere alone and someone says something like this to you, you don’t have to be afraid. You don’t show you are afraid. You can be confident because you put your trust in God. The chief sat and ate with me and shook my hand. When the chief went back to the house, he said his tooth was sore so he sent off his kids to find medicine. The man inside the chief (possessing him) wanted to find a way to get out of the chief. The chief's kids (ages 10, 4, 3) came back from looking for matches and saw their dad asleep. The mom was on another island so only the kids were there. They saw their dad’s life was gone and they were crying. They didn’t know he was dead, they just thought his life had come out. A nearby woman heard the crying and the kids told her that their dad’s life had come out. The woman ran to see the chief and saw that he looked like his life had been gone a long time, for several days, and he was dead. The men that had killed him came later and asked me “is the chief dead?” Their eyes were really red. (My friend explained in the original telling that their eyes were red from the strain of possessing the chief during this time). All the men came and carried the chief outside so all the men could stand around him and cry. All the men were surprised the chief was dead and they wondered how. They realized it must be black magic. I led the funeral service. Later at the funeral service his body had one side that was black from the drug from the wood they used to kill him. The people went to bury him and all the people were afraid. They were all scared it might happen to them. They all asked me to go to another village. But I said I’d stay because I won’t run away from the people. I must stay with them all. When I face hard times or hard situations it’s good to pray a lot or ask God to direct you for what decision you must make. Some Christians will even say 'life there is too hard, you come stay with us' but it’s good to think first about what decision God wants me to make in the situation. 'Should I stay or go' and think a lot before deciding what to do. I decided to stay with them. I preached one text on Sunday and led worship and encouraged them all to trust God like David that God will protect them and look out for them. All the men were still making black magic but God will protect. The time they had buried the chief, all the dogs barked at night and the men came round the house we were in. All the men wanted to kill one of us. The next day people said "did you hear the dogs crying out/barking?" We didn’t hear them because we were so sound asleep. We always prayed before we slept. After, we knew God protected us so the men couldn’t kill us or do something to us. They all went to see the kleva (medicine man/witch doctor) and ask him. He said the way against us was strong and they tried hard to kill us but they couldn’t because God protected us. The kleva said he saw a light that shined in the house where we were staying. The 1st time the men couldn’t get through to our house. They went back and tried a 2nd time and a 3rd time. Later the kleva said a light shined at our door and they tried to come inside but they couldn’t. We said God protected us and gave us His power. We were safe in his mighty arms like a chick hiding under the wings of a hen. God protects us well and covers us good in His hand so nothing can spoil our life. In the world something might spoil our life but if we die, we will spend eternity with God. This is our living hope. This is the story of black magic of the men who killed a man. Thank you very much."

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