SOUTHEAST ASIA (BP) — In a dimly lit wooden home, a paralyzed man shares the story of his paralysis, his time with a witchdoctor, and finally, his vision of heaven.
IMB missionary Nancy Potter* translates his testimony for a visiting volunteer team from Oklahoma. As Seo* shares his story, he uses a white rope, strung like a hammock, to keep himself upright.
The volunteers came on a short-term mission trip to partner with Nancy and her husband William.* The Potters and their national partners travel throughout a remote Southeast Asian region to share the Gospel and disciple believers.
Many inhabitants of the region believe evil spirits roam like unseen crusaders. Villagers say the spirits are looking for open windows in houses in order to ravage their health and peace of mind. Witchdoctors demand blood money — the sacrifice of animals — for their services. The Potters say they act like feudal lords who tax the vassals in their territory.
Seo and his friends were traveling through the jungle and decided to stop for lunch. Seo scaled a tree to collect orchids to sell in the local market. The branch snapped and he fell, landing on his back and breaking it. Seo couldn’t catch his breath at first, and then, when his lungs recovered, he started screaming for help.
His brother and friends finally came to his aid. They lit part of his body on fire, following a belief, held among their people group, that fire purges one of evil spirits.
He lay on the ground, with the scent of his burning flesh, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. It took two hours to transport him home. When he arrived in his village, his neighbors lit incense and sacrificed the family’s pig and five other pigs from the village. They poured the blood from the animals over Seo’s body. This macabre act was believed to wash his sins away.
In this Southeast Asia nation, when animal sacrifices are made, the meat cannot be eaten. The carcasses are discarded, and the remaining blood is spread on an archway in the village — a fixture of every village in the area — and those making sacrifices must walk under the archway.
Seo went to a local hospital and was then referred to a hospital in the capital city, some distance away. His wife was pregnant and due to go into labor that week, so he chose not to go.
Villagers told him about a powerful witchdoctor who would heal him if he took part in his ceremonies.
Seo sold his cow, worth $1,000, for the witchdoctor’s services, which consisted of the witchdoctor spitting on his back and placing random objects on his bed sores.
One of the witchdoctor’s rules was that he had to lie on his side until his wound festered. Seo begged to leave the witchdoctor’s home.
He returned home, feeling helpless. He heard about Christians in the area who were teaching the Bible.
“Please, tell the Christians to come and share Christ,” he told his neighbors.
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Source: Baptist Press