In the thin strip of West Africa that is the country of Togo, a Muslim woman was suffering from an illness that neither witchdoctors nor medical doctors could cure: She was convinced she was surrounded by snakes.
In part, Rachida’s* problem was that she was surrounded by snakes, to some degree; several varieties showed up in the farmlands bordering their savannah and forest habitats, and in the traditional dwellings of her village (undisclosed for security reasons) in Togo, it was not unheard of to find a black-necked spitting cobra coiled in a corner.
But the young woman was mortified with fear that snakes were literally encircling her, whether they were visible or not, according to the director of a Christian ministry based in Togo. Though nominally Muslim, Rachida was raised with voodoo belief in a prominent serpent spirit. Among other animistic beliefs in evil spirits, she was certain the serpent spirit was summoning other snakes – visible ones in hiding, and invisible vipers swarming around her.
More than half the people of Togo hold such animist beliefs or devotion to ancestors, including many of the Muslims that make up 19 percent of the country’s population. An estimated 20 percent of Togo’s population is Christian, and some of them also adhere to elements of their animistic upbringing.
The couple began to pray for her…that’s when she jumped and started crawling on the ground like a reptile.
Rachida went to every witchdoctor in the area, the native ministry leader said. Each one subjected her to some ritual, sometimes involving the body parts of dead snakes or other creatures, or animal sacrifice, and each shaman invoked the powers of amulets and potions. Her conviction that snakes were behind every box, bed or building remained, and relaxants and other prescription drugs from medical doctors were equally ineffective.
At the community mill where villagers ground flour for the evening meal, she met the wife of a native missionary and told her about her fears, the ministry director said. The woman brought Rachida to her home, and the missionary told her Jesus Christ was the only one who could help her.
The couple began to pray for her, the ministry leader said.
“That’s when she jumped and started crawling on the ground like a reptile,” he said. “She crawled a long time, then after she stopped, she remained as dead. After she got up, she was delivered.”
Her fear dissolved, Rachida is secretly learning about Christ even as a real danger – opposition to Christianity from her Muslim family members – grows with each passing day.
A largely foreign-financed movement to establish Islam throughout Western Africa is also advancing in Togo. In the northern city of Kara, Muslims have created several radio broadcasts reviling Christianity, and Islam is growing throughout the region.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Christian Aid Mission