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Responding to Jesus in the Domain of Voodoo

This past January, a 29-year-old woman named Magalie came to the clinic in Gonaives, Haiti, where I was serving, with several complaints. After examining her and giving her medications, I explained the gospel to her and asked if she would put her trust in Jesus. As she listened to the good news about sin, grace, and eternal life, tears ran down her face. She said, “I want Jesus very much, but what about the witch doctor?”

The pervasiveness of Haitian Voodoo
I have been involved with medical missions in Central and South America since 1993. Two years ago I was told about MTW's medical mission to Haiti by another physician who loved the method and the priority of sharing the gospel that was promoted by the leader of the group, Dr. Tom Edwards. I first joined the group for the January 2017 mission, and was amazed at the needs of the Haitian people. The level of poverty in Haiti is unlike anything I'd seen in Central or South America, and the spiritual darkness is deeper as well.

I have heard it said that Haitians are 45 percent Protestant, 45 percent Catholic, and 95 percent Voodoo. The pervasive effect of Satanism and witchcraft saps the strength even from Christians, and the difficulty in reaching the Haitian people with the gospel frustrated me.

In preparation for my initial trip, Dr. Edwards taught me how to use the Evangecube—a picture cube used to share the gospel cross-culturally—and I fell in love with the technique. I shared with over 100 patients that week, but very few said yes to Jesus. A fear of the demonic held most back. Some were even willing to say so: "I want to have Jesus, but the witchdoctor ... ."

I had no tool for this.

Fighting the battle with prayer
Pastor Esaie Etienne, MTW missionary in Haiti, gave me the key. "All you can do is pray," he told me. And I did pray. I prayed and asked God, "Are we are to believe that Satan owns Haiti? That your people are powerless there? That the name of Jesus cannot help those in the clutches of witch doctors? That we are simply too spiritually weak to stand up to this enemy?”

A few months in advance of this year’s mission I began to try out my Evangecube with hypothetical Haitian patients. Only now, I began to question the power of their witch doctors, their charms, and yes, even Satan himself!

January 2018 came, we began our work, and before long I encountered Magalie, the young woman who wanted Jesus but feared the witch doctor. Little by little, I learned more of her story.

A number of years ago Magalie had been very sick and became unconscious. Her parents took her to the witch doctor and she recovered. After that, she and her parents had to buy charms from the witch doctor and store them up in their tiny house to keep demons away. They were warned repeatedly that if they stopped paying the money for the charms the demons would attack them and they would be even sicker than before.

Now Magalie was in debt to the witch doctor. That very day she was planning to take the bus to Cap-Haïtien for a Satan worship festival to deliver a payment. She knew of friends who had tried to stop paying the witch doctor and had become very sick or had severe pain. When the witch doctor found out that those friends had become Christians, he brought severe curses and sickness on them. She couldn’t take the chance.

Our conversation went back and forth for 30 minutes.

Set free in Christ
“Do you really want to live the rest of your life in fear like this?” I asked. “Jesus calls you to Himself with love, not fear. He put Himself on the cross to save you. He died for you! What is the witch doctor doing but extorting your money from you? Yes, Satan is powerful. But he can only hurt your body, he can never touch your soul. … Next to God he is nothing. God created and upholds the entire universe. Compared to God, Satan is a little bug. God will squash him in the end.”

All at once Magalie said, “Yes, I want to receive Jesus. I will renounce Satan.”

I said that I would lead her in a prayer and that she should repeat after me, but only if she agreed completely with what I had said. In addition to the usual prayer I added the phrase, “I renounce Satan and all his ways.”

Pastor Esaïe met with Magalie that same day and encouraged her, and then the elders of Trinity Presbyterian Church Gonaives went to her house and helped her to burn all the Voodoo charms. Several godly women have begun to meet with her to teach and encourage her. She came to church Sunday morning and evening, and had a beautiful smile.

God’s power won this victory for Magalie. She has suffered none of the ill effects that the witch doctor threatened. She knows that Jesus changed her life and she is so thankful. Freedom!

Dr. Charles Taylor is a cardiologist in the Indianapolis area. He assists the MTW medical team led by Dr. Tom Edwards.

Serve on a medical mission with MTW! Learn more at mtw.org/medical.

Dr. Charles Taylor, Gonaives Haiti Church planting Mercy Jun 28, 2018
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Pray for the ministry of the Etiennes in Gonaives, Haiti. Pray for the church, schools, children's homes, and for the raising up of national leaders.

Give thanks for the work God is doing in South Asia in the wake of COVID lockdown relief. Ask God to grow the new believers who came to faith in Christ as a result.

Please pray for Haitians, particularly those in southern Haiti, whose communities were devastated by the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

Pray for God's work in Haiti as people are struggling under political turmoil and COVID-19.

Pray for a new initiative in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to hand deliver soap and provide education on disease prevention to 600 families in poverty-stricken communities. 

Pray for the kids in Aquiles Serdan neighborhood of Reynosa, Mexico, and the outreach of Isaiah 55 ministry there.

Pray that MTW medical trips would be used of God to provide much needed care and to draw men and women to faith in Christ. 

Pray for our rebuilding efforts in Haiti and the Bahamas that is a response to Hurricane Matthew. That God will muliply the funds and strengthen the church.

Pray for the young sexually-abused girls and adult survivors of childhood trauma in San Jose, Costa Rica, to find healing. Pray for the clinic workers who are proving much-needed counseling.

Pray that people will come to faith in Christ through our medical clinics, where we seek to do what Jesus did and care for those in need.

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