In Kenya, a family was avoided because their hands and feet were eaten
by mites. The villagers believed the family was cursed. Cursed, because
the old woman's father killed his wife.
In another village, neighbors believed a fellow villager had no hope
for the future. He had not been obedient and respectful to his aged father.
The father had been dead a year. The son had seen his inheritance shrink to
a scrap. The villagers knew the son would pay for his sin the rest of his
A few miles away, a family had come home from a journey to find thorns
scattered before the door of their house and separate kitchen hut. They did
not enter either house for two weeks. A neighbor had cursed the family
because of a disagreement over land rights. The family believed they would
die if they stepped past the thorns.
These are experiences of the Kipsigis people of southwest Kenya. The
Kipsigis attribute all these situations to the work of the evil spirits of
dead. They are opportunities for an encounter between God and evil. God
can help the human race overcome such fears.
Africans have a strong belief in the unseen. Trees are the home of the
hornbill, a swarm of bees and lichen. When lightning strikes the tree is
the home of "the evil animal." No one touches it.
A Child Killed by Bees
A child was killed by bees. Her father had always been a respected
elder. The community searched for the reason for the extraordinary death.
The villagers remembered that when the old man was still in his teens he
had taken a wife and quickly cast her off without any land. He was punished
by the bees.
Christian missions in third-world countries must face situations like
these with the bold message that Jesus can help. National evangelists must
be brave before such evil.
Jesus Can Help
A year ago three Kipsigis evangelists showed a community Jesus can help.
They were visiting a man in a neighboring village. The man told them,
"there is a family in this village who has not entered their hut for the
past two weeks."
"Why?" The evangelists set their enameled tea cups on the table.
"Two weeks ago the family came home from a journey.
They found thorns scattered in front of the door. Even the cooking hut had
thorns in front of it."
The evangelists gasped. "Who would curse them?"
"They are not sure."
"We must free this man's hut from the spirits. God has the power to
chase these spirits away."
The group walked up the hill to the cursed hut. Neighbors watched from
behind shrubs and trees. The owner of the house was weeding some corn with
a hand hoe.
"We have come to free you to enter your hut, if you will give us
permission," the evangelists announced after greetings.
"I do not refuse. I am a poor man. I cannot afford to build a new hut.
But I am tired of staying with other people. I have possessions in that
The evangelists walked to the door. They sang praises to God praising
his power. Then they asked the Almighty to show his power. They prayed for
the house to be made safe for the family. After prayer, one of the
evangelists squatted and brushed away the thorns. The evangelist then
opened the door and entered. Once inside he invited the others to follow.
The man, his wife and mother all walked inside their hut for the first time
in two weeks. They sang songs of joy.
"Let's go to the cooking hut." The evangelists and family repeated the
songs and prayers. After they entered the cooking hut the grandmother
pointed her lips to the main hut. "Go back over to the hut and I'll brew
some tea in celebration. I have not cooked here for some time."
It was a happy day for the family. For the evangelists, it was another
day to see God's power defeat the ancestors. The neighbors were impressed
with the bravery of the evangelists.
That was not all. The following Sunday the husband, wife and mother
were all baptized into Christ. The victory was complete.
Such victories are important to the growth of the church in the Third
World. Jesus must be trusted as superior to all the forces in the
tribesmen's lives. When they are bound, Jesus must be able to deliver them.
Records in the Book of Acts
The book of Acts records one after another of such power encounters.
When Christians dispersed from Jerusalem, Philip traveled to Samaria.
There he encountered Simon the sorcerer. This powerful man watched and
listened to the evangelist as he demonstrated Christ's power. Simon
realized his power could not be compared to that of the evangelists. The
sorcerer gave up his ways. He became a follower of the Son of the Almighty.
Soon after Paul was sent out by the Antioch brethren he encountered a
diviner, Elymas or Bar-Jesus. Bar-Jesus was a counselor to the Roman
proconsul, Sergius Paulus. Bar-Jesus attempted to prevent the proconsul
from believing in Jesus. Paul struck him blind.
When a young girl diviner pestered Paul and Silas, Paul cast the spirit
of fortune telling out of her.
The stories of these encounters, and more, spread abroad. The preachers
of the word were seen as powerful people. First century Palestinians
believed in powers of the unseen realm. They were troubled by the evil
spirits. Christ, through his evangelists, demonstrated that He was the
ultimate loving power.
This is not the work of evangelists of little faith. Third-world
evangelists will not enter into such encounters if they have any doubt about
their faith. They believe they encounter real spirits. These spirits have
the power to destroy them and their families. Evangelists who stand before
these spirits know the power of God. They are convinced that Jehovah is the
Evangelists who enter into such encounters in jest or without strong
faith would be putting themselves in jeopardy of being devastated like the
seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19:13-16). They see themselves as encountering
real powers, powers that can strike down the weak or the opportunists.
These encounters do not just convince the non-believers of the power of
Christ. The encounters establish a heritage for the body of believers.
This heritage is a strength in times of temptation and weakness.
Lessons that Can Be Learned
When weak brethren encounter sickness, family conflicts, famine,
traditional rites or other problems they are tempted to appease tribal
powers. Most who fall do so during times of appeasement. They have not
seen or been convinced that Jesus is the most powerful. They are not
persuaded that Jesus can help them with their problems.
Power encounters create a heritage that Christians look to for hope.
The stories of those who have overcome should illustrate many of the lessons
given before the saints.
This heritage of victorious encounters gives the church the image of
concern and love for those who are hurting.
An Arokiyet Family
A family in Arokiyet village of Kipsigis had a severe attack from
jiggers. Dozens of the little insects had burrowed into the hands and feet
of the mother and two teenage children. Their relatives and neighbors would
not help them. Their calamity was attributed to the sin of a great grand-
father. He died many years ago. The old man, it was believed, had killed
his wife. The punishment of that sin had now fallen on his descendants.
The Christians at Arokiyet wanted to show this family the love and
power of Christ. They donated their time and money. They tore down the
family's insect infested old house and constructed a new one. They arranged
for the family to be taken to the hospital. These deeds showed the village
the Christians were not afraid of the ancestors. They proclaimed Christ's
The mother and children are at home now. Many from the community know
the church did what needed to be done. They saw the church loving with
power. Many are becoming followers of Christ.
A Tarakwa Family
Love, powerful love, binds a congregation together. At Tarakwa the
husband of one of the Christian women died. Kipsigis tradition isolates a
grieving family. The family could not expect anyone to come to comfort them
nor help them through the difficult time immediately after the death.
Villagers are afraid the spirits of the dead are close to the house and can
rain down evil on anyone near. So they stay away. The church at Tarakwa
decided to help. The visited the family. Their help included singing songs
of praise to God. They comforted the family with prayers for God's help.
The Christians dug the grave, lowered the body in it and covered it. When
the last handful of dirt was tossed on the grave, rain fell. Rain is a
blessing. The community saw this fearless love. They saw God's blessing.
The congregation grew. These new Christians knew that in their time of need
they could count on their brothers and sisters for help.
Reports from Allen R. Tippett
Allen R. Tippett reported encounters of loving power as a major factor
in the growth of Christianity in the Solomon Islands.
"... there were dangers, losses, failures, jealousies, hostile magic
and other disruptive factors, which had to be prevented or countered. These
resulted from anger, jealousy or offense, either of the spirits themselves
or of some vindictive persons who stimulated them. This manna of hostility
had to be appeased or turned aside or driven away or overcome by a more
powerful manna. It was a world of continual encounter, and a gospel of
encounter between Christ and Satan was quite meaningful to these people."
(Tippett 1967:6) Such encounters were meaningful to those coming to
Christ in the first century (cf. Acts 8:13; 13:12). Jesus sent His disciples
out with words and demonstrations (Luke 10:19).
These loving encounters of power are not at their best when staged.
They should be the natural response to immediate needs. The impact is
greatest when the need is the greatest. The church must be ready to show
its love with power.
There are some guidelines that will prepare the church to take up the
The encounters recorded in the scriptures should be recounted often.
The Old Testament stories of confrontation with Baal and the Philistines
should become the familiar folklore of the new congregation. Jesus'
victories over sickness and the grave should be repeated regularly. And
the works of the Apostles in Acts should be known by all. The Holy Spirit
of God must be seen as a driving force that strikes down Satan and evil in
many real circumstances.
The contemporary church's heritage of encounter should be proclaimed in
the pulpits and corn patches. The victories over the ancestors need to be
common knowledge. Preachers need to make sure the congregations believe that
God is working among them, today. God can solve their problems. He has
already shown His power to their fellow tribesmen.
When the encounters are recounted the congregations should be told that
the brave evangelists are still fertile and their crops plentiful. They have
not been cursed by the confrontation with evil.
Lastly, the church needs to be aware where their love can be
demonstrated with power. Where does evil spring up? Every culture has its
own fountains of evil. They are usually common circumstances such as birth,
death, sickness and rites of passage. There are also the extremes of
defilement, curse and oath. The calamities of drought, flood, disease and
disaster need loving power. Individual cases of family disputes and poverty
are occasions for power - the real, loving power of Christ.
Christ is the answer. He is the answer to peoples' basic and pressing
problems. Third-world people have a need to defeat evil. Christ must be
seen as victor over evil.