Standing in the Gap — no.6
— praying for children accused of witchcraft.
'"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind," and "your neighbour as yourself."' — Luke 10:27.
The story of the Good Samaritan starts with Jesus’ commandments in this verse, as Jesus answers the questions of: 'What must we do to inherit eternal life?', and 'Who is my neighbour?' Loving God and loving our neighbour are commands to his followers, his people, his church.
After a horrendous series of beatings, being burnt and left naked to public humiliation a woman accused of witchcraft in Papua New Guinea said this: “Like a bent old cooking pot I laid there alone and nobody came to see me, because I was declared eating humans…” (from an interview led by Fr. Philip Gibbs, 2016). Her story recounts that neither the police, nor her family, nor even a doctor would come to help her.
Who is our neighbour and where are the ‘Good Samaritans’ addressing child witchcraft accusations?
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind," and "your neighbour as yourself." — Luke 10:27
- Even when situations look and are horrendous, there is light. Give thanks to God for the "countless acts of heroism, generosity and courage …often by strangers", reported by Dr Miranda Forsyth (who is working with Fr. Philip Gibbs to address witchcraft accusations in Papua New Guinea) as these ‘Good Samaritans’ intervene where others will not help.
- Let us continue to give thanks for the groups of people SCWA and others are impacting across DRC, Togo, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa, who are seeking to address witchcraft accusations, not by condemnation, but by bringing God’s love and justice into play.
Mungongo Ya Mwana is a group in Kinshasa, D.R.Congo, who exist to give children on the streets a voice. Recently they shared an audio recording of children singing, ‘A child is not a witch, a child cannot be a witch.’ In the recording the children call on churches to put an end to child witchcraft accusations.
- Pray that children will increasingly have a voice in their communities, nationally and internationally. Pray that God will allow his church to move from a position of sometimes colluding and encouraging fear in communities and harm to children, to a position where Christ’s church is seen to take the lead in ending accusations of witchcraft to children.
- Please pray that God would heal communities, so that it would not take a stranger to stand up for the abused and rejected in any society, that hate and fear would be replaced by love and acts of kindness. Give thanks that our greatest role model, Jesus, became a stranger, so he could do exactly that.