Standing in the Gap — no.13
— praying for children accused of witchcraft
By faith Moses left Egypt, not fearing the King’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. — Hebrews 11:27
Stirred by his faith and not paralysed by fear, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, with his eyes fixed on him who is invisible. We have a God who is spirit, who is almighty and who has a plan and a purpose.
Witchcraft is considered a secret, often nocturnal activity that fosters pervading fear of the invisible. Because of fear of death, illness or failure — fear of the inexplicable — many children are vulnerable to abuse created by witchcraft accusations. This is confirmed by a survey of more than 700 pastors in Kinshasa, in which seven in ten pastors indicated that they know of cases where sickness, death or some financial difficulty are blamed on being bewitched by a child. *
* The full report of the Kinshasa Survey, the work of Dr Robert Priest and Rev Abel Ngolo, will soon be available on the resource hub of this website.
The idea of conspiracy is what we supply to make sense of what will never be sensible — the fiery fact of death. Extinction of a life: “Impossible!” The soul cries out, “what are they hiding?" — Parry, 2018 *
* Parry, 2018, exploring the response to unexpected death following the 2011 tsunami in northeast Japan.
Things to thank God for…
- We give thanks that we can, by faith, explore issues and realities of suffering, death, illness and failure, without seeking to blame anyone or bring our own retribution to bear.
- We give thanks for opportunities to better understand the relationship between health and witchcraft accusations, and to explore these issues more widely. For example, SCWA was able to participate at the World Views and Health–Related Stigma Conference, held on 25 October.
- We give thanks for all the leaders of organisations, large and small, who attended the SCWA Collaborators Forum in London this week, to launch ‘the Heart of the Matter’ training resource and explore their response to child witch accusations in the countries where they work.
I asked for an opportunity to speak from the front and shared about the work of SCWA and the need to address child witchcraft accusations in our ministries and communities. Some people didn’t want to hear about it and refused to say that it was a problem. One pastor from Burkina Faso later encouraged me by speaking of both the real need to protect children and the need for perseverance, as cultural change takes time. — Director of MECI, 2018
* Director of MECI, at the 4/14 Window Conference in Benin, August 2018
- Pray for open hearts and minds to consider the triggers to when and why witchcraft accusations happen. Pray that more people will become conscious of the fear generated and transferred to those accused of witchcraft. Pray for new ways of thinking to challenge old ways of responding.
- Pray for many more opportunities for local leaders to raise the topic of child witchcraft accusations in their communities, with peers and throughout their spheres of influence. Let us all, like Moses, persevere, because we have seen him who is invisible.
- Pray for the response of those with influence into countries where witchcraft accusations occur. Pray that, as they plan interventions to bring help and growth in communities, they will be better equipped to explore the roots and realities which influence child witch accusations, and which bring harm within the community.