“It is your fault he died”
Although Islamic oppression and dictatorial paranoia often cause a great deal of suffering for Christians in countries scattered from the West to the East of the African continent, ethnic antagonism also causes torment. Christians often face the wrath of the community when they turn their backs on worship of ancestors and things like trees and mountains to serve the creator God. This was the case with Samuel from southern Chad.
Samuel entered the dark hut to see his cousin lying on a mat, drenched in sweat and curled up in excruciating pain. Occasionally Alphonse mustered what little strength was left in his body to lift himself onto one elbow and vomit into a bucket his children had placed next to him.
“You need to take your father to a hospital,” Samuel told Alphonse’s children. “This looks like appendicitis.”
The children refused. They were determined to stick to superstitious medicinal concoctions instead, afraid they might offend the spirits by seeking modern medical care. When there was no improvement a few days later they decided to take Alphonse to the hospital but it was too late. Alphonse died shortly after surgery.
A family member phoned from the hospital to tell Samuel the tragic news and then declared, “It is your fault he has died! You told us to take him to hospital, and that is where he died!”
Samuel understood where his relative was coming from – in the past he had also done everything to appease the spirits. But Samuel became a Christian in 1978 and today his entire household is Christian. In Samuel’s village religious persecution doesn’t come from the state or terrorist groups but from friends, neighbors and even family. While an uneasy tolerance normally allowed Samuel’s family to live in peace, Alphonse’s death could be a match that set off a powder keg of violence.
Samuel knew the community would side with the family of Alphonse so he gathered all his family members and sought refuge at the home of the village head. While Samuel’s family was safe inside those walls, their property was sat unguarded. Alphonse’s children burned it all down.
“I lost everything,” Samuel remembers. “We had a barn full of food, farm produce, farm equipment and other personal belongings. Everything was lost in the fire. All we had left were the clothes on our bodies. Initially, I filed a lawsuit against them. But then I had second thoughts. I concluded that it was not worth it. Even though I continue to receive threats from them, I have decided to forgive everything. I have forgiven them completely.”
When Open Doors heard about the incident, we visited Samuel and his family to encourage them and pray with them. We also helped them afford a temporary place to stay while they rebuilt their home. The project has since been completed and Samuel’s family have moved into their new home.
“I have hope because I know that nothing is impossible for God. Even if men forsake me, God will never forsake me,” Samuel said. “He will restore me unto His glory.”
Samuel’s story is common throughout the African continent. In addition Islamic oppression and dictatorial paranoia there are many villages where Christians worst antagonists live next door. Many Christians face the wrath of the community when they turn their backs on the worship of ancestors or nature.
- Today please pray the Lord will keep Samuel and his family strong in their faith despite threats and hardships.
- Pray that the entire family would continue on this path of restoration, not only physically and materially but also spiritually.
- Pray for Christians throughout Africa who face persecution after they refuse to adhere to local traditional beliefs. Pray that the Lord will help these Christians will have the grace to continue living out clear testimonies for Christ.
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