People living in the small West African country of Guinea Bissau lead lives of uncertainty and fear.
Ongoing political unrest breeds fear for the future. But an even greater fear comes from the spirits which, they believe, control their lives.
Throughout the country “devil trees” stand as a reminder that the devil and evil spirits are never far away. Some people claim to have heard spirit voices coming from these trees. Often these voices sound like people from the nearby village who have died. Spirit priests offer sacrifices to the spirits living in the devil trees, and parents may dedicate their children to the spirits in hopes that the children will be protected from harm.
Tat is a young man whose grandmother had dedicated him to the devil when he was a child. He wore an amulet, a small goat’s horn, around his neck at all times to protect himself from evil spirits. His grandmother often warned him that sickness or death would surely come if he should ever break the covenant she had made on his behalf with the devil.
Tat, now a young man, learned of the evangelistic meetings being held in his neighborhood. He decided to attend. As he listened to God’s message of love, his heart was touched. And when the young speaker invited those present to give their hearts to God, Tat felt called to respond. He fingered the goat’s horn hanging on his chest as he struggled with the truths he was learning. He wanted to follow Jesus Christ, but he had seen firsthand what Satan could do to those who tried to break away from the spirits. Just days earlier, a friend who also had been dedicated to the devil as an infant, had died mysteriously. And as far as Tat knew, his friend hadn’t broken away from the spirits. The spirits hadn’t protected him after all, Tat thought.
Tat continued to attend the meetings. The speaker explained that the devil rules by fear, but God rules by love. And God’s perfect love casts out fear. Tat cast off his amulet and chose to follow Christ.
Dozens of people in Guinea Bissau, who once had been slaves of Satan, declared their freedom in Christ during those evangelistic meetings. Our mission offerings help break chains of fear and bondage every day. They help nurture and train new believers around the world to share God’s love with others.
Antonio Carlos de Sousa Medeiro has graduated from Brazil Adventist University in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and now pastors 11 congregations in northern Brazil.