Samba Jean loved going into the forest near their mountain home in central Madagascar to collect herbs for his magic. Although his family calls themselves Christians, his father sees no problem mixing Christian beliefs with witchcraft. He uses sticks and bones to determine who has cursed someone, and he uses magic and traditional herbs to break curses, bring good luck, and heal his clients.
When Samba Jean was 14, a friend invited him to attend evangelistic meetings. Samba Jean listened intently as the preacher read from God’s Word. He heard things that were so different from what his father and his priest had taught him. Who is right?he wondered. As he learned more, he became convinced that the Adventist pastor who read from the Bible was teaching the truth. He realized that his father’s powers were from the devil.
Samba Jean spent many restless nights trying to decide what he must do with the new truths he was discovering. What will the devil do to me if I refuse to help my father? he wondered.
Samba Jean’s father tried to force the boy to take part in his witchcraft ceremonies, but Samba Jean refused. The boy wanted to commit his life completely to God in order to be free of the devil’s power. But his parents insisted that he attend their church.
Samba Jean asked the pastor to baptize him but allow him to continue attending his parents’ church to keep the peace. But the pastor explained that baptism means giving up all other religions and accepting only God’s truth.
As Samba Jean continued attending Bible studies, he realized that he must leave his family’s faith and join the Adventist Church. When he told his parents, his father refused to speak to him. Other family members called him a traitor.
Samba Jean took his stand for God and is trying to share his faith with his family. But his father insists that his witchcraft has all the power he needs. To keep the Sabbath holy, Samba Jean stays at the church all day on Sabbath so he won’t be told to work. He tells those who visit his father that he no longer believes in witchcraft, that God is more powerful than his father’s witchcraft. Some of his father’s clients are studying the Bible with him now.
“I pray that soon my parents will give up their false beliefs and surrender to God,” Samba Jean says.
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Samba Jean lives in the hills near Antananarivo, Madagascar.