Inside Story: The Ghost Dancer, part 1

I am Daniel-at least that is the name I have taken. I live in the country of Benin, the birthplace of voodoo.

My grandmother was a voodoo priestess; so was my mother. People would come and whisper their problem or their wish into a seashell, which the priestess throws on the ground. How it lands tells the priestess what the problem is. The priestess tells the person what they must do and bring to receive what they wish. The person pays with money, alcohol, or an animal.

My father worshipped the spirits of dead people and called on them to bring peace to people who were troubled.

My father initiated me into the secrets of voodoo. He invited me to be a ghost dancer, a person who dances during certain voodoo ceremonies. He told me that if I danced well, people would give me money, and he warned me that if others became jealous of me, they would try to kill me. I agreed to join the ghost dancers.

The dancing ghosts were hired to perform for a ceremony. We all danced, but I danced very well and got a lot of money. I didn’t think anyone was jealous, but when I returned home I did not feel well.

My legs swelled and became painful. My father suspected that someone had put a curse on me. He said it was urgent that I get treatment immediately, or I could die. I was afraid. I went to an old voodoo priest, and a few days I felt better. But I decided this devil dancing was too dangerous and I needed to get out of it-fast.

I had met some Christians, but I didn’t think their God was any different from voodoo gods. But after my brush with death, I wasn’t willing to make fun of anyone’s God. So when I heard an evangelist speaking one day, I stopped to listen.

I felt that the speaker spoke right to me. I continued to attend the meetings, and when the speaker invited people to follow Jesus Christ, I decided I must obey. But I knew my parents would be angry, so I didn’t tell them.

I studied the Bible with the pastor who had spoken at the meetings. When I was ready, I went to a distant city to be baptized. I realized that sooner or later, I’d have to tell my parents. But I didn’t look forward to it.

(continued next week)

Daniel lives in southern Benin West Africa.


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