Monday, November 15, 2010

The Ziiru-Muto Challenge

Have you heard or read the account of Elijah, the man of God, confronting 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah in a contest of the “… God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel…” verse the pagan gods, (I Kings 18:20—39.) As you may recall from this Biblical account, the prophets of the false gods were unable to call down fire on their sacrifices. They called upon their gods from morning until the evening sacrifices. They beat themselves until they were bloody, but there was no response from their gods. Did their gods not care about their plight? Were they asleep or otherwise busy? Were they unwilling or unable to come to their aid, hear their cries or see their efforts? Elijah called upon the God of creation and fire came from heaven and consumed his sacrifice. This is the classic confrontation between good and evil, right and wrong, light and darkness, God against Satan.

There are still these types of confrontations occurring around the globe when the Gospel of Christ confronts darkness, evil spirits, tribal paganism and unbelief. There was a confrontation between a man of God and a witch doctor on October 23rd in the village of Ziiru-Muto on an island bearing the same name on Lake Victoria, in Uganda. The confrontation did not take place upon a mountain. There were not eight-hundred fifty prophets against a lone man of God. While there was no fire from heaven, there was a confrontation between a young preacher and a false prophet that took place in the midst of a group of villagers.

Pastor Saphen, Kyanja Baptist Church and Pastor John of Gunda Baptist Church arrived in the village of few Christians, days earlier to begin evangelization among the approximately five-hundred people. A few days later, I arrived with other pastors to the excitement of 23 professions of faith and eagerness among villagers for the upcoming Bible study and worship services being held on Sunday. The day prior to this village’s first evangelical worship service, our team went from door-to-door inviting residents to Sunday’s Bible study and worship. Pastor Saphen was approached by the local Witch Doctor who began to declare his authority. He informed Pastor Saphen that he could make a fire, place himself on the fire and not be burned. He boldly proclaimed, before several village witnesses that he possessed great powers and had the ability to perform miracles.

Pastor Saphen challenged the witch doctor to a contest. He told the Witch Doctor to make a fire, sit upon it, and demonstrate his powers and the power of his gods by not being burned. Pastor Saphen stated that he would ask his God, the God of Creation to demonstrate His power and supremacy over the Witch Doctor and his’ gods by allowing the Witch Doctor to be burned from the fire. The crowd of witnesses shouted agreement to the challenge put forth by the Pastor. They wanted to see whose God was more powerful, the god of the Witch Doctor or the God of Creation. The Witch Doctor, under great pressure to perform, refused to accept the Pastor’s challenge. The people then saw that there was no power in the Witch Doctor or his gods. The word of the challenge spread throughout the village and on the following day, many of those who had been witnesses attended worship service.

There are many challenges similar to the one faced by Elijah on Mount Carmel and the one between the young Pastor and the Witch Doctor that takes place throughout the islands of Lake Victoria. Times and places may differ, but the challenge remains the same, good verses evil, light verse darkness. Men of God who confront evil, sin and false prophets throughout Uganda need the same determination demonstrated by Elijah when he faced the prophets of Baal and Asherah. Please pray for our team as we meet darkness head-on by shining the light of Christ to the Basoga and other tribal groups living on the islands of Bavuma.