The Witchdoctor of Seguku
August 24, 2001
Greetings from East Africa!
Today Saul the witchdoctor became born again and here is the full story.
I pray it truly touches your hearts and greatly encourages you.
The morning was quiet and the warm African sun beat down on us as we meandered through the village, waving to the children and greeting the people as we passed by their homes. Not far from where we live I looked up at a grassy slope and saw an older man with a younger one standing together on a weather beaten porch. "You will go some day," the Lord told me, "and tell that older man how much I love him." When I shared this with Barry our Ugandan companion told us with a concerned look, "That older man is Saul, the witchdoctor, and he is standing with his son, Hillary, an on fire, born again believer who serves in the worship ministry of a large church here in Seguku."
I wondered when God would bring us back to the witchdoctor's house as I glanced back at the two men before they disappeared from view.
When we returned home we began to pray for the door to open so that we could bring to Saul the message that God loved him. A few days later Hillary came to visit us. "I have read your book, A Trip To Freedom," he told me with a broad smile, "and I will ask my father if I can read it to him. In my country with its long history of war and pain what you have written will greatly help my people and I believe it will touch my father's heart." We listened with gratitude as we realized that already our prayers were being answered for an open door into Saul's life.
"If my father is willing," Hillary said with a hopeful, yet pleading look, "would you come to speak to him?"
"We would be happy to come," we assured him and then we described our walk through the village and seeing him with his father on the porch. Hillary's face brightened with gratitude. "We will come whenever your father wants us to come," we told him. Then he opened up his heart to us. "I have prayed for my father for five years. I have asked God to send someone who could reach out to him who he would receive and now God is answering my prayers. My father will receive from you because I can see that you will come to him with God's love." We sat close together in our little room, held hands and prayed for Saul and then Hillary went happily on his way.
As soon as we were alone Barry and I prayed for a miraculous breakthrough in Saul's life and the salvation of his soul. I also asked the Lord for clear instructions about what He wanted me to tell this troubled man when we met and He brought to mind Romans 2:4. "It will be a profoundly personal revelation of My love for him that will bring this witchdoctor to Me," the Lord spoke to me. A prophetic message about God's tender love for Saul began to come to mind and the words came so quickly that I could hardly write them down fast enough. I then put this tender message in a safe place in anticipation of the day when I would give it to Saul.
The events that I am now about to describe to you are among the most powerful examples I have ever witnessed of the truth in Psalm 68:2 NLT that "like smoke blown by the wind and like wax in the fire, the wicked perish in the Presence of God". Never have I felt such gross evil as when we walked through the door into Saul's life and rarely have I been so keenly aware of being protected from all demonic evil by the Blood of the Lamb, the Name of Jesus and the promise in God's Word that we who are born again "have authority over all the power of the evil one" (Luke 10:19).
As we prepared for the day when Saul would send for us I was also strengthened by these powerful promises: "The Lord will deliver us from every evil attack" (II Timothy 4:18), "All the powers of hell will not conquer us" (Matthew 16:18) and "no weapon formed against us will prosper" (Isaiah 54:17), including any demonic assaults that could be hurled against us in retaliation for bringing the Gospel to Saul.
On Tuesday, the day after we first spoke with Hillary, he returned to our home. "My father wants you to come," he announced, beaming with an almost uncontainable joy. We sat together and made plans to go to Saul's home on Friday morning. Although he agreed to meet with us at that time he left for Kampala shortly before we arrived. The powers of darkness that this witchdoctor had given his life over to for so many years were obviously trying to obstruct him from meeting with us.
We wasted no time giving Satan credit for hindering our meeting with Saul. I immediately began to rejoice in the promise that "what the enemy means for evil God will work for good" (Genesis 50:20).
The blessing of the Lord on this delay was rapidly apparent. In the absence of Saul we were able to bond with several of his six children. At first they were uncertain about talking to us and remained at a safe distance in the yard or peering curiously yet suspiciously out of the windows.
Soon his older daughter walked towards me and two of his sons slowly emerged from the darkened house. Shortly after they all began to talk to us their voices were interrupted by Hillary. "Would you like to see the rest of the property?" he asked us as he motioned towards a large yard that extended up the hill behind his father's house. "Yes, of course," we answered quickly but I was unprepared for what I was about to encounter. We followed closely behind Hillary and soon to our right was a dome like structure with a cement slab that was covered with black, recently burned debris. "That's my father's shrine," Hillary explained in a hushed tone.
"That's where he meets with the demons. They come in the smoke of the fire and take over his mind. That is how he receives his evil power." I gulped and almost gasped at the sinister presence of evil that I felt as we paused and looked at this altar to Satan. We resumed walking in silence. Just up ahead a young woman with a dazed look in her eyes was brushing leaves across the path with a crudely bound cluster of branches. "That's my aunt," Hillary explained as we approached her. "She recently went insane." My heart ached in my chest as I looked into her tortured eyes. The legion of demons that had overtaken her were obviously agitated by us pausing near her so I walked quickly by her with a faint smile and she resumed the mindless shuffling of leaves from one place to another.
At the crest of the hill we passed by tall shrubs that at first shielded us from seeing several slabs of cement in a grove of trees up ahead. "This is where my real father is buried," Hillary told us as he pointed to a prominent gravestone. "He died when I was very young and Saul, my uncle, raised me so I have called him father. And this is where my grandfather, my great grandfather and my aunt who was like a mother to me are buried." During our walks through the village I had learned about the African custom of honoring the dead by burying them in the village of their father or grandfather. Now we stood together quietly among these simple gravesites and I felt so honored that Hillary would share this sacred burial place with us.
"It is time to go," he finally said and we made our way back down the hill to the front yard where the children eagerly gathered around us to say goodbye. Saul's daughter held on to me as if pleading with me not to leave. As I stood with her in my arms beneath the shade of a tree I shuddered at the horrendous evil these children had witnessed and the ritual abuse that they most likely had been subjected to, especially this striking young girl who was clinging so tightly to me. Gently I pulled away from her as I whispered in her ear, "Nkwagala, Yesu Akwagala," which is Lugandan for "I love you and Jesus loves you." She smiled with delight at these words in her own language and gave me one last, clinging hug before we walked down the path towards the village.
When we returned to our home, each of us were deep in thought. With sober hearts we asked God to show us the next step we were to take in our efforts to make contact with Saul. After a time of earnest prayer we all agreed to meet together again on Monday morning and go to Saul's home without telling him we were coming. I was most grateful that it is a much revered African custom to go to a home unannounced if you go as a friend.
When we arrived at Saul's house on Monday he hid inside and sent word through his son that he was sleeping. We were quick to send a message back to him that we would wait in the front yard until he was done sleeping and he was ready to meet with us. This delay once again gave us invaluable time with the children and they were clearly excited that we had come again. Their openness to us made it possible for me to speak boldly with them about Jesus and they were wide-eyed as I told them of His great love for them.
"My father is ready to meet with you," we heard Hillary say after about ten minutes. I sensed that Saul was no longer in the dark house that was shrouded in the ominous, black shadows of an evil presence and I looked up towards the place where Hillary was pointing. His father was standing next to his shrine to Satan. Another man lay on the grass nearby, watching us closely as we advanced up the hill towards him. Saul's body visibly shook as we walked towards him and his hands jerked and trembled in his pockets. "Witchdoctors know that even most born agains are too afraid to come near their house or shrine," a Ugandan believer had told me shortly before our first meeting with Saul, "Many people have suffered terribly and have even died because of witchdoctors so people are afraid, even many born agains, of what might happen to them if they come against a witchdoctor. That's why Saul was shaking. He could see that you were not afraid of his evil powers."
We crested the hill and I stopped directly in front of Saul, looking firmly into his eyes as a demon glared at me with a menacing anger in a desperate attempt to intimidate me. After a brief moment of silence it left and Saul's countenance softened. "I have come to give you a message from the Lord God," I said to him with a warm, steady smile. "He wants you to know how much He loves you."
Tears welled up in his eyes and I suggested that we sit on the grass and talk. "Wait," he said with a wave of his hand towards Hillary. "My son will get us something to sit on." With a knowing look on his face Hillary disappeared and moments later he returned with animal skins from goats that had been sacrificed to demons. The Spirit of the Lord immediately revealed to me that these skins that now lay at our feet represented Saul's last effort to see if his evil power was greater than the power he saw in us.
With a stunned look he watched us carefully as we sat down on the skins and nothing happened to us. I refused to give these skins another thought. Instead I smiled at Saul, looked into his eyes, reached over and held his hand and began to share the story of my life. He listened attentively and struggled to hold back tears when I told him, "My father did not love me my mother did not love me." "So sorry.so sorry," he said to me with a sincere tenderness.
"The first person to love me was Jesus when I was twenty-nine years old," I continued as tears rolled down his face. "He is the one who began to take all the pain and torment out of my heart and fill the terrible emptiness in my soul with His kind, caring love." Then I told the story of our walk through the village and how God showed me that some day I was to come to him with a message of His love. At that moment I gently laid down Saul's hand, removed the card from my pocket and opened it. "I wrote the message down for you," I explained and Saul glanced over at his son, shaking his head in amazement. "This is what it says," and then I proceeded to read to him these words that were printed on a card.
"Saul, it is I, the Lord God, who has sent My messengers to you to express My heart of love for you. I have seen the painful torment of your spirit and the frightening troubles in your soul and I say to you that I, the Lord God, have a love for you that is deeper than the deepest waters of Lake Victoria, taller than the tallest mountain and higher than the highest sky that stretches far into the heavens above Africa. Ever since you were a young boy I have longed to give you My peace. It is a peace that you have searched for all these long years but it is a peace you have never been able to find.
I long to calm the frightening troubles in your soul and to remove the torment in your spirit with My presence and My tender caring for you. I want you to know, this day, that I love you more than anyone has ever been able to love you. I have seen your troubles, Saul, and I long to help you just like a loving Father would help his very dear son. I have come to you to ask you will you let Me love you? Will you let me help you? Will you let Me give you My peace?"
When I finished I looked up and Saul was overcome with emotion at what he had just heard. With only a brief pause I proceeded to tell him about King Saul and David. His face lit up at hearing his name in the Bible. "When David worshipped with the harp," I explained, "then the evil spirit that was tormenting him left. He was deeply refreshed by the Presence of God and filled with a supernatural peace. God wants to do the same for you, Saul," I assured him, holding his hand once again. "When you are ready for us to come, send for us and we will bring the harp. God's Presence will fill this place and the demons of hell will run away in terror. You will experience His great love for you and the Lord God will fill your soul with His peace." "I want you to come," he said, without hesitating. "Soon I will send for you."
I stood up and hugged Saul goodbye. "Thank you for giving us a chance to know you," I told him as I stood in front of him and looked intently into his eyes. "Thank you for trusting us so quickly." We made our way down the hill and said goodbye to the children. I turned and looked over my shoulder and Saul stood there, not moving, a stunned look on his face as I smiled and waved at him one last time.
When I was confident that we were well past his father's house, I clasped Hillary's hand in mine and together we spontaneously began to leap with joy. We all lifted our voices in thanks to God for the miraculous work He had just done in this witchdoctor's heart. "Originally my father insisted that we bring an interpreter with us other than me," Hillary now explained, "so that he could understand all you said to him and he wouldn't think it was just me saying to him what I wanted him to hear. But it is best that the person you asked could not come. My father understood every word you said to him. This is a miracle," he exclaimed excitedly as he lifted his arms to the sky in gratitude to the Lord. "God made it possible for him to fully understand you and my father changed from what he was like when we first arrived because he could see that you came with the Presence of God."
As I inwardly reflected on what Hillary had just said I could only pray with utter awe, "Thank you, My God, that Your Presence went with us and was so powerful that the demons were driven away before our very eyes, just like your Word says, 'like smoke blown by the wind and wax melting in the fire.' My God, I can't thank You enough!"
Hillary left to go home but soon came back to tell us, "My father is smiling and he is very happy since you left. He is already telling me that he is ready to give up his witchcraft." Barry and I beamed with delight at this wonderful news. Then Hillary proceeded to tell me a surprising story.
"The man who was lying on the grass nest to my father the whole time we were there is the headmaster of a large school. He had come to see my father shortly before we arrived. He was going to meet with in his shrine and have the demon come into Saul so that he could get advice from the demon." Barry and I listened in rapt silence as Hillary continued. "But while he lay on the grass he heard everything you said to my father and now instead of wanting to talk to the demon he wants to know more about Jesus and God's love for him." We all began to cheer and clap with joy at this unexpected turn of events and we sent word back with Hillary to this headmaster that we would also gladly meet with him.
The next evening Hillary brought this letter to us from his father. It is the most moving letter I have ever read and although I have read it many times, each time I read it I weep.
This is my humble reply to the message from the Lord God,
Dear Almighty God,
I would like to thank you so much for sending me your messengers to express your heart of love to me. I have noted the deepness, length, height and measure of love you have for me ever since I was a young boy and the time you have spent longing to give me peace, that I have been looking for these lonely years.
Indeed I want you if possible to calm my frightening troubles in my soul and also remove the torment from my spirit with your presence and tender caring. I would like you to give a new birth to my painful, tormented spirit.
It's nice to know that you love me and also care. I wish you could be with me forever each second of my life so that I may be able to let you know how I feel and also show you some of the responsibilities that you have put before me. I have always waited for your time. I want you to love me. I want you to help me. I want you to give me peace. All the doors to me are open for you to come in, Lord God.
Your lost son,
At the very moment when I finished speaking this out loud the demons that were losing their evil power over Saul fiercely raged against us. At the sound of the last word of this heartrending message to God Barry winced with a sharp pain in his knee and was struck with a massive headache. Our computer froze and became inoperable. We were now cut off from everyone we had been communicating with by e-mail and all our contact information was locked up inside the computer. The next evening while I sat alone in our home a demonic swarm of mosquitoes suddenly surrounded me. Up to this point I had not experienced any mosquito bites due to heavy doses of garlic that repel them.
Yet, as I sat writing on a tablet the gripping story of Saul these mosquitoes aggressively bit me anywhere my skin was exposed. I instantly felt an evil presence behind this attack and declared out loud, "By the Blood of the Lamb and the Name of Jesus be gone!" Within seconds of that prayer they left and then I quickly asked for God's protection over the red welts on my body so that no intended poison from the bites would infect me with malaria. Gratefully this attack ended as abruptly as it had begun.
The days passed. We persisted in prayer for Saul and waited for him to send word that he was ready for us to come with the harp.
Despite this silence I had a steady peace that God was at work in his heart. Meanwhile the Lord encouraged us through an unexpected visit to our home by Joel and Steffanie Santongo. Saul was so much on our hearts that we shared his story with these dear friends and then read his letter to them. As soon as I finished the words, "Your lost son, Saul", Joel fell to his knees, lifted his arms high in worship to the Lord and began to thank Him in a loud voice. While we watched him amazed he eventually sat down with tears rolling down his cheeks and told us why this letter so deeply touched him.
"In 1987," he explained, "I was the government official over this village and Saul was my very close friend. We visited often in his house but when I became the pastor over the UCOM prisons our friendship fell apart. One day as a government official I attended a witchcraft celebration in his home and four of his clients got saved. He then told me, 'You are no longer welcome in my home and we are no longer friends.' Consequently from 1988 to this very day Mama and I have prayed constantly for God to send someone who could tell Saul about Jesus, someone who he would receive from. This day," Joel exclaimed with a radiant countenance, "I realize He has answered our prayers.
He has sent you to my friend. I knew it would take something powerful and dramatic to reach him and the prophecy you gave him with the message of God's love for him and the Presence of God that you brought to him had that kind of power!"
We all began to clap our hands and give thanks to the Lord together in celebration of the miracle that was unfolding in Saul's life.
The days passed and whenever we were home I often looked up, hoping to see Hillary at our door but he did not come. A week and a half went by and unknown to us Saul had sent a message to us the day after we were with him to tell us that he was ready for us. Many times Hillary had come to our home to tell us his father was waiting but always we were gone. Despite this unintended delay I could clearly see the Hand of God in it. "Ever since the time you came to my father," Hillary now shared, "my father has been reading over and over the message from God that you brought to him. He also has been reading your book and in it are so many things that will help him understand God and what he must do if he truly wants Him in his life."
He paused and then a pleased grin spread across his face. "My father also is losing clients for his witchcraft now because when he asks the demons to come they don't come or they come only after a long time." As soon as we heard this report about the disappearing clients we all recalled that on our way home from our first meeting with Saul God had revealed to Barry that when he went back into his shrine the evil power would be gone. That is exactly what happened. We all laughed and rejoiced that the demons were afraid to come back because they had been driven away by the Presence of God.
The day finally came when Saul sent for us. As we walked into his yard he greeted us warmly and introduced us to Dan, whom he wanted to have with him in case he needed an interpreter to understand us. Dan shook our hands and also greeted us with a friendly smile. "I am so honored and glad to be here," Dan was quick to share with me with tears in his eyes. "I am the one who Saul brought the written message to that you gave him from the Lord God and I am the one who wrote down for him his letter to God. I have never been so deeply touched by God as when I read that message from God to Saul. I haven't been the same since I read it."
"That's because that message was for you as well, Dan," I explained to him. "God brought you here today not just to help Saul but He is going to do a miracle in your life today as well."
Both Dan and Saul nodded their heads in agreement and the peace of the Lord fell upon us all as we walked expectantly into Saul's home. God's Presence was with us so powerfully that I could actually feel the evil spirits that lived in the home flee in terror as we crossed over the threshold. We all sat down and we soon learned that Dan was Saul's very good friend but he was also a backslidden Free Methodist minister. He knew enough about the Lord and the Bible and had Saul's trust so implicitly that he not only was the perfect one to interpret the message of repentance and salvation that I preached to Saul but he also was convicted and brought to salvation himself as he interpreted.
The moment came when all that was left to be said to Saul was, "Are you ready to repent of all the evil of the past and renounce all witchcraft forever and only love and serve the Lord God all the days of your life?" Saul said yes but then his face was full of struggle. Through the interpreter he explained his inner turmoil and then I understood why God allowed the delay between our first meeting and this second one. "For hundreds of years the evil powers of witchcraft have been passed on from one generation to another in my family and those powers were passed on to me. How do I turn my back on all that family heritage and end it?" he asked with an agonized look in his eyes.
Then I was able to tell him of a man we had met just a week ago who had been a witchdoctor. He had come to the Lord with such a powerful conversion that now he was a pastor of a small home church and people were being born again daily in his home. "And Saul," I explained, looking very intently into his shocked eyes, "this man's family had a family heritage of witchdoctors for four hundred years and he renounced it all to become born again when he heard the exact same message of the love of God that we have brought to you." This testimony was the breaking point in his decision to go all the way with Jesus and do whatever it takes to become born again.
What followed I will never forget. I began to play the harp and sing a new song of worship to the Lord. His glory filled the room and hovered over us like a cloud. Saul and Dan each fell to their knees to repent and both were born again, filled with the Holy Spirit and lifted their voices with us to worship the Holy One of Israel. Both men dedicated themselves to completely living for the Lord and serving Him all the days of their lives. They expressed an earnest desire to help each other read the Bible, get into a good church and encourage each other in growing in the Lord.
There were many tears and the miraculous transformation in their hearts and spirits radiated from their faces. Moments later I asked Saul's teenage son, Richard, if he also wanted to be born again and he gladly said the prayer of salvation. His young face lit up with happiness as he looked over at his father who was obviously so proud of him for making that decision.
Before going to Saul's home this second time, God had revealed to us that Saul needed a Damascus road conversion. He needed to be confronted by the Spirit of the Lord so radically about the direction he was going in his life and come to such a humbled place of repentance that his name could also be changed from Saul to Paul. When that drastic change occurred then all the effort this witchdoctor had put into doing evil he would then put into going the opposite direction by doing much good for the Kingdom of God. With these thoughts in mind we spent a great deal of time encouraging Saul with the story of Paul the Apostle after he became born again. He hugged to his chest the Luganda Bible we gave him and rocked back and forth with joy as we explained to him the powerful parallel between his life and that of the Saul in the Book of Acts who had done so much that was terribly wrong yet he later was used so mightily by God.
After two hours of ministry and instruction we prepared to leave but suddenly I stopped and turned towards Saul. "The Lord just showed me there is one more thing that needs to be taken care of before we say goodbye." I knelt down next to where he sat on the floor, holding tightly to his new Bible. "God has forgiven you because you have repented of all the evil of your past but you are sitting here in pain because you can't forgive yourself. You have many regrets that are already tormenting you." Saul hung his head low and said, "Yes, this is so true."
For the next few moments the Spirit of the Lord moved upon this broken man and helped him to receive His forgiveness. When he opened his eyes the pain was gone and only tears of gratitude to the Lord were on his face.
Moments later Saul followed us as we walked out of his yard towards the path that leads back into the village. He embraced us over and over and the last thing he said to me was, "I want so much now to serve God."
"You will, Saul," I assured him. "You will."
Dear ones who previously received the story of Saul the witchdoctor becoming born again. What follows are the events that took place in his life during the last two weeks. I believe you will be deeply inspired and touched by the wondrous things God has done in this man's life in such a short time.
The Witchdoctor of Seguku
"I'm Paul! I'm saved! I'm free!"
An hour after we left Saul's house Barry decided to go back to talk to him. "He's very scared," Barry explained to me with alarm when he returned a short time later. "He's afraid the demons are going to kill him for becoming born again."
Immediately I sat down at our computer and emailed the story of Saul's salvation to as many people as possible along with an urgent plea to pray for him. The moment these messages were sent a fierce storm erupted over the village. Thunder rumbled, lightning crackled across the blackened clouds and the sky groaned with strange, eerie sounds that I had never heard before. The demons that once controlled Saul were trying to frighten him and we took authority over this demonic attack. Later we discovered that Hillary also discerned the evil intent of this storm and was praying with us. Soon the wind and threatening rumbles subsided and a gentle, welcome rain began to fall.
The following morning we walked to Saul's home and as soon as he saw us he was quick to tell us, "I'm Paul now. No more Saul."
Then he assured us that despite the storm and the attack of fear he slept peacefully. We thanked the Lord all the way home for helping and comforting him and then departed for two days of ministry in the bush. When we arrived back at the village on Sunday evening there was a festive mood among many of the believers and everywhere we went people were quick to tell us an amazing story.
During the Sunday morning service at Seguku Worship Center the pastor shared the testimony of Paul's salvation. When the letter he wrote to God was read out loud the congregation burst into shouts of celebration and as soon as the service ended about a hundred of them went to his home. From a distance they could see tall flames shooting high into the sky and they were stunned as they approached the front of Paul's house. The fire was coming from his backyard and Paul was walking up and down the street with arms lifted high above his head and proclaiming unashamedly "I'm Paul! I'm saved! I'm free!"
When the believers realized what he was shouting they cheered and then Paul guided them to the back of his house to view an even more astounding sight. He had gathered everything he had ever used for witchcraft, put it in the center of his shrine and set it all on fire.
Hillary wasn't there and neither was his staunch supporter and friend, Dan. Except for his newly born again son, Richard, Paul stood alone in his resolve to destroy everything on his property that had anything to do with witchcraft. People from the village were mocking and cursing him and twenty-five clients who had come that morning to offer him much money to be their witchdoctor were yelling shrilly at him, "You have gone mad to do this! You have lost your mind!"
His family was screaming hysterically at him, "The demons are going to kill you for doing this! And because of what you have done they are going to hurt us too!"
"No, the demons will not kill me and they will not harm our family," he unflinchingly responded to these threats. "God's presence is here and His presence is in me. And if I die that will be alright because I will go to live with Jesus."
The believers joined the angry, chaotic crowd around the hot fire but their response was in stark contrast to Paul's accusers. The born agains worshipped, gave praise to God and rejoiced with shouts of victory. A powerful witchdoctor with clients among the wealthy and among people in high offices in the government now was born again and his shrine was disintegrating before their eyes into a pile of burning rubble.
When we heard this account of Paul's bold stand for Jesus we earnestly thanked the Lord for everyone who had been praying for him. The strength this man had in the face of such overwhelming opposition after being saved only three days was undoubtedly an answer to the faithful prayers of many of God's people.
Early Monday morning Hillary came jubilantly to our home, picked me up and twirled me around as he shouted to the Lord, "My God, my God, thank you. My father has burned his shrine."
At first he took my wind away with his exuberant joy and then we all excitedly hugged and lifted up a burst of thanksgiving to the Lord. Then Hillary departed for his father's house and soon we made our way to his home as well.
Burning the shrine sent waves of shock throughout the village and caused word of Paul's radical conversion to spread like wildfire. As we walked down the familiar dirt paths of Seguku the anger, mockery and fear that the villagers had hurled at Paul now came against us. Even many Christians were visibly afraid of us. They believed that Saul had angered the demons and their panic was understandable in a nation where people die after a witchdoctor curses them and others go mad after becoming born again.
"The converts who lose their mind," a Ugandan later explained to us, "are the ones who get saved but they do not get rid of all their witchcraft and the Bible makes it clear we cannot serve two masters. We cannot profess to walk with God and also practice witchcraft. You can't keep one foot in the darkness and one in the light. If you do you will go insane and my people have seen that happen over and over. This terrifies them because they do not understand why that happens to some believers."
After the disconcerting reactions of the villagers I was relieved to arrive at Paul's home. "Come and see," he excitedly told us as he pointed to the hill above his house.
We followed him up the slope and stood hand in hand with him as we stared at the massive scene of destruction before us. All that remained of his shrine were mounds of ashes, scorched pieces of metal and broken pottery scattered on the ground and blood soaked walls of mud that had been blackened by the once searing fire. The courage it took for Paul to take this drastic step so soon after becoming born again left me quiet and in awe of the miraculous work of God in his heart. Already his life was beginning to reflect the promise in Job 11:18 NLT, "You will have courage because you will have hope."
The following day we arrived at Paul's home at the agreed upon time accompanied by Frank, a pastor from the church. When we approached his front porch we heard weeping and angry screams coming from inside the house and when we knocked no one came to the front door. A pall of concern came over us and uncertain of what we should do we walked up the hill to view the remains of the shrine.
"This is the most huge shrine I have ever seen," Frank said, shaking his head in amazement. "There has been much, much evil here." After a long pause he continued to speak. "I am a Ugandan and I have never seen anything like this. This is a man who was a general, a most senior officer in Satan's army. Truly what is happening in Paul's life is supernatural. It is so, so powerful."
His voice faded to a whisper as his eyes slowly surveyed the charred ruins and then in a reflective silence we made our way back down to the front yard.
A half-hour went by and we breathed a sigh of relief when we looked up and there was Paul walking towards us, smiling broadly with hands outstretched eager to greet us. "I was tired of all the problems in the house," he explained to us, "so I stayed away until I was sure you would be here. No matter how much they come against me, it is done. I am Paul and I am born again!"
Then he told us how his family was suffering since he had accepted Jesus. "When I burned down my shrine I also destroyed the way I make money. Not only did I burn everything that has anything to do with witchcraft but inside the pots was all the money I had earned as a witchdoctor."
We were speechless as we sat on a wooden bench next to Paul and listened intently to his compelling testimony.
"My family," he continued, "has been without food for three days. But I am at peace. I did what God told me to do and I do not regret burning all that money. I know He will take care of us and I have told myself during these days of hunger in my family that soon they will see how good God is and His goodness will cause them to want to be born again."
Somberly I pondered what Paul had just revealed to us and I felt personally humbled to be in the presence of a man who was willing to pay such a dear price to be born again.
From that moment Pastor Frank and Paul developed a close, endearing relationship. Neighbors and old friends who were born again began to arrive to support Paul and people from the church brought food. Paul shared with us his desire to work with his hands to provide for his family by opening up a metal working shop and Pastor Frank began discipling him in the Word of God.
Although at first I was uneasy about the angry glares from the villagers the Lord was quick to show me that the unsettling impact of Paul's conversion was a glorious opportunity to share Jesus.
From that point when people looked fearful I often stopped and talked to them. Repeatedly they asked us the same troubling question, "Aren't you afraid of the demons? Aren't you afraid of what they may do to you?" and I was able to tell them, "No, we are not afraid because of the presence of God that is in us and the Jesus who is in us is far more powerful than all the demons and all of their evil powers."
Three days after Paul destroyed the shrine many of us from the church arrived to help clear the debris while his wife, Mavis, watched us all curiously. Hours later when I walked into her home for a drink she said to me with an urgency in her voice, "Ruth, what must I do to be born again?"
I then had the joy of preaching the Gospel to her and her teenage son, Saul. They listened intently to all that I said and then eagerly asked Jesus to come into their hearts. The presence of God transformed the troubled look on Mavis' face to a happy smile and when I returned to the front yard several Ugandans told me with surprised looks, "Mavis was a big problem for her husband when he became born again. Her salvation will be a major help for this family."
We blessed the Lord together for this important breakthrough and then resumed the work of removing the ashen remains of the shrine.
After a long and fruitful day of cleaning up Paul's property he walked into his first church service that evening. Before we met Paul, Dan read to him my book, A Trip To Freedom, and the chapter that had a life-changing impact on him was titled, "I Need A Dad". In it I explained the tender, caring love that Abba Father, Papa God, has for each of His children. Now as I sat by Paul's side during corporate prayer I was moved to tears by what I heard him saying. "Please don't let go of my hand, Papa God," he prayed with heartrending sincerity. "I need your help. I need your love. Please don't let go of my hand because you are my Papa."
Moments later the pastor asked Paul to talk to the people. The uneasiness that many of them felt was evident on their countenances and when he stood up to face them he said in a pleading yet reassuring way, "Please don't be afraid of me. I am now your friend."
On Sunday morning the pastor once again warmly received Paul publicly during the service and asked him to speak to the congregation. All week people from the church had come to his home to personally welcome him as their new brother and when he stood before the congregation this time his words reflected his deep gratitude for their many expressions of kindness. "I know God loves me," he said with his right hand in the air clasping his Bible and the other hand lifted up in praise to God, "because you have shown me that you love me."
For the next five minutes it was as if the walls of the church reverberated with the loud cheers that rose from the people and at the end of the service many more believers reached out to him.
Early the following week Steve Mayanja, the senior pastor of Seguku Worship Center, shared with us while Paul stood quietly close by, "He is growing fast and he has a most excellent spirit that is humble and teachable."
Then looking at us intently he expressed the same thought that Dan had spoken to us when we first met him, "If all you did when you came to Africa was touch the life of this one man then to my people it would have been worth you coming because his conversion will affect so many lives."
At that point Paul motioned that he wanted us to go into the church with him and we followed him up to the altar. There he reverently knelt down on the concrete floor and holding our hands tightly in his he offered up a childlike prayer of thanks to "Yesu Kristo". Then with a warm hug he said goodbye and returned home to his family.
By now we had heard that Paul and his wife were studying the Bible together for hours at a time and often late into the night. Paul was already preaching the Gospel to unsaved friends and neighbors and to the many clients who continued to come to his house. When we learned that his son and daughter were his first converts I immediately remembered the powerful promise in Acts 16:31, "You and your whole household will be saved."
Paul's sisters still openly opposed him but faster than any of us ever expected he put his house in order. One evening when we came to visit his family his sisters responded rudely to us and without hesitation he told them, "I have made my decision. This house now belongs to the Lord. If you don't like it you can leave." From that moment they ceased their blatant resistance to the Gospel and gradually a softening came into their spirits.
Plans were now made to dedicate Paul's home and property to the Lord. The night before the dedication we joined him and Hillary at the place where the shrine once towered high among the trees. Under the canopy of the African night the newly cleared area was softly lit by a myriad of stars. Quite spontaneously the four of us raised our hands to the heavens and offered up glory to God for the miraculous things He had done while Hillary danced before Him with an almost uncontainable joy. We prepared to leave and Paul turned to us and said, "You have the place of a mother and father in my heart.
You are now my Mama and Papa and I give you part of my land." In Africa when someone gives you his land he is actually saying, "You are closer to me than even my own family." It was also later explained to us by our dear friend from the bush, Pastor Godfrey, "It is unheard of that one of my people would give part of his land to a "muzungu" (white person). I can hardly believe that he has done such a thing," he said as he shook his head in disbelief. "Something most unusual and most powerful has surely happened in this man's heart for him to give you such a gift."
Through the words of our friend we began to grasp the depth of love Paul was expressing to us in giving us his land and we agreed that he had a sacred, unforgettable place in our hearts as well.
The following morning we traveled with Paul and Hillary through the deeply rutted roads of the bush to Lake Victoria. When we arrived at our destination several pigs were rummaging through piles of rotting trash nearby and a hen darted and pecked through the sand in search of food with her young chicks following closely after her. Weather beaten boats dotted the shoreline and soon we boarded a small, wooden vessel and its crew took us far out upon the lake.
Paul signaled the men who were rowing to stop and after cutting open two bulky sacks he threw into the lake the remains of the things he had used for witchcraft that could not be destroyed by fire. As soon as the last one disappeared under the water and slipped away forever we gave a mighty shout to the Lord and headed back to the dock. The rickety boat moved swiftly across the placid lake while Paul sat at the helm and with fists clenched in victory and lifted to the sky he cried out, "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you so much. I can't thank you enough, Jesus."
Later that afternoon born again friends and neighbors, pastors and believers from Seguku Worship Center and Paul's newly saved family gathered together. We joined hands where an altar to Satan used to be used for horrendous evil and now we consecrated it to the Lord and worshipped the Holy One of Israel. While I stood in this circle of love I marveled that just as the Apostle Paul went from darkness into the light so we were witnessing an enemy of the Gospel being transformed according to II Corinthians 5:17
"When someone is joined to Christ he is a new being. The old is gone and the new has come. All this is done by God who changes us from enemies into friends."
For a brief moment I closed my eyes to soak up the presence of the Lord and His peace that hovered over us like a gentle cloud. Gratefully I listened to the sound of God's people exalting Him in this place and I could only whisper, "Oh God, thank you for the miracle of Your redeeming love. I will never forget this man who was once a tormented witchdoctor and now he yearns to tell everyone
"I'm Paul! I'm saved! I'm free!"