Against the Forces of Darkness
Togo, West Africa, is the seat of the cultish practices of the voodoo religion. It is a land of witch doctors and sorcery. It is a place where curses from the village witch doctor really come to pass if a sacrifice is not made to appease the spirits, and where babies are subjected to facial scaring to identify them with a particular family and village. Nothing has changed for thousands of years in regard to sorcery in this land. Modern sorcery is not much different from what we read about in the Bible during the time of Ahab or the Pharaohs.
Just recently, I visited this small country tucked between Ghana and Benin. My main purpose for traveling to Togo was to conduct an evangelistic series, evaluate the work and organize a training school for the workers. While I was there, I saw firsthand what God’s people are up against when preaching the Third Angel’s Message to this country of darkness and superstition.
One day I found myself face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of sorcerers, each trying to display their power and see who had the greatest magic. The victor would control the village in which he lived. He would be revered by all in the village as someone with great authority who has the ability to know and communicate with the spirits. To be the village witch doctor means more livestock, bribes and many gifts.
These gatherings draw many sorcerers and want-to-be witch doctors from all the surrounding villages. At these meetings the sorcerers perform the most degrading acts of violence to themselves to prove the power of their magic. They will stab themselves, lacerate their flesh and eat live animals (such as snakes, frogs and rats). The devil will perform many acts of trickery for these witch doctors. When a sorcerer becomes possessed of the devil, he can cut himself and then heal the wound to show that his power is greater than the next sorcerer.
These are all acts of delusion performed by the devil or his evil angels. The devil cannot heal or create anything, but he can pretend. When Aaron and Moses were in the court of Egypt, Pharaoh asked them to show some miracle to prove who they were, so “Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.” And the Bible says that “Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.” Exodus 7:10-12. Commenting on these verses Ellen White says:
“The magicians seemed to perform several things with their enchantments similar to those things which God wrought by the hand of Moses and Aaron. They did not really cause their rods to become serpents, but by magic, aided by the great deceiver, made them to appear like serpents, to counterfeit the work of God. Satan assisted his servants to resist the work of the Most High, in order to deceive the people, and encourage them in their rebellion. Pharaoh would grasp at the least evidence he could obtain to justify himself in resisting the work of God performed by Moses and Aaron. He told these servants of God that his magicians could do all these wonders. The difference between the work of God and that of the magicians was, one was of God, the other of Satan. One was true, the other false.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 184.
Several interesting points are made in this paragraph. The sorcerers were aided by the great deceiver to perform these miracles of trickery for the purpose of resisting the work of God and deceiving the people. This is the devil’s game plan in this country of darkness and superstition. He wants to counteract the work that God is doing in hearts and to deceive the people into thinking that they cannot break free from this satanic power.
The devil is working hard through every means at his disposal to keep his subjects in his grasp. Even if one was to stop believing in the superstitions and ancestral worship that most of the people of Togo revere, the devil has a deception especially prepared for that person. There is a very large denomination in Togo called the Assemblies of God. They teach their congregations to leave this life of devil dances and sorcery; but if you were to attend their services on Sunday, the dancing in the church is very similar to what happens at a devil dance.
The Bible workers that we support face these circumstances every day that they are out witnessing. The hold that the devil has on the minds of these people who believe these teachings of their forefathers is very great. But “nevertheless He left not Himself without witness….” Acts 14:17.
Three years ago there was a man by the name of Paca who came to the evangelistic meetings that we were holding in the same village where I was this year. I remember baptizing him in the river near the place where we held the meetings. I had never heard his testimony of how he became a Christian. But this year, after I preached about Sunday worship being the mark of the beast, he gave his testimony to encourage those who were hanging in the balances about their decision to keep the Sabbath. He told about his former life of drunkenness and revelry. He told about his involvement in the occult practices of the witch doctors and sorcerers. He told about how he had been working very hard to become the next village witch doctor.
All that changed when he listened to the all-powerful Word of God at the meetings. The Holy Spirit convicted him of his sins, and he responded. He decided that he would give himself totally to the Lord. He tossed out all alcohol from his home and never touched it again. Since that time he gave up the idea of becoming a sorcerer. He is now a full-time Bible worker for the church and is bringing many souls out of their superstitious beliefs through his witnessing. His testimony inspired many at the meetings to make a complete surrender to the Lord.
After witnessing the devil’s power displayed in these devil dances, I wanted Satan’s power to be broken in the lives of those who were coming to our meetings. I visited with and knew many who were struggling to let go of their former beliefs that have been handed down through their parents and grandparents. Some took their stand, but some buckled under the pressure from parents and friends. But God’s Word is more powerful than all of Satan’s schemes to hold people in superstition.
We were able, during the meetings, to witness true conversions taking place right before our eyes. Souls were being wrestled from the grasp of Satan’s many machinations. The workers had labored hard with many of these dear souls months before I arrived, and many of them made their final decision to obey and follow the Lord in keeping the Sabbath and all of His Commandments by the time that the public meetings had ended. Much prayer and Bible study was invested in these precious souls, but it was not in vain. The last Sabbath that I was there, we held a baptism in which 43 persons took their stand to follow Jesus into that watery grave. When we ask God to send His Holy Spirit ahead and prepare people’s hearts to receive the truth, He answers.
The workers have opposition from the Roman Catholics, Muslims, Evangelicals and the ancient superstitions of the fathers. But God’s Word is being proclaimed in this country with power. Please pray that the forces of darkness can be broken in this nation.
By Pastor Mike Bauler. Pastor Mike is the mission projects coordinator for Mission Projects International and the pastor of Historic Message Church in Portland, Oregon. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Support for the work in Togo can be sent to Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058.