Voodoo: A Surprise Encounter
Friday, March 07, 2014
Last week during village ministry, our translators stopped us at the gate of a house, and warned us that we were about to enter the home of a voodoo princess. It was the most memorable experience of that week for me, but not due to any supernatural sorcery of spectacular spiritual manifestations. The lady was kind enough, and listened to everything we had to say. We asked her about God, Jesus, why she practiced voodoo – all the questions one might ask someone who dabbles in the dark side – but her responses were perplexing. She believed in God and knew He was the highest being. She believed in Jesus and knew what He did for us. So what was the problem? She began to tell us that she only practiced voodoo to help people in good ways, she even had a teenage girl present with her who testified that this voodoo princess had healed her of a serious ailment that no doctors could help with. She continued to tell us that even in practical ways, she was a good hearted person: She gave to those poorer than her, and if she had extra food she would share with those in need. I was stuck. She was loving her neighbor as herself and had a benevolent heart, even if she occasionally used questionable supernatural forces to do so. What was stopping her from seeking and worshipping the One True God? We had covered God, we had covered Jesus, there was one more link in the chain where a potential kink could exist. We asked her if she ever went to church, and it was here that we first got a glimpse of the root. She didn’t go to church or associate with Christians, because she didn’t like them. She had quite a lot to say about the example of “Christian” behavior she had witnessed: People who don’t share with their neighbors, speak evil and gossip, and use their Christian status as a ploy to exploit from people for their own good. As far as she was concerned, she was more of a “Christian” than they were. Woah. She was right. It reminded me of something Jesus said:
Many Gentiles will come from all over the world and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many for whom the Kingdom was prepared will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This lady was close to the kingdom of God, and it was those who carried the title of “Christian” that were her biggest hurdle to enter in. Same story on this island of Haiti as we have back home. People in all nations of the world are seeking for truth, and hypocrisy is no less repulsive for voodoo princesses as it is for atheists. As Brennan Manning puts it:
The greatest single cause for atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle.
Or as Gandhi so bluntly put it:
I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians.
In the end, I think (and continue to pray) that we were able to assuage this woman’s disgust for Christians by telling her that as unfortunate as it is, this same behavior happens in North America as well, but that it doesn’t negate the truth of Jesus Christ. We explained that there are true Christians out there, who are just as disgusted with how hypocrisy taints the name of our Savior. I hope she gets it, I hope that conversation was the start of her coming to know the truth… she seemed responsive to our conversation, and we left her a bible at her request. But the experience left me marked nonetheless. We are all responsible for representing Jesus to a world that’s starved for the truth. And if we don’t represent Him well, we are pushing them away from the only true way to the light of the Father, and deeper into the darkness of the enemy’s kingdom. We are the church, we are the hope on earth, intended to shine out the light of our God in the darkness. Let’s not just pray that God builds His Kingdom here on earth, let’s let Him start with our own hearts, allowing Him to transform us into pure vessels cleansed from all hypocrisy and duplicity.