Uganda is home to thousands of witch-doctors. In fact, one of these used to live across the road from my ministry. Although long gone, his memory presents an important reality- witchcraft is alive and well in Uganda.
When New Hope first started, a local witchdoctor approached the leaders and claimed that the Ministry wouldn’t last long. Basically, he gave the Ugandan equivalent of “This town ain’t big enough for the two of us.”
Now, in the present-day, I live five minutes from a small town named Kiwoko. Kiwoko, according to some, is the “witchcraft center” for the entire district. This makes it a hub for witchdoctors and their patients. The hospital, Kiwoko Hospital, treats thousands of patients a week. Because of this influx of sick and needy people, witchdoctors often attempt to lure people away from the hospital and into their homes, where they can offer darker practices for a cheaper price.
Because of witchcraft’s deep hold in Uganda, we even see examples of it here, in New Hope. The first time that I, in recent memory, can remember being exposed to works of witchcraft was when I was about seven years old. It was a Friday night and, as per our tradition, my family was eating pizza and watching a movie. Coincidentally, the movie we watched was Bednobs and Broomsticks, a 1971 Fantasy/Comedy about witchcraft.
The movie, starring Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson, was filmed by the creators of Mary Poppins and actually resembled its sister movie in many ways. However, one piece of the movie remains apart from this comparison- witchcraft. The entire plotline revolves around three children that, during the London Blitz, go to live with a witch. She is a member of a witchcraft correspondence school, capable of flying on brooms and casting spells. The movie would basically state that witchcraft was not only normal, but it was also good.
Sadly, the premise of this movie was entirely wrong, as the next hours would prove. That night, as we watched, my dad got a call. One of his students, an I4GT (Institute for Gospel Transformation) member, was experiencing a demonic attack. Needless to say, I didn’t see my dad the entire night and we never finished the movie. He rushed over to the I4GT and found the student in the middle of a demonic attack. She had attempted to drown herself, but thankfully a few other students had stopped her. After carrying her to a safe place, they proceeded to pray over her for several hours.
This is a dark story, and I won’t tell the entire thing. However, there is one thing that remains true- when my dad and the surrounding elders sang, the symptoms of the attack would lessen. The songs, including Rich Mullins’ Hold Me Jesus, presented the Gospel to a time of utter darkness. As they sang songs about Jesus’ sacrifice, my dad was struck by the reality of Satan’s deceit, and how utterly terrible his kingdom is. God’s kingdom is pure light, something we can turn to in even the darkest of times.
Eventually, the oppression stopped, and the member went to sleep. Because it was well after midnight, the student was taken to the house of a staff member, where she was watched closely for the rest of the night. When she woke up, she was fine (although sore) and had no memory of the previous night’s events.
To a seven-year-old, it was a deeply spiritual weekend. I had no clue about what was going on, but I did know one thing- the atmosphere of my home and the surrounding ministry had changed. I could sense the change as acutely as you can sense a change in temperature.
This sense has remained. To this day, I can usually sense if something is spiritually amiss. The most major incident happened in 2015, when I was twelve. I had been kicking a soccer ball with a close friend John Morton when a woman strolled through the field. (Quick note: While it may seem that all of my experiences in this area are about women, this is simply a coincidence. Men are just as susceptible to demonic oppression as women are) We paused our games and walked over to introduce ourselves. The woman, it turns out, was a cousin to a New Hope Uganda worker, and she was visiting her relative that day.
John introduced himself, then shook her hand. I did likewise, but the moment I touched her hand, I felt something was wrong. I knew that something was off, and it disturbed me. John hadn’t felt anything, so we continued our soccer game, but I remained deeply disturbed the rest of the afternoon.
Later, I told my dad about my experience, and he surprisingly told me that he had felt the same. We have similar senses, although he is more attuned. We quickly prayed, then decided to leave the subject for the rest of the night.
That night, the woman had a demonic attack. Once again, I will not go into details, but that incident proved to be the most spiritually impacting experience of my life. I will never forget it.
These experiences have shaped me and shown me that the demonic world is real. There is no doubt in my mind as to the existence of demons and Satan. If I ever come across a person that believes otherwise, I simply point them to Ephesians 6:12. Spiritual influence is real, and we cannot and should not forget it. It’s ok to be wary of it, but do not give over to the lie that tells us to fear it.
Hollywood did its best attempt to talk about this. In Bednobs and Broomsticks, the movie industry tries to portray witchcraft as something that can be tamed. In essence, to Hollywood, witchcraft is alright. As Christians, we must fight against this and be aware of the reality that witchcraft is both evil and real.
Next week, I will write more about this. I am going to spend this following week researching Miyembe, a spiritual force that is worshiped in the villages surrounding my community. So, don’t forget to pray for God to give you an awareness of the spiritual reality that we live in, and the Victory that the Gospel proclaims over that reality.
Alright, that’s all for today. Thanks so much for reading! I hope you really loved this post. If you haven’t already, be sure to click that Follow button, so as to not miss out on any new posts. Thanks again, and I hope you have a wonderful day.
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