Although we receive many stories of how God is working each year, a few come in that read almost like some of those in the Bible. This one from Madagascar probably fits into that category. Read, rejoice and join in praying for the advancement of the gospel in Africa, and worldwide.
Madagascar is a huge island nation located off the coast of East Africa. Many thousands of small villages dot the countryside, connected by foot trails, rugged roads and rivers. Though some claim a Christian heritage, many don’t know Him and instead worship evil spirits.
In one of these villages lived a powerful witchdoctor, known as the “river priest.” His name as Sidy.
Sidy openly opposed Christ and His followers. He would not allow any Christians to enter the area. And he repeatedly warned his people: “The river god forbids you from eating fish in the river, else you will die.”
He was also the local healer, a shaman in touch with the spirits. But Sidy became quite sick and for four months was unable to heal himself. He was now in extreme pain, with constant vomiting, hardly able to stand. That’s when Pastor Bruno, a dedicated servant of Christ and part of a Madagascar film team arrived. Without asking permission, he set up to show “JESUS” in one of the villages. Sidy heard about it but was too sick to oppose, much less come and watch.
Pastor Bruno felt led to show “JESUS” a second night. This time Sidy was able to come. As often happens, the life of Christ deeply touched many hearts, including his. Sidy was stunned, saying, “I never thought that one would give his life for another. I saw that Jesus loves me.”
Right after the showing, and being deeply conflicted, Sidy wanted to talk with Pastor Bruno. He said: “I am the priest of this river, and now you are bringing me news of another god. If your God can heal me, I will follow Him.” Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Bruno replied, “Your sickness is not from God but from the devil.”
So, Pastor Bruno prayed, standing against Satan and the evil spirit. God healed the witchdoctor!* Pastor Bruno applied his training: “Now I need to teach you more about Jesus Christ.” Next, and before all his people, Sidy announced, “From now on, I will follow Jesus. I have been leading you in the wrong way. It is from Satan. Jesus is the true God.” But some of the people couldn’t believe what they were hearing. How could this authoritative witchdoctor, whom they had long feared, be so radically changed?
Sidy then took a bold step. He went down to the river, caught a fish and ate it publicly. The people protested loudly. “How can you do this?! You’ve told us this is forbidden. You will die!”
But nothing happened. To them it was all overwhelming. Sidy declared: “I have eaten the fish to show you that Jesus is the true God of the river. He healed and saved me.” He then shared the gospel with them and urged them to also eat fish from the river, assuring them, “You will not die.”
The bravest rushed to the water, caught fish and ate as well, without harm. Pastor Bruno also showed them the “JESUS” film. And many believed.
Because he was so respected, Sidy became the pastor of a new church with 20 members and changed his name to “Paul.”
Pastor Bruno took Paul under his wing, teaching him how to read—using the Bible—so he could share the Scriptures and his testimony. Bruno also followed up those new believers, discipled and taught them in their new faith. The new church (where there had been none) has since grown from 20 members to about 75!
Moreover, the people have walked to other villages with Pastor Bruno and the “JESUS” film, along with Paul, the former witchdoctor. They all tell what Jesus has done for them. The result: two more new churches have been planted, 50 and 70 new believers … almost 200 new children of God.
Further, the people now catch fish in the river and sell them in the local markets, improving themselves nutritionally and economically. It’s become quite a business. Best of all, Paul, Pastor Bruno and the believers have a grand vision to take the gospel and “JESUS” to all the surrounding villages. The leaders there are asking for several sets of projection equipment to form new partner film teams. They too will be trained in church planting, follow-up and discipleship. To Him goes the glory! What a wonderful fish story!
Reaching people, following up those who respond and planting churches is what our mission is about. Thank you for your prayers and partnership. May God honor and bless the vital role you play alongside me in these efforts!
*Sometimes it’s not clear whether a sickness is demonically caused, is physical, or both. Yet demonic activity is real and common. Whatever the cause, film teams pray to Jesus, the Great Healer, asking Him to act, to demonstrate His power.