Guest Blogger: Dian Wood
You have got to be kidding! Child sacrifice is a superstitious practice from ancient times, isn’t it?
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)
Is child sacrifice still prevalent today? As believers in Jesus Christ we are to focus on the power of God, knowing that Christ is the Truth and in him we are set free from spiritual bondage. Paul taught the Corinthians to “not be unaware of the schemes of the devil”. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 (NIV). I believe that Satan and his demons have different strategies for different countries and people over which they rule. Demonic control seems to vary in intensity from one region to another. Demonic forces have different faces or masks in different countries—but one source: Satan. Any time anything separates us from Christ or gets in the way of our personal relationship with Him, Satan has won the battle.
The lure of wealth is mesmerizing among some of the poor in NE Uganda—a people and place I visited in August 2011 as part of a mission team. While dropping off school supplies and soccer balls at our first high school, we noticed a mural painted beside the front door of the school. It was not hard to notice because the slogan accompanying it read, “Stop Child Sacrifice Now.” I stopped dead in my tracks.
The mural itself depicted a beheaded boy on a highway with other figures surrounding him. The graphic violence of what appeared to be child sacrifice was sickening. I had no idea such an evil existed—at least not in today’s “civilized” world.
This is the 21st century after all, not the time of Molech- the detestable idol mentioned sixteen times in the Old Testament to whom children were sacrificed, or to Adrammelech and Anammelech– two other gods to which children were sacrificed as burnt offerings. Jeremiah recorded God’s lament: “They have built pagan shrines to Baal in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing. What an incredible evil, causing Judah to sin so greatly!” Jeremiah 32:35 (NLT)
In the mural I saw a father down on his knees beside the decapitated body of his son, a sister sitting on the road, a mother in a yellow skirt crying, and two grandparents mourning. Strewn on the highway were the boy’s backpack and school papers. With a rifle in one hand and a cell phone in the other, a police officer appears to be calling for help.
Even though students were finished writing their final exams, a teacher somehow assembled fifteen graduating students of Soroti Central Secondary School to talk with us. We met under the shade of a large tree in front of the school, the girls on one side, the boys on the other. The mural was right behind me—out of sight but not out of my mind.
The senior students asked us what it is like to live in Canada and we shared some resources comparing Canada and Uganda. The burning question in our minds was the gruesome mural behind us though. One of the boys explained it to us. In Uganda, if a person wants to become wealthy, they go to the witchdoctor and he will tell them that they can become rich by sacrificing a child. The child does not have to be their own. The teacher explained to us that the mural depicted what happened to the founder of the school. His son was kidnapped and beheaded so someone through superstitious beliefs could get “rich”. Child sacrifice is done in secret in NE Uganda and it is not openly discussed. It is an accepted practice although is unlawful. I was stunned. I had never heard of this before. Why not? Why was it not in the newspapers?
I asked the boys if they really believed that child sacrifice would make them wealthy. Nobody responded. That shocked me even more, because then I realized they actually did believe material wealth came to those who killed children. I had to think quickly to counter their belief system. I asked the students if they thought we, as pale-faced muzungus, were rich– and looked into the eyes of all the girls and boys. They all nodded their heads and softly said, “Yes.” I then asked them if they thought that we practiced child sacrifice. Nobody said a word. They were thinking of the ramifications of this thought on their own belief system– a mindset taught to them since they were small children. After a pause, I told them they were correct… Westerners do not practice child sacrifice, yet we are rich. Or do we?
How prevalent is child sacrifice in Uganda? Child sacrifice has been on the increase since 2005. It has become a business. One Ugandan witch doctor confessed to receiving human body parts three times a week. By the power of God, he has since renounced witchcraft, becoming a follower of Jesus Christ who has convinced 2,400 other witch doctors to give up their satanic practices. The Ugandan government has created a new department called The Anti-Human Sacrifice Police Task Force to tackle child sacrifice. While this sounds good, the truth of the matter is that it consists of one man- Moses Binoga- using a motorcycle with a limited budget at his disposal. In 2009, Mr. Binoga said that 26 children were sacrificed but that 120 were missing. Many believe the number of child sacrifices is much higher for 2009, and everyone agrees the number is increasing each year.
How much do witchdoctors get paid? The usual consultation fee with a witchdoctor is about $260. Much of this fee is given to a witchdoctor’s ‘boss’ who provides illegal ‘protection’ for area witchdoctors by bribing police and government officials. Children left for dead have identified their attackers, only to have their testimony thrown out of court as “unreliable”. In 2009 alone, 125 suspects of human sacrifice were arrested in Uganda, with 54 taken to court. None have been convicted so far.
That is the same with the killer of the boy in the mural I saw. His parents are
Santosand Leah Labeja. They began their own NGO called The Gideon Foundation Against Child Sacrifice after their only son, Gideon, was murdered in an act of child sacrifice in 2006. The murderer of their son was arrested, but was “allowed” to escape. Corruption within the Soroti police force is rampant according to the locals I talked to.
Santos and Leah Labeja believe in re-educating the cultural mindset of Ugandans and have begun a series of art contests. Students enter the contest with drawings for a mural, and the best two are selected to be painted in their school. The Labejas began their project at the school I visited, and have since expanded to others.
I asked Vicki if she has encountered child sacrifice in Liberia. Here is her response: Yes, it is hush, hush in Liberia, but child sacrifices still exist. People were worried about it occurring during the past presidential election b/c in the interior some secret societies still believe if you sacrifice a child it gives you power to win an election. In response to the witchdoctors telling people that various rituals will make you rich and prosperous, one of my students pointed out that the people should be asking the witchdoctors why they are not “rich”? And why do the witchdoctors usually live in poverty like the rest of the people? After all if these rituals truly work the witchdoctors should be the living proof of the ritualistic power. The problem is that when we are kept in the dark and live in fear, we often are afraid or don’t know enough to ask the important questions and see the truth.
Does child sacrifice occur in North America or other countries around the world? The Apostle John wrote: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” Revelation 12:9 (NIV)
Jesus cautioned those who judge others with these words from Matthew 7:3-5 (NLT): “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
Outside of Africa, are demonic “Molech” forces at work? Steve Hickey, a pastor from South Dakota, likens abortion to child sacrifice in his book Molech in America: bloodguilt and the spiritual dynamics behind abortion. In China, infanticide is practiced so that male children have become the preferred gender due to the one-child policy. Recent studies estimate that over 40 million girls are ‘missing’ in China. In India, UNICEF estimates up to 50 million girls are ‘missing’ due to female infanticide. In 1983, the United States was ranked 11th in the world for the killing of infants under 1 year of age and 4th in the world for the killing of children aged 1-14 (Jason, Janine (1983). “Child homicide spectrum”. American Journal of Disease in Children 137: 578). Since then, the numbers have dropped in the U.S. due to the increased number of abortions.
For me, these statistics and comparisons to Uganda are new and hard to digest. I am finding through Vicki’s blog that I am being challenged to examine how demonic forces operate in Liberia, but also similarly operate in North America—using a different mask or face make-up to hide the ugliness of the terrible truth underneath. As a Westerner I can point out the sin of child sacrifice in countries like Uganda, but as I scrutinize my own country and my assumptions up until now, I believe I have been wrong to be so self-righteous. Paul instructed us to, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12b-13 (ESV) Right now I have that fear and trembling. Like David, when confronted by Nathan the Prophet in 2 Samuel 12, I confess my sins and my country’s sins, and repent.
Are you being similarly challenged?
This week’s Think Through: What do you think? Is Satan at work in a “Molech” type of deceit in the whole world? Is abortion a form of child sacrifice? What would you say to Ugandans who seem to believe it is important to become rich, and that one can become rich by sacrificing a child according to the witchdoctor? How are you being convicted?
Guest Blogger: Dian Wood, is a secondary school art teacher in Owen Sound, Ontario,
who has led short-term mission youth/adult teams to Uganda, Brazil’s Amazonia, Sri Lanka, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and northern British Columbia. Her passion is helping the poor, teaching the underprivileged, inspiring Western teens (and adults) to become responsible and compassionate global citizens, and telling everyone about how to have life and peace in Jesus Christ.
In pictures: Child sacrifice in Uganda (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8444047.stm)
Where child sacrifice is a business (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15255357)
Witch-doctors reveal extent of child sacrifice in Uganda (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8441813.stm)
The Gideon Foundation Against Child Sacrifice http://www.gideonfoundation.com