Wednesday, May 18, 2005
By BosNewsLife News Center
PORTO-NOVO, BENIN (BosNewsLife)-- Voodoo leaders in the African nation of Benin who kidnapped and threatened to possibly "sacrifice" the children of a missionary couple to a Voodoo god, have returned them to their parents, missionaries confirmed, Wednesday, May 18.
In addition at least several Voodoo followers involved in the kidnapping reportedly abandoned their religion and became 'born-again' Christians, said Christian Aid Mission (CAM), which supports the indigenous missionaries in the troubled region.
CAM said in a statement to BosNewsLife that "the children's release was negotiated by local
Christians in contact with the police and the Voodooist kidnappers."
"Many feared that the children would be used as human sacrifices, a practice still observed by
some Voodoo worshippers in Benin. Indeed, when kidnappers learned that Christians had made contact with local police, they threatened to kill the children. However, through careful negotiations and much prayer, the children have been returned to their parents."
KIDNAPPING AND VIOLENCE
CAM said earlier that the kidnapping of the children and violence against their parents Jeremie and Augustine was sparked by anger among religious leaders over their decision to serve among the Fon tribe in a remote village for one year. "They had won 25 people, most from Voodoo backgrounds, to the Lord and started a small fellowship," CAM headquarters said.
"A Voodooist district chief arrested the missionaries along with several other converts and demanded they leave the village or reject Christ. When the Christians refused to do either, they were beaten, stripped and threatened with castration." Soon after the children, whose names and ages were not released, were reportedly kidnapped by Voodoo leaders.
CAM stressed that the kidnapping around May 1 and the eventual successful outcome produced "another miraculous outcome" as it "led to the establishing of a new church." In a statement released by CAM a missionary was quoted as saying the church was founded after he prayed for a dying village chief in an area where the children were held, but where he was not welcomed in the past.
VILLAGE CHIEF "HEALED"
Christians helped him to locate the house of the village chief who the unidentified missionary claimed "God had showed" him in his prayers. "I went directly to the people gathered at the man's house to ask about him, and they said he was ill and near death. I quickly told them I had come from far away and God had told me to pray for him. The people started to look at one another [and] the man's son told me, 'He is over there in the room.' I entered and
started to pray."
"After seven minutes of prayer, the man awoke from three days on his death bed. He stood up and followed me, and we came out together. People started to call the name of God [and] I took the Word and began to preach."
The missionary said he told the villagers, including Voodoo believers, that "this Jesus whom you resisted in this village is the same who came to you today and raised somebody, your respected great chief, from his death bed. He is ready to heal many people. Are you ready to receive Him?" He claimed that all villagers "gave their lives to Jesus," although no exact figures were released.
NEW CHURCH STARTED
"A new church was started in this place" and on May 4 the children were released and returned to their mother, the missionary said in the CAM statement. Their father and two other believers who were injured in the initial attack were reportedly released from hospital. They are now welcomed in the new church of their former persecutors, he reportedly added.
CAM said it "rejoiced to see God's hand of deliverance and restoration in this area of Benin, a country bound for centuries by Voodoo." In Benin, indigenous beliefs comprise half of the 7 million strong population, while Christians make up 30 percent and Muslims 20 percent, according to estimates.