There is a very disturbing trend growing in the Niger Delta communities of Nigeria. Increasingly, children are being persecuted, harmed, abandoned and even murdered on the basis that they are ‘witches’.
The irrational fear that originates from a deeply held belief that certain children are ‘witches’ cuts across all tiers of Nigerian society. To summarise, there is a belief that a spiritual spell can be placed on an individual through food and drink. The soul of such an individual is believed to leave their body and join up with other witches and wizards at a gathering. The individual in question is then empowered to wreak havoc in the lives of others through disease, misfortune, accidents, poverty and so on. In a society filled with problems, it is easier to ascribe their causes to ‘witches’ rather than acknowledge responsibility and turn to God for help. More recently, this belief system has taken a disturbing trend by shifting the focus to children. Fuelled by movies like End of the Wicked from Nollywood, this trend has graduated to becoming a full-fledged belief that has resulted in the death of many innocent children.
Other factors that have contributed to worsening the scenario are extreme poverty, a lack of education, superstitious beliefs, and an increased number of broken homes. Perhaps the most disturbing contributing factor to all this is religious profiteering. The people who God has given the responsibility to protect children are the very ones sentencing them to death with careless declarations and prophecies. The moment a self-styled ‘man of God’ declares that the cause of an illness in a home is their innocent child, that child’s life more often than not will take a turn for the worse. They will begin to be tormented and punished and in some extreme cases, killed. All the while, they have no clue what is going on and cannot understand why they are being labelled ‘witches’. While I am careful not to generalise every ministry that identifies a child as a witch, it is impossible to ignore the positive correlation between the role of the church (especially the Pentecostal expression) and the increased spreading of beliefs in child witchcraft. For selfish ambitions, certain pastors are branding children as witches and influencing their parents to treat them wickedly. I’m sorry but this is simply unbiblical.
This is another ploy used by Satan to inflict his ministry of death on innocent lives. Unfortunately, the high levels of ignorance in such regions means that the people are perishing. The pastors who are meant to be shepherding their souls are the very ones leading them to destruction. There is nothing Christ-like about instructing a family to take a child (witch or not) to the forest to be slaughtered. There is nothing scriptural about bathing a young child in acid to cure them of witchcraft. There is nothing prophetic about chaining and torturing children in churches in order to extract a confession. Jesus would never condone burying children alive under any circumstances! This has got to stop.
As I wrote this post, an image from the bible kept flashing in my mind. It’s the story of the boy with the unclean spirit and how Jesus healed him. You can find the context in Mark 9:14-29 but I would like to focus on the care and concern showed by the boy’s father in verses 17, 18, 21 and 22: 17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” 21Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
Children are their parents’ responsibilities. This man showed the correct attitude of biblical parenthood. He was desperate to help his child and Jesus came to the rescue. The parents of these children branded as ‘witches’ have a duty to protect them from unscrupulous charlatans who are out to benefit only themselves. Even if it is indeed true that a child is a ‘witch’, should their response not be one of compassion towards the predicament in which their child has found themselves? The focus should turn towards seeking responsible help in getting their child delivered from their torment and not to add to it. The children are helpless in all this because those whom God has placed the responsibility of their lives have outsourced that task to a ‘man of God’ somewhere. Very scary stuff indeed.
The fact is that children are a heritage from the Lord. Parents are simply stewards of God’s treasures that have the privilege of being a part of the destiny God has for those children. They have absolutely no rights whatsoever to decide if a child should live or die. Worse still, those pastors who make brash pronouncements without ensuring that the parents are counselled to responsibly protect and love their children will have to answer to God one day. My heart goes out to the children who have lost their homes, families, limbs, dignity and so on. Find out more about this issue and do something about it. You can start by clicking on this link.
- Young Children Accused of Being Evil Witches: (chrfund.wordpress.com)
- ‘Buried alive’: New report reveals suffering of Nigeria’s child ‘witches’ (dailymail.co.uk)
- Battle over Nigeria’s “Child-Witches” (barthsnotes.wordpress.com)