An OMS Haiti missionary had finished evangelizing several families living on a remote hillside in Haiti, where there are few roads in the area. As the missionary and his guide walked down the footpath, suddenly the guide stopped and looked back up the trail. He pointed out a small piece of paper under a rock and explained to the missionary that the paper was a witchdoctor’s curse.
The missionary asked his guide, “Why would a witch doctor put a curse here?” The guide responded, “This kind of thing happens all the time. We call it health-trade or wealth-trade. This is probably what happened: “Some unfortunate person was sick (or poor or fearful, etc.), probably because of a curse. So, she or he probably gave a witchdoctor a chicken and asked for healing. First, the witchdoctor killed and ate the chicken. Next, he scribbled some lines on that scrap of paper and promised that the chicken-giver’s illness would be traded for the health of an unfortunate passerby. It’s a reasonable trade for us.”
The missionary asked, “Is it possible that someone gave the witch doctor a chicken to put a blessing on the path so that travelers on that path would be well, wealthy, and happy?”
Stunned, the guide looked at the missionary as if he had lost his mind. He thought for a long moment and then burst out laughing, “No! That’s impossible. Why would anyone give the witchdoctor a chicken to do something nice for a stranger, perhaps even an enemy? In the best case, it would be like trading a perfectly delicious chicken for nothing. In the worst case, it could cause your death because of strengthening your enemy. The chicken-giver would still be sick and have one less chicken.” The guide then asked, with a slight hint of condescension, “Does that seem reasonable to a missionary?”
In contrast, God revealed his glorious paths of righteousness and life, which are found through his Son Jesus. God revealed his life-giving way through his holy apostles and prophets. We diligently search the Bible for those messages. One way to discover those treasures is through a set of skills, sometimes known as Inductive Bible Study. The contrast is stark. On one side are the writers of the Bible. On the other are voodoo witch doctors who scratch random scribbles. On both sides, there are contrasting methods, purposes and outcomes. We choose life.
Training through One Mission Society’s Theological Education helps equip pastors and other church leaders to minister in truth situations like this and many others. Rev. Leopoldo Oyola, director of the OMS-related seminary in Guayaquil, Ecuador, received his training at the OMS-related seminary in Colombia. It was there that he learned about inductive Bible study from OMS missionaries. Leopoldo was so transformed by this way of valuing and applying the Bible, that when he returned to Ecuador, he immediately implemented IBS in his church. He has now trained many in his congregation, and they, in turn, are now teaching others, including students at his seminary.