“…it could be that the huge old tree is a Spirit Tree. If we were to cut it down, we’re not really sure what the spirits would do to the people who cut it down.”
Published on: 12-29-2021
The huge old tree needed to be removed, chopped down, and taken away before it caused any more damage to the roof of the missionary’s house. The roof was flat, covered now with leaves and dead branches, especially during wind and rain. And it rained a lot in their African home in Burkina Faso.
No problem, thought Gilberto, the missionary. Every day our members come by to ask for food money, or to see if we might know of any work they could do. I’ll justlet them know that we’ll pay for someone to cut down the old tree. The tree should be down in less than a week.
Pastor Gilberto spread the word. Everyone talked about the huge old tree, but no one offered to do the job.
One week passed, then two. Then three long rainy weeks slipped by without a single person showing interest in the job or the money. So Pastor Gilberto asked a couple of the church leaders what was wrong.
* * *
“Well, Pastor,” they whispered, “you see, well, some people believe that maybe, ummm, possibly that, well, it could be that the huge old tree is a Spirit Tree. If we were to cut it down, we’re not really sure what the spirits would do to the people who cut it down. We wouldn’t be certain, but if someone in the family falls sick, we would know the spirits were at work harming us because we cut down their tree.”
“That’s the way it is with spirits,” one of the church elders said. “You never know what they will do, but they will hurt you. Probably, if we cut down their tree, it will be standing up right there again the next morning.”
Pastor Gilberto listened to his members, argued with them about how much power God has over demonic spirits, and even showed them Bible stories about how God is stronger than the enemy. No one seemed convinced, so Pastor Gilberto called in a nonbeliever to take down the tree. It was gone in two days. Permanently gone. Turned into firewood, with a loud witness to the greater power of God.
Pastor Gilberto, and his wife, Glaucia, had come to Burkina Faso from Brazil, eager to guide people to Jesus, looking for every possible way to show how Jesus is far more powerful than the spirits the people had worshipped for so many years. With their young assistant, they visited members and made new friends.
* * *
“Please, Pastor, could you visit my neighbor?” one member asked. “She is paralyzed in her bed and would like a pastor to pray for her.”
She was a businesswoman, a very successful importer. Since Burkina Faso is a landlocked country, she had to travel through neighboring Togo to the port of Lomé to purchase goods for her business. She was comfortable with the travel but was very unhappy with the customs taxes she was having to pay when she returned to Burkina. One of her friends suggested that maybe a local sorcerer could help her reduce the taxes. Thinking this might be a good idea, she visited the sorcerer and described her problem. He listened closely, especially when she described how she wanted to become a very wealthy businesswoman, making much money from her imports.
“I have a solution for your problem, one that will help you become very rich,” the sorcerer said. “I am going to give you this small leather amulet. You must always wear it on your left arm, and whenever you come to the border crossing, tap the amulet three times with your right hand. When you tap it, your purchases will become invisible. When you have passed through the customs station, you will then tap it three more times, and your purchases will be visible again. Do this, and you will never have to pay the customs tax.”
The woman believed, accepted the leather amulet, and tied it to her left arm beneath her robes. The next time she went to the port she purchased a large quantity of goods. As she neared the customs station on her return to Burkina, she did as the sorcerer had told her. Three simple taps on the amulet and suddenly all her purchases disap- peared, and she walked through without paying any taxes. When she was back on the bus, three quick taps brought her purchases back, and she was able to sell them at a large profit.
* * *
The process worked well for several months, and she was quickly becoming the wealthy woman of her dreams, but then she began to feel ill. The sorcerer, a witch doctor, and a spirit medium all gave her medications and treatments for the illness and charged her high prices for the promised healing. Before long she was giving almost all of her money to them in exchange for treatments that weren’t working very well. The illness grew worse, and she was finally confined to her bed, barely able to move. The closer she got to the spirits, the worse her life became.
“Please, Pastor, could you visit my neighbor?” the member had asked Gilberto’s young assistant. “She is paralyzed in her bed and would like a pastor to pray for her.”
The young pastor came, told the woman about Jesus, and prayed for her, returning every day to bring her the hope that comes from trusting God’s power. She loved what she was hearing, and accepted Jesus as her personal Savior. But she was still lying in her bed, too ill to get up.
“Can Jesus cure me?” she asked.
“Yes, Jesus can heal you, but you must trust Him completely and abandon the spirits totally. You cannot serve Jesus and the spirits at the same time.”
When she understood, she asked the pastor to bring her the box that was in the corner of her room. “It has the amulet and all of my other spirit things in it,” she said. “We must take it to your church and burn it all up.”
The church members agreed, and the next day they brought the woman and her box to the church for a burning. Together they prayed, lit the fire, and sang many songs of victory and worship.
“I want only one God,” she declared as the box burned. “I want to serve Jesus completely.”
A couple weeks later the woman was well enough to come to church and be baptized as a follower of Jesus. “I must follow Him completely,” she always said. “Trusting only the mighty power of Jesus! The closer I get to Jesus, the happier I am.”