Jon was able to catch up with Royd recently, who told him an incredible story about how a Life Group got involved in a quarrel between two men that threatened to deepen the tensions of mistrust in their village.
Kundamfuma is an area just south of Mansa on the road to the Congo. There’s a Life Group that meets regularly there and Royd recently visited. The Life Group leaders told him that they had caught wind of a story about two men arguing over accusations of witchcraft. In this community, there is a deep set belief that illnesses never occur organically and are, in fact, always caused by something or someone. So when one man’s child became ill, he consulted the local witchdoctor who told him to accuse the other man of cursing him.
Of course, this was not the case at all and the other man became increasingly agitated at the accusations. Their quarrels became so heated, they had to visit the Chief to try and reconcile them. However, even the Chief could not put an end to their arguments. Angry and innocent, the accused man took the man with the sick child to court, wanting compensation for how the accusations had affected his life.
At this point, the Life Group leaders decided to visit the Chief to make sense of what had happened as they were not happy with how much the situation had escalated. They asked if they could go and try and reconcile the two parties, even though official proceedings had already begun. The chief was grateful that other people were invested in the situation and happily gave his consent to try and reconcile the two men. Firstly, they went to the accused man and asked him to forgive the other – and amazingly he did. The Life Group then helped him pay off his fee for withdrawing the case from court. Then they went to the man with the sick child and prayed for him, asking him to bring God into the situation and understand that his child’s illness was not caused by witchcraft. The man came to understand and dropped all accusations.
Although there was a peaceful resolution to this story, this is a very common occurrence in rural, out-skirt communities. People fundamentally believe that sickness doesn’t just happen: there has to be someone responsible. This can cause relationships to become very sour, cause rifts in communities that create sub-divisions and even form clans that will constantly be at war with each other. It has caused a lot of people to want to leave their homes in fear and live peacefully away from the tensions of the village. Royd said that even his own mother and her sisters had been affected by the turbulence caused by witchcraft accusations. They had to move quickly from their hometown, fearing the violence that would inevitably follow. But the reality is that wherever they go, people and children will always get sick. This is a reality of life, not witchcraft. However, if left unattended, this cycle will continue.
This Life Group stepped in and brought these people back together. As people grow in Christ they can mature and understand the truth to these situations. Encouraging people within Life Groups to stand on the word of God, despite what is happening around them. For the two men in that community, their lives have changed. The chief as well has a new respect for the Life Groups for what they have been able to do and a new precedent has been set.