Alessandra woke the next morning with the dream of American cuisine lingering in her mind. Her second thought was about the heavy thud that she had heard the night before during the storm. She dressed and headed to the front gate to have a look at the road in front of the house.
“Wait for me, Alessandra;” Jimmy said, “I want to see it too. I heard the crash last night and could hardly go back to sleep. I kept wondering what it looked like.”
They opened the gate and joined the gathering throng to gape at the spectacle. A huge, old palm tree that had been planted along the main road by the Belgians over fifty years ago lay sprawled in the street. Just then a young man came running up with a story of something from across town. Jimmy translated.
“Last night when the storm was raging, a young mother was sleeping with her infant child on a bamboo mat. Witnesses saw a bolt of lightning flash, roll along the ground like a ball of fire, and enter the mud-brick hut where the young family lay. The lightning struck the mother and child, killing them instantly. The husband, on the other side of a brick wall, escaped uninjured.”
A chorus of groans and “oohs” was followed by one word, “nkisis.” It was repeated often by the crowd. Jimmy said it meant medicine or witchcraft. He explained that the crowd thought the woman had an enemy who had placed a spell upon her, said that this belief was a stronghold in the culture.
Although the thought of witchcraft and its power seems unusual to our western ears, it’s a very real concern in the Congolese culture. If given a choice of believing that the lightning strike was an accident or the work of witchcraft, the people of the Congo would lean toward the evil medicine every time. The Bible warns, “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself rather unto godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7) Whether refusing old traditions or the power of real spiritual evil, we need to grasp Scripture and refuse tradition. The Word of God has the final say, not the culture of the Congo nor the culture of another nation. Turning away from evil is always wise. Turning to the power of Scripture is always commendable. Let’s refuse old wives’ tales. Let’s cling to godliness.