The third day in Ethiopia, Lacey (http://kansasandcosmos.wordpress.com/) shared a story with our team that I wanted to relay to the world. It’s a story of good and evil, of deception and fear, of control and manipulation, of good over evil – the fairy tale, however, in truth and reality.
I’d like to caveat the following story for the western mindset. In America, there isn’t witchcraft, voodoo, or other eerie mysticism. That isn’t how Satan chooses to control us; he chooses much more intellectually benign things like busyness, money, status, hedonism, and pride (our own pride in our intellectual ability to reason away the reality of the spiritual).
God opened my eyes to the spiritual world in a very real way one day while I was in a rural Ethiopian village to tell the people about our upcoming clinics and share the Gospel. I walked past a hut where my translator said they worshiped a spirit, and dark smoke filled the air surrounding the home. We also came across a large tree with fabric tied around the trunk, and I found out some of the local villagers worshiped the tree. But the biggest revelation came from two small lemons on the side of the road.
As the translator Jerusalem and disciple maker Haiminot and I walked down the dirt road, we passed another house with smoke coming from it. Jerusalem told me the family of that house worships the devil and tries to put curses on people in the village. As we continued our journey through the village, we saw two small lemons on the side of the road. I thought it was odd to see the fruit in such a random spot in rural Ethiopia, but didn’t think much beyond that. I was about to continue walking, when Haiminot stopped to pick up the lemons. Jerusalem told me the lemons were actually used by the family whose house we just passed in creating their potions and curses, and then they throw the lemons on the side of the road. Whoever picks up the lemons or accidentally steps on them is supposed to get the curse. (Sidebar – this is exactly how Satan works, he uses fear and manipulation to control.)
Without any hesitation or fear that maybe he really could get a curse, Haiminot carried the lemons with him throughout the village, playfully tossing them in the air. We continued our walk down the road and Haiminot saw a young farmer who he said we needed to go speak with. We all sat down on the ground, and even though I couldn’t understand the conversation between Haiminot and the farmer, it was clear they already knew each other. After sharing the Gospel, the young man didn’t want to accept Christ, but said he did want to invite us into his home to learn more. Unfortunately his wife wasn’t home so we couldn’t speak further, but Haiminot said he’d return at a later day.
During the conversation, the young farmer asked Haiminot why in the world he was holding the lemons when he knew what potential they had. Haiminot replied that because of Christ, he doesn’t need to worry about a curse having power over him since Christ rules the world. I later found out that this young farmer was actually the son of the family who throws out the lemons.
Every villager we met had a huge fear of two small pieces of fruit. When they saw the lemons in Haiminot’s hands they would take a step back away from us. Children would say, “Dirty! Dirty!” and adults would fearfully shake their heads “No” when Haiminot asked if they wanted to touch the lemons. The two small lemons became a huge testament to the villagers about trust and reassurance in the power of Christ to protect us. After a long day of walking throughout the village, Haiminot went home…and ate the lemons for a snack, confident in the power of Christ.