From March 2000 United News
Zambian Brethren Face Challenges
Our brethren who live in the outlying regions of Zambia experience some unique challenges as they endeavor to obey God and stick with the truth. For example, the mystic superstitions that prevail among the people where they live. This is a constant problem they have to contend with.
Fortunately our members understand the truth and plan of God, and scriptures such as 1 John 4:4 are a great comfort to them. However, that does not mean that they do not have to deal with the pressure family members, friends and neighbors exert on them. For example, ancestor worship is very much a part of the tradition and way of life of their community, and they are expected to participate in certain ceremonies that are contrary to what they know is in the Bible, and fall in the realm of witchcraft (called juju). These ceremonies deal with the so-called spirits of their ancestors.
When a person dies, an animal (usually an ox) is slaughtered, and family and friends are invited to the post-funeral feast. However, in order to appease the spirit of the departed, the ox is stampeded and then followed by young men with spears. It is slowly speared to death as it runs along. The longer it takes to die, the more the spirit of the dead person is mollified and pacified.
Most of our members are farmers. They are expected to perform certain rituals to appease the spirits before they plant their lands. A trough is dug and filled with various objects obtained from the local witch doctor. Our members refuse to follow this custom, which incurs the wrath of other farmers in the area who blame them if the crop is not good. Sometimes there are reprisals from angry neighbors.
Then there is the aspect of paying to counteract a curse placed on you by someone you may have antagonized. This is done through a medium, or avenging spirit, called a ngozi. On my last visit I was told of an old lady who had a mysterious snake that lived in a drain near her home. It was described as a dragon-like snake that she had cultivated from a little worm, and possessed abnormal powers that could be used over people. At night she would feed and nurture it. The locals were convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that it existed, even though they had not personally seen it. However, they assured me that there were others who had seen it at night. I offered to put my hand into the hole, but then changed my mind as that may be tempting more than just fate!
So please keep our members in mind who live in different areas of the world, and who face matters and concerns that we do not ourselves encounter. The truth of God is a constant help and encouragement to our people there, and our literature is made available to Zambians.
Following is a letter received on January 5 from Zambia:
André van Belkum