“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”
1 John 3:8b
This is one of my favorite verses in Scripture, and I am honored that God has given Charis the opportunity to witness the power of this verse almost daily. Over the last few months we have seen Satan’s power abolished in the lives of his servants, the vodou priests/priestesses, and I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you with a few stories that will reveal this power of God that indeed does “destroy the works of the devil."
Over the next few weeks, you will hear stories of how God has transformed the hearts of 4 vodou priests. First is the story of Latigue.
Latigue is a man in his 60's who I was never planning to see, due to the fact that I wasn’t aware of him or his involvement in vodou. I was actually on my way to see a vodou priest named Sila (who we have now been to many times). But that day Sila wasn’t at home.
A change in plans
As we were leaving Sila’s property, a local man mentioned that another vodou priest lived nearby. Understanding this to be from the Lord, we went to this man’s home. As Christians, we must never consider a failure in our plans to be a failure in God’s plans for that day. In fact, our perceived failure may be God’s way of directing us toward His will and away from our own. So we must never allow ourselves to get upset when things don’t go our way. The most incredible harvests have followed what I initially considered a failure or disappointment.
"We must never consider a failure in our plans to be a failure in God's plans for that day."
When we arrived at this man’s home, we immediately observed the extreme poverty that he was living in. He was sitting on his porch, and when he saw us approaching his small piece of property he stood up and invited us to sit down. After telling him who we were and why we were there, he was willing to hear us. We sat and talked to him about life, family, and work.
This man’s name was Latigue (La-teeg). He was a vodou priest who practiced black magic and had done horrible things within this ‘profession.' Through our conversation, we discovered that he has a wife and multiple children who are older and living away from home. There were two beautiful little girls on the porch with him. He told us that he had these two girls late in life, but they were in fact his daughters (3 and 5 years old). The daughter’s names were Lovely and Elizabeth.
The most striking aspect of this interaction was the extent of the poverty that this family was living in. The daughters were emaciated with discolored hair secondary to the malnutrition. Latigue was also very unhealthy due to malnutrition. As I witnessed this, my heart was strongly moved by the Holy Spirit. I asked Latigue what he was spending his money on, as most priests whom I know remain somewhat financially sustained due to their charging fees for magic, divination, etc.
Deception appears in unexpected ways
Latigue looked at the ground and, with great sadness in his voice, told me that his parents had died several years ago. They had been Catholic and, upon their death, their priest told Latigue that his parents were now in purgatory. (A primarily Catholic belief, purgatory is a place of suspension thought to exist between heaven and hell where people go when they die. This isn’t Biblical.) The Catholic priest went on to tell Latigue that his parents' souls were depending on him to pay the church so that he, the priest, could pray for their souls in order to bring them closer to heaven and shorten the time that they had to spend in purgatory.
Latigue had been successfully deceived by this and had therefore been paying the Catholic priest to expedite his parents' souls to heaven for years. As a result, his family was starving. The words that I would love to write right now about these kinds of occurrences within the Catholic church would be lengthy. But in short, many people are being deceived out of money, salvation, and heaven due to these beliefs; and this is unfortunate. Just remain in Scripture and deception of this magnitude will be avoided.
At this point, the discussion with Latigue had gone on for quite some time and he was getting tired. We asked him if he would agree to us coming back in a couple of days to share the gospel with him. He obliged and we scheduled the time to do this. As we were leaving, God placed a verse on my heart that I had to respond to.
“If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?”
I checked my wallet and noticed that I had 1000 gourdes (equivalent to 20 American dollars), so I gave it to Latigue and told him that Jesus had told me to give that to him. As he took the money, I saw his eyes begin to fill with tears. But he held them back, grabbed my hand with both of his and bowed his head as he said thank you. I reminded him to thank Jesus, which he then did.
A new creation
We came back, as scheduled, and sat and shared the gospel with him. Before we even began talking, it was very obvious to all of us (Jameson, our mission intern, Destine Mavoy, our translator, and myself), that this was a different man than we had met a few days before. The fact that he had been able to buy food and eat resulted in a man who was happy, more cognizant and aware, and stronger in voice, action and confidence. His two daughters and wife were also visibly happier.
The spirit of oppression and depression had been lifted from Latigue due to the ability to eat, as well as knowing that God loved him to the point of sending us to express His love to them. This is the power of unconditional, Christ-like love!
Over the course of our conversation we answered Latigue’s questions and told him the truth about demons and Satan. He sat very attentive, listening to every word that was read from the Bible. What followed is rare, but it does occur. Our team was blessed with the honor of seeing a man’s heart regenerated right in front of us. After hearing the gospel, Latigue told us that he wanted to know Jesus and live as a Christian. He wanted to give up vodou and be released from bondage to Satan.
Remove the iron rod
In response to this, he had pulled his ‘iron’ out of his yard. An iron is a literal iron rod that vodou priests and priestesses place in the ground on their property. They place it over an animal that they dismembered and buried. This ceremonial placement of the iron designates that the priest or priestess is in allegiance with Lucifer. Latigue’s removal of the iron was a very significant move that revealed his level of commitment to his new life in Christ.
He then repented of his past life in vodou and responded to the call of the Lord that was actively regenerating his heart. The man that now stood in front of us was a new creation in Christ, saved by grace and sealed with the Holy Spirit!
Since that day, which was 3 months ago, Latigue has come to services at our church, has been baptized, and has followed me to multiple initial meetings with vodou priests. In those meetings, he stands up without any prompting from me, and zealously shares his testimony. I have never doubted for a minute that this man is truly saved as the fragrance of Christ fills every setting that I see him in. He loves Jesus, he is a new creation, he is leading his family in Christ, and he has a great desire to learn/study Scripture.
The only issue is that he unfortunately can’t read. So Destine Mavoy has agreed to meet with him and teach him how to read. Destine was a teacher in Haiti for years before I met him. So please pray that God gives Latigue the gift of reading, and that his life is protected and provided for. We love Latigue, who has been turned from the darkness to the light, and is now a brother in Christ who we will get to spend eternity with! This is a man that you can’t help but love as his love for the Lord is infectious. This is what makes mission work the greatest honor in the world—Latigue is now saved!!