Children accused of witchcraft. Abandoned by their families out of fear and ignorance. Held prisoners in church compounds by pastors who abuse their authority and use brutal methods to exorcise the demons.
That’s the situation in many remote areas of the Democratic republic of Congo (formerly Zaire). In the September 2009 issue of Christianity Today, Isaac Phiri reported on this problem and the rescue efforts of Christian activists, such as World Vision and local pastors.
Some children are accused of witchcraft for birth defects and disabilities or parental neglect.
Some pastors have attempted exorcisms by placing the child’s hands in near-boiling water.
One pastor placed burning wood on children’s bodies to rid them of “bad spirits.”
Some pastors, pretending to engage in spiritual warfare and promising blessings upon desperate and ignorant adults, claim that certain children are the reason that their “spiritual weapons” appear not to work. (A key problem is a lack of training and accountability in these particular churches.)
Consider this, too:
One pastor has worked to reintegrate 33 abandoned children with their families.
Same pastor has used his radio addresses to discuss the problem, leading the way for other leaders to be trained in sound doctrine and urged to protect children as part of their ministry.
These leaders have intervened in over 800 cases of child abandonment and false charges against children.
I found Phiri’s article to be gripping: first, for the tragedy of having children being abused; second, for the passionate efforts of those determined to stop the abuse. It made me angry, sad and yet proud that my fellow Christians have risen up to protect the children of their country. They are turning their righteous anger into restorative action.
The things that made God angry ought to make a Christian angry. If I am truly an imitator Christ, then I must imitate his righteous anger against injustice and sin. This isn’t a toxic anger, which only leads to bitterness and cynicism; this is an anger that leads to action, to healing, to knowledge, to reconciliation.
That’s exactly what Christian leaders and World Vision are striving to do. Their efforts range from providing instruction on Biblical parenting, to working for better better training for pastors and exercise of Church authority and discipline, to reconciling children with their loving families, to loving on children who have been physically abused through misguided exorcism tactics.
The call is to allow Christ to use my righteous anger for His glory. No more standing by, twiddling my thumbs as someone is abused, by default condoning their behavior. So. What’s this mean in my life? Or yours?