Posted in Africa African Traditional Religion Christian Missions

Do You Believe in Magic? (Part 1/3)

When I ask the question, “Do you believe in magic?”, if you are like me, what comes to mind is either Disney or that one song by the Lovin’ Spoonful. But magic (or witchcraft/sorcery/juju) has a much different meaning to many people here in Cameroon. Here are some recent examples I have heard of: People will go to shamans (French: marabout, Kwakum: kaah, Anglophone Cameroon: ngambe man) for protection, or to have curses put on their enemies. So, at many funerals a special ritual is performed to determine who put a curse on the person that died. Also at funerals,…

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Posted in Africa African Traditional Religion Poverty Prosperity Theology

Animism and Corruption

Most people that live around us live in constant uncertainty. They work hard: clear their fields, plant crops, frequently go out as the crop grows to clear the weeds, and hope for a good harvest. However, they never know if their crop will fail due to out of control fires, rodents, torrential rains, thieves, or for no discernable reason in particular. It is crushing when they come to us at a loss, all their efforts and money spent, with nothing in return. So, many turn to witchcraft. They speak to a “witch doctor” and figure out what sort of offering…

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Posted in Africa African Traditional Religion Encouragements and Exhortations

Do you really believe in demons?

Moving to Africa has plunged us into a radically different environment. I joke with Stacey that we would be prime candidates for the voyage to Mars, having already journeyed to a new world. I can stand next to a neighbor, see with fully functioning eyes the exact same event, and walk away with a drastically different impression. This reality was vividly demonstrated a couple weeks ago when we endured a ferocious storm here in the village. People’s roofs were ripped off and flung into the surrounding forest. Lightning was striking all around us and the thunder was terrifying. Both Stacey…

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Posted in Africa African Traditional Religion Poverty

Vain Generosity

I wrote a few months ago A Case for Generosity in which I made the claim: “Being generous is so close to being loved that for the average Kwakum, they are indistinguishable.” My conclusion to this blog post was that, as Christians, when considering all of the variables for giving, we should make generosity a priority. I used in this argument a case study of a little boy named Patrick who was born with hydrocephalus. His family asked me to help get him a surgery and we decided to give. We found that our giving in this case conveyed great…

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Posted in African Traditional Religion

African Traditional Religion Keeps Them Poor

Missionaries are generally disliked by the secular linguistics/anthropology community. Why? Because missionaries do not come to the field as neutral observers, but with a desire to see change. Missionary linguists do not come to merely preserve and describe languages, but to see the Bible translated and then confront the culture. And Dave and I desperately want to see the Bakoum culture confronted and changed.  Do not get me wrong, there are aspects of Bakoum/Cameroonian culture that I love and miss. I love the brightly colored cloth custom made into form-fitting, eccentric dresses. I love walking down the street and seeing…

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