I remember the first time that I ever encountered a witchdoctor in Guatemala. I was terrified of him. He was in a cemetery chanting to demons (and God) on behalf of a suffering girl. He blew-up cans of beans in a fire, he spit alcohol on the back of the girl’s neck, he rubbed an egg on her head, and did many other things that I was not accustom to. I just sat there and watched – frozen in fear.
What could I do? Should I say anything? These witchdoctors were intimidating to say the least and watching them put this girl through this humbling process was heart breaking. I just sat there in disbelief for about an hour and walked away in fear. It is still one of my big regrets.
Last summer, I found myself at that same cemetery watching a witchdoctor performing witchcraft over a suffering woman. This time, I was determined to not let my fears get the best of me. After the woman was chanted over we literally chased her down a path in a cemetary. She said that she was late for something, but her ‘hurried behavior’ quickly went away when she heard the compassion in our voices. In the matter of seconds, her whole contenance changed. In desperation she asked us to pray for a skin problem that she had. Then as we were getting ready to go she urgently asked us to pray for her brother too. Our prayer time felt raw and real. Her eyes got watery as we prayed in deep faith that God would move in her life and her brother’s life. I conquered a fear that day, but reaching out to the witchdoctors would be a different story.
Later that day, I went back to the cemetery and just sat there watching a witchdoctor chant in front of a fire. I had no translator with me at the time, but I began to wonder what would happened if I just joined him. What would happened if I just went up and prayed for him out loud to Jesus while he was “praying” out loud to demons. As I placed my hand on his shoulder I prayed for him to find truth. He had no idea what I was saying and I had no idea what he was saying. According to this picture someone took, it actually appears that maybe he stopped chanting. It was one of the most bizarre and beautiful prayer “times” that I have ever had. My fear quickly vanished of these people while I was praying for him. It was a day that I allowed my trust in God to trump my fear of a people that I had become so intimidated by.
Intimidation sucks the life out of your God-given potential. Iv’e learned that the hard way numerous times. Even a few days after that moment in the cemetery, I missed opportunities because of fear. I have probably missed more opportunities than I have seized, because of my fear of people. And I hope to one day tip the balance the other way. May we as followers of Christ not let our fear of others keep us from stepping out boldly for Him. The love and truth that He has given us is for all to see and know and therefore the risks are always worth it.
Caleb Bislow the author of Dangerous and founder of Unusual Soldiers..