Standing outside my house with my guard under the African sky cloaked in stars, the sounds of shouting, yelling, and the beating of drums and jerrycans drifted through the night air. I had been filled with curiosity when I heard the commotion, and stepped out to see if Enoch could explain what was going on. He said that the people were shouting and beating whatever objects they could in order to scare away evil spirits. The story passed down through the generations is that when someone sees an evil spirit, they must begin shouting and making noise in order to keep that spirit from entering their house and causing harm to them or their family. The spirit will flee from the noise, and enter into the house where it is quiet, unless those people also hear the noise and take up the alarm. In that way, the alarm spreads to the whole surrounding area as people try to protect their houses and families from the evil spirits.
I know that to western minds, the idea is absurd. And even to my mind, it’s incredible that entire communities would be held captive to such fear. If the statistics are to be believed, than a huge 85% of the population of Uganda is Christian. That includes every denomination both Protestant and Catholic, and those many churches: Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentacostal, 7th day Adventist, Catholic, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses, all have their followings here. Honestly, it is a bit unusual to find someone who doesn’t go to a church service, mass, or mosque at least once a week. Though for all the religiosity shown, events like these just demonstrate the real absence of the true gospel in Uganda. From that 85%, very few truly understand and believe in the gift of salvation from sin through faith alone in God the Son, Jesus Christ. And of those that claim to believe, even less are knowledgeable about the Word. Because of their ignorance, you will find even those who sit in church every week beating their pot or jerrycan or drum right alongside those that have never gone to church. The spirit of fear that has been passed down from generation to generation still holds them captive.
As I stood next to Enoch, I asked him if he was afraid.
He simply said, ‘No.’
‘Why?’ I asked.
‘Because I think Jesus can be more powerful than those devils.’
Such a simple answer. But such a powerful truth. Jesus is greater, stronger, and more powerful than any demon. And the weight of that truth is what has set Enoch free from the power of fear that is holding his neighbors captive. No longer does he have to stay awake late into the night, shouting out loud until his voice hurts. Beating his pot until his hands ache. Hoping and fearing lest the demon comes back and destroys what is dear to him. He knows he is safe, resting quietly in the hands of Jesus who will watch over him and guard him from the power of Satan.
So in the dark of night, with the chaos of fear echoing just in the next neighborhood, Enoch and I stood and talked about Jesus. Discussing and proclaiming the truth about who He was and who He is to us now. It was such an incredible contrast, and such a beautiful reminder of why I’m here: To preach Jesus, who was dead but is alive. To proclaim freedom to those who are dead but can be alive. And to do my best to raise these children up in the fear and knowledge of the Lord which will set them free from the fear of everything else.