Fama, which means “power” in the local language, is a town located in southern Mali, West Africa. Pastor Thomas serves with The Alliance in this farming community of 5,000, infamous for its history of witchcraft practices involving powerful fetishes and idols.
Recently, Pastor Thomas told an Alliance international worker the story of Joseph*, who was raised in a family engaged in fetish practices. He is one of the first young men in Fama who chose to follow Christ.
Joseph’s decision to turn from his family’s religious practices had serious consequences. “Honor and shame figure prominently in any major decision here, and it is common for Jesus followers to be completely ostracized, excommunicated if you will,” wrote Dr. Dan Nesselroade in his Alliance Life article “A Power All Its Own.” Dr. Dan served in Mali for a number of years.
When Joseph’s brothers and his father learned of his new faith, they beat him. The father also threatened to physically harm Pastor Thomas.
Several weeks after this threat was posed, Pastor Thomas saw Joseph’s father in town and approached him. “Are you my son’s new teacher?” the father asked. “I have a problem with you.”
“Is your son in trouble?” the pastor responded. “Is he doing bad things? Is he stealing or being promiscuous?”
“No,” the father said.
“Then he is on a good path,” the pastor replied. “You should allow him to continue.”
Your Power Is Greater
After this encounter, Joseph’s father and brothers attempted to place curses on Pastor Thomas and his family. None of them succeeded.
In response to the attempts at intimidation, the pastor sent his children to Joseph’s father’s home with a gift of sweet potatoes from his new crop.
“How can we fight against you?” the father responded, accepting the gift. “You do good to us even when we try to do you harm. Surely your power is greater than ours.”
In the last six months, 30 townspeople have come to faith in Jesus.
As believers gather worldwide to intercede on November 13, 2016, the second of two International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, remember those in West Africa, who often are ostracized by their families, endure beatings, and are subjected to local sorcerers’ curses.
Check out more ideas about how to pray for the persecuted Church.