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Children Denounced As “Witches” By Christian Pastors


Kato Mivule, who was born and raised in Uganda, has been reporting on similar stories for some time at Yesu Mulungi (African-Christian Perspectives).

The story below comes via the Huffington Post:

EKET, Nigeria — The nine-year-old boy lay on a bloodstained hospital sheet crawling with ants, staring blindly at the wall.

His family pastor had accused him of being a witch, and his father then tried to force acid down his throat as an exorcism. It spilled as he struggled, burning away his face and eyes. The emaciated boy barely had strength left to whisper the name of the church that had denounced him – Mount Zion Lighthouse.

A month later, he died.

Nwanaokwo Edet was one of an increasing number of children in Africa accused of witchcraft by pastors and then tortured or killed, often by family members. Pastors were involved in half of 200 cases of “witch children” reviewed by the AP, and 13 churches were named in the case files.

Some of the churches involved are renegade local branches of international franchises. Their parishioners take literally the Biblical exhortation, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

“It is an outrage what they are allowing to take place in the name of Christianity,” said Gary Foxcroft, head of nonprofit Stepping Stones Nigeria.

For their part, the families are often extremely poor, and sometimes even relieved to have one less mouth to feed. Poverty, conflict and poor education lay the foundation for accusations, which are then triggered by the death of a relative, the loss of a job or the denunciation of a pastor on the make, said Martin Dawes, a spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund.

“When communities come under pressure, they look for scapegoats,” he said. “It plays into traditional beliefs that someone is responsible for a negative change … and children are defenseless.”

The idea of witchcraft is hardly new, but it has taken on new life recently partly because of a rapid growth in evangelical Christianity.

Campaigners against the practice say around 15,000 children have been accused in two of Nigeria’s 36 states over the past decade and around 1,000 have been murdered. In the past month alone, three Nigerian children accused of witchcraft were killed and another three were set on fire.

Nigeria is one of the heartlands of abuse, but hardly the only one: the United Nations Children’s Fund says tens of thousands of children have been targeted throughout Africa.

Church signs sprout around every twist of the road snaking through the jungle between Uyo, the capital of the southern Akwa Ibom state where Nwanaokwo lay, and Eket, home to many more rejected “witch children.” Churches outnumber schools, clinics and banks put together. Many promise to solve parishioner’s material worries as well as spiritual ones – eight out of ten Nigerians struggle by on less than $2 a day.

  • “Poverty must catch fire,” insists the Born 2 Rule Crusade on one of Uyo’s main streets.
  • “Where little shots become big shots in a short time,” promises the Winner’s Chapel down the road.
  • “Pray your way to riches,” advises Embassy of Christ a few blocks away.

It’s hard for churches to carve out a congregation with so much competition. So some pastors establish their credentials by accusing children of witchcraft.

Nwanaokwo said he knew the pastor who accused him only as Pastor King. Mount Zion Lighthouse in Nigeria at first confirmed that a Pastor King worked for them, then denied that they knew any such person.

Bishop A.D. Ayakndue, the head of the church in Nigeria, said pastors were encouraged to pray about witchcraft, but not to abuse children.

“We pray over that problem (of witchcraft) very powerfully,” he said. “But we can never hurt a child.”

The Nigerian church is a branch of a Californian church by the same name. But the California church says it lost touch with its Nigerian offshoots several years ago.

“I had no idea,” said church elder Carrie King by phone from Tracy, Calif. “I knew people believed in witchcraft over there but we believe in the power of prayer, not physically harming people.”

The Mount Zion Lighthouse – also named by three other families as the accuser of their children – is part of the powerful *Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. The Fellowship’s president, Ayo Oritsejafor, said the Fellowship was the fastest-growing religious group in Nigeria, with more than 30 million members.

“We have grown so much in the past few years we cannot keep an eye on everybody,” he explained.

But Foxcroft, the head of Stepping Stones, said if the organization was able to collect membership fees, it could also police its members better. He had already written to the organization twice to alert it to the abuse, he said. He suggested the fellowship ask members to sign forms denouncing abuse or hold meetings to educate pastors about the new child rights law in the state of Akwa Ibom, which makes it illegal to denounce children as witches. Similar laws and education were needed in other states, he said.

Sam Itauma of the Children’s Rights and Rehabilitation Network said it is the most vulnerable children – the orphaned, sick, disabled or poor – who are most often denounced. In Nwanaokwo’s case, his poor father and dead mother made him an easy target.

“Even churches who didn’t use to ‘find’ child witches are being forced into it by the competition,” said Itauma. “They are seen as spiritually powerful because they can detect witchcraft and the parents may even pay them money for an exorcism.”

That’s what Margaret Eyekang did when her 8-year-old daughter Abigail was accused by a “prophet” from the Apostolic Church, because the girl liked to sleep outside on hot nights – interpreted as meaning she might be flying off to join a coven. A series of exorcisms cost Eyekang eight months’ wages, or US$270. The payments bankrupted her.

Neighbors also attacked her daughter.

“They beat her with sticks and asked me why I was bringing them a witch child,” she said. A relative offered Eyekang floor space but Abigail was not welcome and had to sleep in the streets.

Members of two other families said pastors from the Apostolic Church had accused their children of witchcraft, but asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.

The Nigeria Apostolic Church refused repeated requests made by phone, e-mail and in person for comment.

______

At first glance, there’s nothing unusual about the laughing, grubby kids playing hopscotch or reading from a tattered Dick and Jane book by the graffiti-scrawled cinderblock house. But this is where children like Abigail end up after being labeled witches by churches and abandoned or tortured by their families.

There’s a scar above Jane’s shy smile: her mother tried to saw off the top of her skull after a pastor denounced her and repeated exorcisms costing a total of $60 didn’t cure her of witchcraft. Mary, 15, is just beginning to think about boys and how they will look at the scar tissue on her face caused when her mother doused her in caustic soda. Twelve-year-old Rachel dreamed of being a banker but instead was chained up by her pastor, starved and beaten with sticks repeatedly; her uncle paid him $60 for the exorcism.

Israel’s cousin tried to bury him alive, Nwaekwa’s father drove a nail through her head, and sweet-tempered Jerry – all knees, elbows and toothy grin – was beaten by his pastor, starved, made to eat cement and then set on fire by his father as his pastor’s wife cheered it on.

The children at the home run by Itauma’s organization have been mutilated as casually as the praying mantises they play with. Home officials asked for the children’s last names not to be used to protect them from retaliation…

  • Please read the rest HERE

*You may recall a story concerning Benny Hinn and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, from back a few years ago: Pastor Hinn in Nigerian money row.

Related:

Uganda False Teaching Cult Awareness Report 2009

A Cursed Generation of Nigerian Pastors: Are they Ripe for Judgment?

New Age Secular Humanism Invades Uganda and Africa

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10 comments on “Children Denounced As “Witches” By Christian Pastors

  1. wow.. that is soo horrible

  2. I have seen the Stepping Stones video. Just one correction is needed to your header. These are not ‘Christian’ pastors, they are themselves practitioners of witchcraft.

  3. For me, from where I am coming from, and having been to Nigeria numerous times, even Eket, the issue falls squarely upon the “True Church” to accept the Faith Once delivered to the Saints and enter into a local uprising against the unseen forces behind this foolishness, worldwide.

    An American politician said something that has value for the Church when it comes to wisdom. He said, “all” politics is local.

    Any work of Grace will be done in the “local” community where the Church is suppose to thrive.

    It does not matter where the story originates because God is Omnipresent.

    Here is the Biblical mandate for “all” Local Pastorates:::>

    Eph 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
    Eph 3:9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,
    Eph 3:10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
    Eph 3:11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
    Eph 3:12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

    Note deeply and well the “local work of the Local Church in this broadest of brush strokes on the canvas of the world community the Church is called to thrive in?

    “….so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places….”.

    This is now my earnest and daily prayer:::>

    Eph 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
    Eph 3:15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
    Eph 3:16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
    Eph 3:17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
    Eph 3:18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
    Eph 3:19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
    Eph 3:20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
    Eph 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

  4. LORD HAVE MERCY ON THESE INNOCENT CHILDREN.

    • Amen…

      There’s a further report on this HERE, BUT WE WARNED, there is a photograph which is shocking.

      I was reading at Barth Notes blog, and agree with his sentiments;

      isn’t it time some of the A-list neo-Pentecostal revivalists from the west who enjoy influence in Africa – such as Benny Hinn and Reinhard Bonnke – also speak out?

      He’s right, some of the big American prosperity preachers from America, have been making trips into the area for years…holding crusades and spreading their damnable doctrines.

  5. “isn’t it time some of the A-list neo-Pentecostal revivalists from the west who enjoy influence in Africa – such as Benny Hinn and Reinhard Bonnke – also speak out?”

    The problem with that is, because they are white these abusers will pay no attention to them, as they did with Gary Foxcroft who, by the way, is not a Christian. It needs Nigerian pastors of stature to address the situation backed up by the forces of law and order. But bear in mind the abusers are only masquerading as church leaders.

  6. I have to respond by saying that this is not
    Christianity. This not an opinion but a fact
    God has really sparked a fire over the months
    because I want to know what the truth is, and
    I am one of the lucky ones that got out of shall
    I say this demonic behemoth that calls itself
    the Church. I hope that after seeing the fruit that
    these ministries have done we can know for
    certain that this is very wrong, and to persist in
    the delusion that everything is ok, and that this
    kind of stuff is ok… well Paul has a word for that
    in his letter to the Galatians Anathema.
    It is only a matter of time that we The Church are
    going to face some persecution because of what
    theses guys from Benny Hinn on down are preaching.
    Dose any one know what sound doctrine is anymore
    besides the wonderful people here, and those that
    have labored hard to bring these articles to us. I hope
    Thank the Lord that there is a voice of reason and
    hope in these last days and thank you PJ God bless
    you.

    • Mark you’re right, its not Christianity.

      To be frank, i don’t know what it is….

      A mixture of ignorance of the bible and superstition? Maybe.

  7. Sarah Palin’s witch-hunting pastor immediately comes to mind …

  8. Dear Friends,

    Please stand up for the rights of children by taking part in our Blog Day, Wednesday December 14th, in support of the Prevent Abuse of Children Today (PACT) campaign.

    We know that you have already blogged in support of child rights and Stepping Stones Nigeria. We’re so grateful for this and hope that you will support us again by joining in with our Blog Day.

    Prevent Abuse of Children Today (PACT) is a global campaign set up by the UK-based child rights charity Stepping Stones Nigeria and our Nigerian partner organisations. PACT aims to bring long-term positive social change to vulnerable children in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, particularly those at risk of witchcraft accusations, abuse and trafficking.

    To help spread the word about the PACT campaign we wanted to invite some of our favourite bloggers to blog about your happiest childhood memory or best experience with children. We’d love for you to blog about this specifically in response to the following statement:

    ‘Every child has the right to happiness’

    We want to celebrate children by focusing on our positive experiences of being a child or being around children. After all, every child deserves to have those happy experiences and that is what we’re fighting for through PACT.
    If you are interested we would love you to take part in our Blog Day. To do so please do the following:

    1. Write your blog post on December 14th

    2. At the end of your post please add this statement:
    “This post is part of a series inspired by the Prevent Abuse of Children Today (PACT) campaign, hosted by Stepping Stones Nigeria. Please add your name to the PACT petition to prevent abuse of innocent children in the Niger Delta and visit the site to find out more: http://www.makeapact.org

    3. If you want to take part please leave a comment on this blog post or drop us an email.

    4. Please ask others to get involved!

    The Blog Day badge is available to add to your post today. Please email me to receive this.

    Let us know when you post and we’ll feature it on the PACT site and facebook.

    Thanks for taking the time to learn about PACT and happy blogging!

    Kind Regards,

    Carmel

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