When a witch doctor dies, the unexpected occurs.  

No chopping off of chicken heads and sprinkling blood in animistic ritual. No dangling dog teeth over corpses. No dark wizardry.

We have shared meals of live grub worms and cat soup with him. We have laughed with him and spoken truth into his life. We knew the man behind the spells.

We have rubbed shoulders with this witch doctor for years.

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His name was mister Deng, the father of one of our most faithful underground missionaries.

When his father got drunk after performing demonic rituals in their village, three times he chased his son with a machete screaming, “I’m going to kill you for your faith in Jesus!” But Brother Deng joined our local missionary convention and we all prayed for his father’s salvation together.

When his father got drunk after performing demonic rituals in their village, three times he chased his son with a machete screaming, “I’m going to kill you for your faith in Jesus!”

That’s Christian love in action. That’s the life transformation that is taking place on the mountains of China’s rural ethnic tribes. Love the sinner, hate the sin? Sure, you could say that. But it’s more about missional living regardless of what circumstances our local missionaries are placed in.

Soon after trying to kill his own son, mister Deng fell ill. Our local missionaries took the ten hour trek down to his village to share the gospel with him. They served him at his bedside, took care of his family, and made the message of salvation very clear to him. He was given ample opportunities to hear the name of Jesus, but only God knows what took place in his heart.

Soon after trying to kill his own son, mister Deng fell ill. Our local missionaries took the ten hour trek down to his village to share the gospel with him.

Mister Deng passed away on Thursday, April 11, 2013.

When a witch doctor dies, there are tears. Because witch doctor is just terminology for belief and occupation. Witch doctor is a title, like a plumber or a pastor, only with it comes connotations of incantations and demon worship. But there is a man behind the belief. His name was mister Deng, 57 years old, ethnic Yao, part time farmer, full time wizard, father to our faithful underground missionary.

Countless families in their tribal community had called on him when a child was struck with an inexplicable illness, or when the pigs were diseased, or when the crops would not grow. His job: elicit the ghost spirits, appeasing them with sacrifices and underworld spells.

Mister Deng had a strong distaste for Christians—most likely because the gospel stood in contrast to the spirit world he evoked. But God had his radar on Mister Deng’s family long before he became a witch doctor.

Mister Deng had a strong distaste for Christians—most likely because the gospel stood in contrast to the spirit world he evoked. But God had his radar on Mister Deng’s family long before he became a witch doctor.

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” – Psalm 50:10

God had a calling for his family despite his old covenant rituals and blood sacrifices. God wanted to use someone in his community to impact a whole unreached people group, and mister Deng was angry that God would use his son to bring salvation to his people.

When the witch doctor died, Within Reach Global local missionaries traveled 10 hours to his village to comfort the son he had tried to murder. Brother Deng cried as he shared the love of Jesus to his family and village alongside with our other local missionaries.  

Doors were opened and hearts were softened. “Isn’t this the son of mister Deng who ran from his father when he tried to kill him? Now he is here to honor his father, and talk about love and hope?” The community was astounded.

“Isn’t this the son of mister Deng who ran from his father when he tried to kill him? Now he is here to honor his father, and talk about love and hope?” The community was astounded.

We have been reaching this previously unengaged people groups for nearly ten years now. We have eaten in their homes, preached to hundreds, and seen many salvations. Now God is using this terrible situation to bring remedy to the dark region around Pilot outreach center.

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When a witch doctor dies, God’s Spirit floods the homes and villages with his presence, sending his missionaries to the scene.

When a witch doctor dies, God’s Spirit floods the homes and villages with his presence, sending his missionaries to the scene.

Please pray for comfort for Brother Deng and his family. Though his father tried to kill him three times, he is extending Christian care for his family. Please also pray that his testimony of forgiveness and peace would bring salvation to this dry and weary people group.

 

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David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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