Demon possession and curses. Not things you hear of everyday back in the US, but it is among our people. The Cham aren’t the most religious of muslims. There is still spirit worship and putting curses on people, the women don’t wear the full hijab, and them men run off with other women all the time.
Niya is a Cham girl, last year’s student missionaries became good friends with. She’s maybe 16 years old and has come to church several times. At one point she was working at the clinic but now she is off trying to work in Phnom Penh.
On her most recent trip back to the village, she came to my house looking for the Churches. Luckily for her, they were here for Monday clinic and everyone got to say hi and talk a while. After the first mad rush of talking, Boaz and his daughter sat down with Niya and Niya started telling about her most recent struggles. She was depressed, suicidal from periodic demon possession, and was fighting with her boyfriend who is a control freak. When she is possessed, she has climbed up on roofs and swam way out into the ocean where the demon tried to drown her.
I have often wished I had Boaz’s gift of theraputic communication. He is an excellent listener and knows enough Khmer to really be able to meet any needs the people have. He pulled down our last precious Cham Bible and gave it to her and helped her underline verses for encouragement and strength.
Later that week, I had to go to town to get an xray of my foot to make sure nothing was broken, and on the way back Boaz dropped in at the Kiwi’s house to ask Mr. Kiwi if he would come to Niya’s house to pray with her about the demon possession. After Boaz’s son and Mr. Kiwi’s son finished an intense game of soccer, we all headed over to the house.
Niya’s grandmother met us at the door as we took off our shoes, and we were ushered into the main room where two men, a young woman, Niya, and the grandmother were relaxing. Boaz asked the grandmother what was going on and the grandmother started telling how a few day’s before Niya was not feeling good and threw up a nail. Over the course of the day she threw up several more nails ranging in sizes from 1/2 inch to almost 2 inches. Grandma got up, pulled an empty water bottle off the shelf, and handed it to Boaz. Inside were maybe 6 nails just like they had described. The Cham beleive you can put a curse on someone and they will throw up nails. Generally revenge is planned to curse the other person back, and the grandma had been encouraging Niya to do so.
Boaz started talking about God’s love for us and how He has power over Satan and all his forces. Verse after verse was read by Boaz and Mr. Kiwi, and the miraculous thing was that the family was very open to this. There has been AFM missionaries in this village for almost 20 years and we have only 2 baptized Cham. Most of the time they aren’t interested because Isalm is their culture. Converting to Christianity can mean being ostracized, made fun of, and not being able to find work. But doors are opening slowly but surely. We hoped Niya write down where to find verses and we had prayer for her before leaving, taking the bottle of nails to go bury out in the woods somewhere.
Boaz and his middle son stopped back by the house several days later because Niya had a cold, and when they walked in the door, they saw one of the uncles reading the Cham Bible. He put it away quickly of course, but they were able to have a good conversation about the story of Joseph that the Muslim’s are taught versus the story in the Bible. We are hopeful that we might be able to start visiting more often and discussing Bible stories with them and that Niya will become free of Satan’s possession and can start healing.
Keep praying for us. We are expanding to other villages in hopes of finding more believers. There are not enough workers here and we will be short staffed until the Robert’s arrive in the summer and another missionary couple will hopefully be arriving next fall. But we don’t have the time to wait for backup. We need to work now while our short window of opportunity is still open. The government is becoming increasingly anti-american and this next year is election year. So pray for us while we can work, and start thinking about the possibility of God sending you somewhere to serve.