Adventist Frontier Missions

Spiritual Battles In the Birthplace of Voodoo

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: James Arkuzinsky (Host)


Series Code: AFM

Program Code: AFM000016

00:56 Hi, I'm James Arkuzinsky, communication director
00:58 for Adventist Frontier Missions.
01:01 AFM sends missionaries
01:02 to some of the most difficult places in the world
01:05 to reach unreached people
01:06 with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
01:09 We are commissioned to take the good news to every nation,
01:12 every tribe, and every people.
01:14 The story you are going to witness today is one that
01:17 outlines the struggles of one missionary family
01:20 as they witness to an unreached people group
01:22 saturated with Muslim ideals
01:24 and mixed with animistic values such as Voodoo.
01:28 Their unwavering trust in God
01:29 through the most difficult trials
01:31 has won the respect in hearts of the Dendi people
01:34 that they were sent out to reach.
01:36 Michee and Elmire Bade as well as their two children
01:39 are serving as missionaries
01:40 with Adventist Frontier Missions.
01:42 Michee was a pastor in his home country of Ivory Coast
01:45 before being called of God to serve the Dendi people
01:48 in the country of Benin.
01:50 Early on in their service they discovered
01:52 the absolute necessity of frequent and earnest prayer
01:55 for they realized
01:56 they were not fighting against earthly powers.
01:59 As Ephesians 6:12 states
02:02 they were fighting against principalities
02:04 and rulers of darkness in spiritual places.
02:09 This led Michee to pray not just three times a day
02:11 as did Daniel
02:13 or five times a day as the Muslims
02:15 in his city are doing but seven times a day.
02:18 Whether there was a simple as culture shock
02:20 or his extremist physical and spiritual attack
02:23 with God walking by his side
02:26 Michee and his family turned each trial into victory.
02:32 Today's story begins with the Bade's arriving
02:34 in Benin in 2006
02:36 preparing for their journey across the country
02:38 to the city of Natitingoa.
02:40 Their journey was not
02:41 what they were expecting however.
02:43 Even a simple taxi ride
02:45 turned into an extreme travel experience.
02:48 So from Cotonou we decided to go to Natitingoa
02:52 and pay a visit to our missionary colleagues,
02:55 Suzy and Uli
02:56 who have been in Benin for almost 10 to 12 years.
03:01 By December 24, we decided to move to Kandi.
03:04 That was almost Christmas.
03:07 And many people were not traveling
03:09 so we waited almost two hours at the station.
03:13 And we entered a nine-seat, eight-seat taxi.
03:17 We thought that the number of seats was--
03:21 the number of people to expect.
03:23 We didn't know that in Benin that was not the case.
03:27 So that's how the extreme travel started.
03:30 So a few hours after, the driver had more passengers,
03:37 and we began the trip.
03:41 It was on dirt road almost seven hours
03:45 going up north of Benin of Natitingoa.
03:51 And when we got to Kandi, we were so tired, dusty,
03:56 and we were in pain.
03:58 It was really difficult, that trip to Kandi.
04:04 Discomfort was only the beginning of their battle.
04:06 Dark spiritual forces considered the missionaries
04:09 a threat to their territory
04:10 and were always looking for opportunities
04:12 to attack God's servants.
04:15 Michee had yet to realize the seriousness of this threat.
04:19 Just after two weeks in Kandi,
04:24 the only way for us to get information
04:27 was to listen to the radio.
04:28 So I turned on my radio and was listening to the radio.
04:33 And I heard some challenging comments
04:36 about former Christians and former Muslims,
04:39 and also heard some voodoo priests making comments
04:42 that they can reproduce all the miracles
04:46 our Lord Jesus Christ did.
04:48 So I made some funny and smart comments.
04:52 I had no idea that voodoo spirits
04:56 will hear what I said in the privacy of our home.
04:59 They didn't like my comment.
05:01 So after what I said,
05:03 I was going to share with Elmire in the kitchen
05:06 what I heard on the radio
05:08 about what people had been doing.
05:10 And Eliora came and wanted to with me
05:13 so she held me by the hand, and we were walking
05:18 and a few minutes earlier,
05:20 the mother had just removed some
05:23 boiling water from the fire.
05:27 So the pot well parked,
05:30 carefully parked in a corner of the house.
05:33 And I was walking with Eliora
05:35 and I didn't know all of a sudden
05:37 I felt a strange power pulling my daughter's leg.
05:41 And before I knew,
05:43 her right leg just went straight into that water
05:48 and my daughter was screaming.
05:49 She was scalded, and I was scared.
05:52 And Elmire ran into the house.
05:55 She swathe skin that was off, and I knew something
06:01 foreign was really creating that scenario.
06:08 So before we rushed her to the hospital we prayed,
06:11 and I knew that a battle was already on.
06:16 And I knew we were to be careful with any comments
06:19 we make about voodoo spirits
06:21 and any festival about the voodoo religion in Benin,
06:27 the new country where we are in.
06:29 Voodoo spirits are nothing to be taken lightly
06:32 yet God mercifully intervened to save Michee's daughter
06:35 from further harm.
06:36 This experience led Michee to take his spiritual time
06:39 with God more seriously.
06:41 Now the battle was about to intensify.
06:44 Satan uses every means at his disposal
06:46 to hinder God's word and discourage His people.
06:49 At this time Michee was working hard
06:50 to reach the Dendi people by meeting with Muslim Imam's
06:53 to create an understanding
06:55 of religious tolerance in the city.
06:57 In the interest of learning more about Muslim culture
07:00 he decided to attend a Muslim festival
07:02 and photograph the event.
07:04 Not everyone was pleased.
07:22 After seven months in Benin,
07:26 I decided to attend the Ramadan festival.
07:30 Our Muslims brothers have fasted for 30 days
07:35 and they had a big prayer to end off the Ramadan.
07:40 And they also have a place where they go for that prayer
07:43 for the Ramadan fasting to be over.
07:48 So I decided to go with my neighbors
07:52 who asked me to help them with transportation.
07:55 So about 15 of them they loaded my truck
08:00 inside and outside and we left, and I had my camera.
08:06 I was taking pictures and making courage
08:09 when we go to the site.
08:11 Close to 5,000 people were at that prayer ground,
08:15 and because Muslims pray divided,
08:20 the women at the back and the men in front,
08:24 so we parked behind a women but I was with my friends,
08:28 almost 10 men
08:31 and we had to pass close to the women's side.
08:33 And a Shiite woman dressed in black
08:37 who hated me in town saw me coming
08:40 and started spreading rumors
08:43 that I have come to defile their prayer ground.
08:48 That I am a Christian why I am here with a camera?
08:52 Why am I taking pictures?
08:53 And she said I was too close to the women's side.
08:57 And before I knew, there was a big riot going on,
09:01 and those that came with me
09:03 were trying to reason her that I am their guest
09:06 and I have the permission to be there
09:09 from the head imam.
09:11 But before I knew, there were big fighting, arguing,
09:17 and Nasiru, my friend advised me that
09:22 it was getting too hot that somebody might be hurt.
09:26 They advised me to leave.
09:28 So I quickly packed my things and ran towards my truck
09:34 and headed back to home.
09:37 Persecution is not limited just to God's messengers.
09:40 Those who support God's workers
09:42 often come under attack as well.
09:45 Michee was thankful that Nasiru intervened
09:47 during the festival
09:48 but it made Nasiru the target of Satan's next assault.
09:52 So the first person to be hurt was Nasiru, my friend,
09:56 who defended me during the Ramadan crises.
09:59 And he woke up in the morning
10:02 and was feeling some sore on his right leg, some pain.
10:07 He went to the hospital and saw a medical doctor.
10:11 And the doctor, after some consultation
10:14 didn't see anything medically wrong.
10:17 He even did some injections,
10:19 and he told him there is nothing we can do for you.
10:23 So Nasiru left disappointed and with some of his relatives,
10:28 they decided to go to a witchdoctor.
10:35 And the witch doctor, after some incantations,
10:41 consulted with some spirit and the spirit revealed
10:44 that he was bitten by a spiritual snake.
10:49 Unfortunately,
10:50 after removing 14 teeth Nasiru didn't feel better.
10:54 So his pain went worse.
10:58 He barely went back home on his own.
11:02 He has to be held by his parents.
11:05 And I learned some few days
11:08 when I returned from my trip in Ouagadougou
11:10 that my friend Nasiru was really in severe pain.
11:14 I went to Nasiru, it was on Friday after vesper.
11:17 I said, "God, this is the Sabbath hours,
11:20 and Sabbath is made for man.
11:22 I'm going to pray for Nasiru
11:25 and I want You to make him accept
11:27 that I will pray for him."
11:29 So when go to Nasiru,
11:30 I could read he was in the courtyard
11:34 and his family members around him.
11:37 He was really in pain on his mat
11:40 with a bandage on his leg.
11:41 And when his parents saw me coming
11:44 they had a very dirty look at me because for them,
11:47 I was responsible for his misery, his pain.
11:51 So some of them left
11:53 because they didn't want me to be there.
11:55 And I just told Nasiru,
11:57 I just heard what is happening to him,
11:59 and I'm very sorry.
12:01 And I offered him money to go and see another doctor.
12:04 And I also told him that
12:06 I could pray for him if he wishes.
12:08 And to my surprise, Nasiru rejected the money
12:11 and said I should just pray for him.
12:13 And I quickly praised God in my heart
12:17 and put my left hand on his leg
12:20 and started praying
12:21 and claiming the promises of the Sabbath
12:24 that the Sabbath is made to refresh, to restore,
12:28 that God should show Nasiru and his family
12:31 that He really sent me to them
12:34 and He should make a miracle for Nasiru to be well.
12:37 And I left and went home
12:38 and I shared the experience with Elmire,
12:41 and we prayed for him again.
12:43 And to my surprise, early Saturday afternoon,
12:48 maybe by noon somebody knocked at my door.
12:51 When I opened here was Nasiru walking.
12:53 And I was surprised.
12:55 I told him, "How are you feeling?"
12:57 He said, "Better. Your prayer worked."
12:59 I aid, "Praise God!"
13:00 And I was so amazed.
13:03 I was thankful and I praised God
13:05 and Nasiru was very impressed that the prayer worked
13:10 so quick and so fast.
13:11 And he told me, "I will be with you again.
13:14 I will escort you again,
13:17 and I'm not afraid of any spiritual attack."
13:19 So that was very encouraging and we praised God together.
13:24 God does answer the prayers of His people.
13:27 He turned every attack Satan had thrown
13:28 at Michee's family and friends into a blessing.
13:31 Yet the spiritual attacks continued
13:34 and Satan redoubled his efforts and preparation
13:36 for a decisive confrontation.
13:39 One of the things we also learned
13:42 under the spiritual attack was that even our accusers
13:46 could manipulate the bandits.
13:48 That will sound crazy,
13:49 but that's almost what happened.
13:54 It was seven.
13:55 We were only three hours from Kandi,
13:58 and after taking some gas Elmire suggested
14:01 that we should sleep in Parakou.
14:05 And I refused because I wanted to reach at Kandi that night
14:09 and rest at once.
14:11 And we decided to drive to Kandi that night.
14:17 Just 30 minutes after,
14:19 I saw a roadblock and I saw people moving around
14:24 many cars that were parked.
14:26 And they were not policemen,
14:27 so we knew they were armed robbers.
14:30 So when I noticed that they saw that we stopped
14:34 and we were looking at them I started reversing the truck,
14:39 and they were running after us and shooting at us,
14:43 but we fell into a ditch.
14:46 And the bandits surrounded us,
14:47 and they were mad at us because we tried to escape.
14:52 We'll be right back with our program in just a moment
14:55 but first we would like to give you some insight
14:57 into the country of Benin and the Dendi culture.
15:00 The Republic of Benin the West African country
15:04 roughly the size of Pennsylvania
15:06 is boarded by Togo, Burkina Faso, Nigeria,
15:11 Niger and the Atlantic Ocean.
15:13 Once the seat of the powerful Dahomey kingdom,
15:15 Benin became a French colony in 1900
15:18 and gained independence in 1960 subsequently
15:21 becoming the first African country
15:23 to successfully transition from a dictatorship
15:26 to a pluralistic political system.
15:29 Today the population is roughly 9.8 million
15:32 and French is the official language.
15:36 The Dendi people are located in the northern most region
15:38 of the country,
15:39 mainly in the lush plains of the Niger River.
15:42 Some of the Dendi live in the high grass areas
15:44 bordering the Sahara Desert but there is little water
15:47 and sparse vegetation.
15:50 Sizable communities can also be found in nearby countries.
15:53 Today, many Dendi live in
15:54 rectangular mud brick houses with corrugated tinned roofs.
16:00 Farming is considered noble labor among the Dendi
16:03 and is for men only.
16:04 Men are often employed to ten commercial crops
16:07 such as cotton.
16:09 The women have gardens around the home
16:10 in which they grow tropical fruits.
16:13 They also cultivate carrots, tomatoes, peppers, cabbages,
16:17 and various types of squash.
16:19 Most of the garden work is done by family members.
16:21 In addition to farming,
16:23 the Dendi also raise some livestock.
16:26 Unfortunately,
16:27 the Dendi suffer times of drought,
16:29 and malnutrition is problem for many of them.
16:34 Benin is one of the least-evangelized country
16:36 south of the Sahara and the Dendi
16:38 are one of approximately 70 ethnic groups
16:41 who make their home there.
16:43 They trace their origin
16:44 to the eighth century kingdom of Za.
16:47 They embraced Islam as early as 1010,
16:49 but it was mixed with their original beliefs in animism.
16:53 Today the Dendi people are almost entirely Muslim.
16:58 Every town has a mosque.
17:00 Many communities have imams or religious leaders
17:03 who teach Islamic philosophy and lead Muslim ceremonies.
17:07 Even though Islam introduced new elements
17:09 to the Dendi culture,
17:11 it left the underlying framework of custom
17:13 and tradition virtually untouched.
17:15 Spirit possession, magic, sorcery,
17:19 ancestor worship and witchcraft remain
17:21 core components of Dendi belief.
17:24 In fact, Benin is considered to be
17:26 the birth place of the voodoo.
17:30 Currently, there are some Christian resources available
17:33 in the Dendi language.
17:35 However a majority of these people have not
17:37 heard a clear presentation of the Gospel.
17:40 Adventist Frontier Missions is working to establish
17:43 Seventh-day Adventist Church planting moments
17:45 among people groups such as the Dendi.
17:47 They have never been exposed to the message of Christ.
17:51 Each missionary AFM sends conducts
17:54 an in-depth study of the culture
17:55 and language of their target people group
17:58 in order to more effectively share the gospel and win souls.
18:02 Once a core group of believers has been established
18:05 they are trained to be spiritual leaders
18:08 in their own culture.
18:09 In this way a Christ centered culture can develop
18:13 without importing western world views.
18:16 Michee and his team have had success
18:18 using this model of evangelism.
18:20 But we're getting ahead of our story
18:22 as you recall Michee and his family were returning
18:25 to Kandi when they encountered a group of bandits.
18:28 We started reversing the truck,
18:31 and they were running after us and shooting at us
18:35 but we fell into a ditch.
18:38 And the bandits surrounded us,
18:39 and they were mad at us because we tried to escape.
18:42 And they started beating us and we saw many people
18:46 that were already on the bush,
18:48 in the bush, on the floor.
18:50 So we also joined the people.
18:52 Because Eliora was with us, I took Eliora from Elmire.
18:57 I was the only on lying on my back facing the sky
19:00 because I put Eliora on my chest.
19:05 So I started praying.
19:07 Elmire was singing and every other person was quiet.
19:13 So I was praying in my heart, God, please do something.
19:16 Forgive me and please don't let anybody get hurt.
19:21 And I opened my eyes and I saw a shooting star
19:26 passing from west to east
19:29 but few minutes after I saw another shooting star
19:32 passing from east to west.
19:34 So I understood that it was a message from God
19:35 that He's there.
19:36 He's seen what is going on that we should be at peace
19:39 He will intervene.
19:46 And as I was thinking,
19:48 I saw a flashing light from a car,
19:53 and I knew that it was the police.
19:56 And I saw the bandits running all over.
19:59 And I said God has answered our prayer in just few minutes
20:03 but we had been there for almost an hour in that bush.
20:07 And the bandits just left.
20:10 So we joined the police car and went to Kandi.
20:14 And some other policemen
20:17 took our truck and drove to the station
20:20 and when we got to Kandi they called me
20:25 I went and picked the truck.
20:28 I noticed that my camera with all the pictures
20:31 that I took at the Ramadan festival were gone.
20:34 My PDA, where I also copied them was gone.
20:37 Elmire's camera, our passports, our cell phones,
20:42 our wallets, everything was gone.
20:45 So when we got home that night we prayed about it.
20:49 We couldn't sleep.
20:51 We spent some minutes at the police
20:54 telling what happened and recording our deposition.
20:59 And we became very quite for sometime
21:03 because the rumor in town was already that we were punished.
21:09 People heard that my camera was gone, so they were happy.
21:12 They also learned that I lost all the pictures,
21:14 so they felt that their prayers were answered,
21:19 and we were very sad.
21:22 Michee story didn't end there,
21:24 God was about to turn the tables again
21:26 working behind the scenes to convenience leaders in the town
21:29 that Michee had been sent by God
21:31 with a message they needed to hear.
21:33 Well, the vindication part of the story
21:36 is where I really praise God and I was so happy
21:40 because we serve an awesome God.
21:43 After two months, when everybody else almost forgotten
21:47 what's happened I had a police call.
21:51 They found out my camera and some stuff that belonged to me
21:54 and so they called me to come and identify them.
21:57 So I went and I saw my camera,
22:01 I saw my PDA and I checked,
22:06 the card was still in, all the pictures were intact
22:10 and I was surprised.
22:13 I was saying in my heart, God, You are wonderful.
22:16 So I returned to Kandi with the news
22:20 and people were kind of saying that's not possible.
22:24 After two months?
22:25 He retrieved his camera with all the pictures in?
22:29 Well, that was a time for us to praise God
22:31 and to show that our God was more powerful.
22:34 And He really-- I mean, assured us
22:39 that we need to trust Him,
22:41 and He will be in charge of how the mission projects will move.
22:47 Michee's efforts have not been without results.
22:50 He and his family have been working with the Dendi people
22:52 since 2006 and in spite of both spiritual and physical attacks
22:57 they have established a Seventh-day Adventist
22:59 presence in Kandi.
23:02 In 2011 they held their fist baptismal for new believers.
23:06 Since then 29 have joined
23:08 this growing company of Seventh-day Adventist.
23:12 Often members come to the church
23:14 after hearing firsthand accounts
23:15 about answered prayers,
23:17 deliverance from spirits and miracles.
23:20 They come seeking freedom from spiritual harassment.
23:23 Michee and the church members gather around these people
23:26 and ask for God's divine intervention.
23:28 God has really opened doors for us to reach our Muslim friends
23:33 through our deliverance ministries.
23:35 We've had imams sending, in secret,
23:39 their children to us to pray for them because of their--
23:43 they had been demon possessed.
23:45 We've had Muslim women coming to us with their children.
23:49 We've been invited in Muslims homes.
23:52 And the deliverance ministry has put us
23:55 also in a very hectic spiritual warfare.
24:00 The resulting testimonies of deliverance and peace
24:03 help spread the news of a church
24:05 encouraging more people to visit.
24:07 To encourage growth from a single church
24:10 to a church planting moment
24:12 Michee has began training members in leadership roles
24:14 such as elders, deacons, song leaders
24:17 and Sabbath school teachers.
24:19 He also teaches techniques in person evangelism,
24:22 Christian living and healthy lifestyle among others.
24:28 The faith dialogue center has become a center of influence
24:31 in the Kandi community.
24:32 It is well known for being a place of open discussion
24:35 between Muslims and Christians
24:37 where both feel welcome and at ease.
24:40 Due to the rapid growth of the church membership
24:42 the Faith Dialogue Center has become too small to accommodate
24:45 the members and the Muslims are starting to see it
24:48 as an exclusively Christian building.
24:51 For these reasons the Dendi mission project
24:53 is seeking funds to build a new church building.
24:57 To enhance security and prevent property encroachment
25:00 the Dendi project is constructing
25:01 a wall enclosing the Faith Dialogue Center.
25:05 Thanks to the generous gifts of donors like you
25:07 the construction on this project
25:09 is expected to be completed this year.
25:13 The Dendi are not the only unreached people group
25:15 waiting to hear the gospel.
25:17 Over 6,000 others will never hear of Jesus
25:20 unless someone goes to tell them.
25:23 If you feel called to be a missionary
25:25 please give us a call at 800-937-4236.
25:31 AFM missionaries also need your prayers and financial support.
25:35 We invite you to support the Dendi project
25:37 or similar ones that target other unreached people groups.
25:41 Simply send your gifts to Adventist Frontier Missions,
25:45 P.O. Box 286, Berrien Springs, Michigan, 49103.
25:50 That's P.O. Box 286, Berrien Springs, Michigan, 49103
25:56 or you may call us at 800-937-4236.
26:01 That's 800-937-4236.
26:05 You may also visit us online at
26:09 Giving is easy and secure.
26:12 Thank you for helping to reach the unreached
26:14 with the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Revised 2014-12-17