The Prophets of Baal By
The day of the big sacrifice is here. People come from all over to
participate. The drums pound out a driving rhythm as the men dance around in
a circle, facing each other as their arms and shoulders jerk back and forth
in time with the beat of the drums. How long can this go on? After several
hours of increasingly enthusiastic dancing, two of the dancers suddenly
start to stumble around. Other in the group help them take off their clothes
and put on a grass skirt. The two then begin to dance with even greater
fervor. They separate themselves from the group. Their dancing is no longer
in a circle, no longer the predicted movements of before. Instead, they move
about in a much larger area, their movements controlled only by the spirits
which possess them. One man runs across the area, rolling lengthwise on the
ground before popping up to continue his dance. The other dances in place,
using the same jerking shoulder and arm movements as before, only now, he
carries them out with incredible rapidity. It is this man which suddenly
takes a knife from the waist of his grass skirt and begins to slash his
arms. Does he feel that? Why doesn't he stop? He continues to slash
ruthlessly until blood flows freely from both arms. As he continues this
self mutilation, the other man begins to do the same thing. In a matter of
minutes both men are covered with bloody wounds on their arms and shoulders,
chests, abdomens, and one even has a slash across his face. Is this pleasing
to their god? Will he answer them?
The scene I have described here is not that from the spiritual battle
between Elijah and the prophets of Baal in I Kings 18. The men are rather
Kokushi, "wives" of the god Koku. The scene takes place on a regular basis,
not on Mount Carmel, but rather among the Aja people of Benin and Togo.
These men are modern day prophets of Baal.
I am currently involved in a effort to bring such a group of men back into
relationship with God. Two weeks ago, Joseph Limakpo and I began to speak of
Eternal God and what he has done for us, in the village of Églimé (ay-GLEE -
may). When I first went to this village, I noticed right off the scars on
the arms, shoulders, chests, abdomens, and even faces of the people of this
village. Because I was familiar with Kokushi, I knew right away that many of
the people that I met were devoted to serving this particular god.
The first week we recounted the story of Daniel in the lions den, and the
second we talked about the confrontation on Mount Carmel between Elijah and
the prophets of Baal. The people of Églimé were fascinated by both stories,
but I was especially interested to see how they would react to the Biblical
story of a people so similar to themselves. At what I would call the climax
of our lesson, Joseph asked them whether they wanted to follow Eternal God
like Elijah, or if they wanted to follow the gods like the prophets of Baal.
We were thrilled that a large number said they want to follow Eternal God. I
was a little surprised, however, when one guy said he wanted to follow the
gods, like the prophets of Baal. This was, after all, a choice for the
losing side in the story he had just heard. The man went on to say that if
we were asking him to serve God and leave the gods, he would give us back
the papers that we had given him (copies of our translation of the relevant
scriptures into Ajagbe, along with songs to go with each lesson), and leave
right then! Joseph went on to explain to him that he couldn't make a
decision about whether or not he wanted to become a Christian yet, because
he didn't yet know what that even meant. He told him that other lessons were
coming that would help him get to know God better, and encouraged him to
listen to them before making his decision.
I want to covet your prayers for this village. We believe that the battle in
Églimé is spiritual, just as was the one on Mount Carmel. Pray that we will
speak boldly, as did Elijah. This is actually Joseph's preaching point. I
have been going as an encouragement to him, so pray specifically for his
proclamation in this village. We also believe that Almighty God is more
powerful than the gods that the people of this village worship. We ask that
you pray that they will recognize that power and submit their lives to Him.
In 1Kings, Elijah ended up killing the prophets of Baal. Pray that this
battle will result rather in a change of allegiance and changed lives. Pray
especially for the leader of this village. His natural leadership qualities
are evident, and as he retold the story of Daniel as we reviewed the week
after that lesson, I began to dream of how powerfully God could use him in
Your prayers make a difference. May God be praised and may our faith grow as
we see Him working in the village of Églimé.
All pages Copyright ©2002 by
Gailyn Van Rheenen..
If you wish to copy or in any other way reproduce or distribute this
information, please request permission by contacting
Gailyn Van Rheenen.