A Reformed Witch Doctor’s journey as a Christian

In South Sudan, sorcery and animism are common. Witch doctors are consulted on many issues including illness, conflict, business rivalry and countless community issues. It is common for them to impose hefty payments for the assistance they give. They are greatly feared.

Photo by Christena Dowsett/ World Concern

30-year-old Deng was a renowned witch doctor along the outskirts of Warrap State in South Sudan. As a witch doctor, he would call upon his gods to punish people on behalf his clients and would receive payment of up to 10 goats. Deng believes his grandfather chose him at an early age as the heir to his trade. As a boy, he remembers experiencing seizures regularly.

World Concern built relationships with people in Deng’s village and enabled them to access clean water, adult literacy education and more nutritious food due to better farming methods. 

Evangelism through Jesus Film and equipping community members with solar-powered audio Bibles, had enabled residents to listen and discuss the word of God through meaningful fellowships.

Deng listens to an audio Bible. Photo by Christena Dowsett/ World Concern

During one of the audio Bible study fellowships, Deng decided to give his life to Christ. He said he would call on other gods but they wouldn’t answer him. 

“I know that the God I worship today, answers prayer,” he said.

Deng has become active member of Mayen church. He spends a significant amount of time there, learning more about God and attending literacy classes run by World Concern. Acquiring better farming methods at a demonstration farm started by World Concern, has equipped Deng to plant sorghum and sesame.

Deng, left, plants sorghum and sesame seeds in the garden outside his home. Photo by Christena Dowsett/ World Concern

During conflict between pastoralists and farmers in the past year, Deng was one of the attendees at a community peace-building meeting.  With time he has also been integrated back into the community as a resident and is seen as a leader in the village.

Photo by Christena Dowsett

When Deng was a witch doctor, Elizabeth used to visit him for healing. “Deng is the one who used to help me. When he became a Christian, I felt alone.”

Two years later Elizabeth became a Christian.

Elizabeth Athian holds her youngest child at home. Photo by Christena Dowsett/ World Concern

“I knew I was using the power of evil because I would become unconscious… I didn’t see anything good in it,” he said.

Photo by Christena Dowsett/ World Concern

So far, 32 people in the community have become Christians through Deng’s life change. 

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