This week I met a 17 year old girl at the social welfare office who was running from being forced into marriage with an older man. This older man already had one wife. She had run to the police station, and the police had taken her to the social welfare office. She had been there sleeping on a bench for two days.
In talking with the girl, her story went like this. She practices voodoo, In fact her grandmother handed down all her powers to her before she died, so she is one of the spiritual matriarchs in her village. Her body showed this as she had shell bracelets covering her wrists and ankles. Her neck was also adorned with similar necklaces. All these were earned from doing things within the secret society within the voodoo rituals.
It is custom that when a man wants to marry you, they will do a type of sacrifice to the gods to earn your hand in marriage. The young man who she wanted to marry began this sacrificial process to the gods, but got in trouble with the law and was put in jail for something. While he was in jail on a temporary sentence, another older man with one wife, decided he would finish the sacrifice to be able to marry her as his second wife. He made this agreement with the girls mother without her knowledge.
The man completed the sacrifice and came to retrieve his bride. At the same time the young man was released from jail and showed up to finish his sacrifice, only to find out this other man had already completed it. The Men got into a huge fight and the girl escaped to the police station for fear she would be forced to go with the older man. The whole village was prepared to carry her forcefully to him, as he earned the right to have her.
I asked her if I could pray for her. She said no, I practice voodoo you cannot pray for me. I shared with her about a God of love, and how practicing voodoo will destroy her and the power she carries within her from voodoo will be used against her as she grows older. It is a trap that is used by satan to show us power and to entice us, but there is no love in this religion, it is only about power. That kind of power does not operate in love. It only destroys.
In looking me in the eyes, she asked if there is voodoo in America, I said yes, but not as much as here. She said, well then, you do not know much about voodoo, you white people do not understand our voodoo. It is just how we live here.
I let her know that one day when she is in real trouble, I want her to remember this conversation and to remember that the God who created her in her mothers womb is waiting for her. He loves her so much and so wants a relationship with her. He is the God who created the Universe and has the ultimate power over all the whole world including voodoo. She looked at me and said okay. I thanked her for sharing her story then walked away. She clearly did not want to talk anymore.
When I returned to the orphanage/safe home I could not help but think of all these kids who have been rescued from that kind of bondage in the villages they were living in. Not only were many used as domestic servants with huge abuse, but many of them were also deeply apart of the voodoo rituals that daily occurred. This was a way of life for them. They knew nothing else.
Not too long ago a grandmother of one of the older girls we have, tried feverishly to get her back to the village so she could transfer her powers to her grandchild before she died. She was the spiritual Matriarch (which we call the village witch in America), of the whole village and needed to turn her powers over to her only female blood relative who was her age. Her powers would be lost forever if she did not do this.
The house mother refused to let her go to the grandmother by making the excuse that she had to stay in school. Her education was very important to the future of her village. The social workers backed the house mother, and the girl was rescued. This particular girl is completely oblivious to the fact she was spared from such a life. All she knows now is about a God who loves and values her incredibly. She is thriving in Christ.
This girl on the bench was a good reminder of where many of our kids in this home would be had they not been rescued from this other life.