West Africa has a dark history of wars, colonization and slavery. The coast stretching from Ghana through Togo, Benin and Nigeria was formerly known as the Slave Coast. This area was conquered by the French, British and Portuguese all at different times throughout the salve trade. The countries of Togo and Benin saw over 10% of the entire western slave exportation.
It has been a dark past as you can imagine.
Years removed from this horrible past and there is a different bondage today. This area has become the birthplace of voodoo. Lomé, Togo is the leader of all fetish sales in the world.
Every year on January 10th there is a massive voodoo festival. On the beaches of Ouida, Benin thousands of people will gather together standing in the exact place their ancestors boarded crowded ships to be shipped somewhere to the west.
In their freedom today, they will commemorate their ancestors by sacrificing goats to idols and participating in other rituals led by voodoo priests and priestesses. People come to experience the supernatural and often to participate in it.
As I stood there on those beaches taking in my surroundings, I couldn't help but feel an incredible weight on my body. Things seemed to move in slow motion and those scenes will be etched in my mind until the day I die.
I saw free people celebrate their freedom by worshiping deities in the form of idols. They were seeking a supernatural power that would save them and were becoming enslaved to it.
In this specific area their main deity is the python. People, in service to this deity, will cut slits in their forehead and cheeks to mimic the breathing holes of the python. This is an act to signify that they are in service to the deity of the python.
Even today as I sit back and think about those scenes, I can sometimes feel the heaviness of that day.
These people have overcome years of exportation of precious human life and now choose to enslave themselves to a supernatural power in the form of an object or animal. It is so clear to see the foot print of the enemy here.
This is why I am going. I have been set free by the blood of Christ and I can now live freely! By the gift of grace, it cost me nothing! It is free and I am free in Christ. That is a message that needs to be shared with the people enslaved that have never known or heard. What an opportunity to bring the Good News that they can find freedom in Christ and be forever changed!