By Fr. Moses Tazoh
In her second year in Government Grammar School Molyko, Buea, Hortense Manthou dropped out. She could not meet her school needs. She would rather get into the world and fend for herself, she thought. With odd jobs she would support herself and her parents and six junior siblings. Her father was a poor farmer and her mother was epileptic and housebound.
Barely a few days the friends came with a request. There was an upcoming birthday party where Hortense would be an august visitor, they suggested. She agreed without a second thought. She dressed in what she could afford and they insisted she had to be in the attire she got as a priceless gift. She obeyed. Onlookers were mesmerized that the four were on top form and in the same apparel.
The party started in earnest. There was much to eat and drink. Soon they took to the floor to display their dancing styles. Still in her innocence she believed it was just merrymaking. The celebration ended and they went home, sky-high.
Just as she was recuperating in her sleep, the bomb dropped. At exactly 12 am a voice came. It was persistent. She got on her feet. As soon as she put on the lights her three friends were right in her room. How have they found their way in? Had she forgotten to bolt her door? Still trying to come to terms with the mystery, they simply told her there was no time left. It was time to go out. Still in her stupor, the three held her hand and led her out through the wall.
Suddenly they found themselves in a very beautiful house in the water with men, women and children as occupants and some in chains. "This is your new house", she was given a tall order. Then she recalled very vividly: "I saw a woman sitting on a high chair, with a crown on her head. I was told she was the queen." Back home, Hortense had peculiar dreams every 12am. Now, she would swim. Then, she would eat pork and drink wine. Her friends respected their regular visits to her.
The moment had come to let the cat out of the bag. They placed a mirror in front of her. The sufferings of her family were X-rayed. It instilled in her self-pity and self-condemnation. They had a solution to her plight, they consoled her. She was promised an offer of FCFA 1.500.000 if she would kill her parent. It was beginning to dawn on her that she had been initiated into a secret cult. This was unbearable and unfortunate. She would not succumb to this secret deal. Would it make sense if she had the money and no parents to take care of, she recollected. Angered by her stubbornness, the friends decided to do it themselves. At midnight they came to poison her mother, but her bed was surrounded by fire.
Back in the kingdom she was ordered to kill an innocent child. She protested. She had no powers to do it, she confessed. They gave her something to eat. Her eyes were spiritually opened. Though empowered she still refused. Her punishment was to be in chain and without food. By now she could disappear and attend meetings between 12am and 3.30am.
Since she proved to be goodhearted, she was assigned to work in the hospital. With the cooperation of a nurse, also a member of the kingdom, they would cause atrocities like miscarriages, women dying at childbirth, barrenness and children born with disabilities. They make men impotent or cripple businessmen when they have sex with them. "At times I avoided the casualty by cautioning the people concerned. Once I could not help killing a boy, without which we would have had nothing to eat at home as they were bent on destroying our little farm."
"Fed up, I began to seek help to get out. A few attempts were made to deliver me in the Presbyterian Church where I belonged but to no avail. I confided in a Catholic neighbour, Relindis, who took me to the priest in charge of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. I began to frequent their fellowship. One day I was slain by the Spirit. My friends were outside trying to rescue me but they could not stand the heating force of the prayers. They disappeared into thin air."
In the kingdom a fierce battle started on both physical and spiritual fronts. She was falsely accused of having stolen money. For three weeks she was in prison without bail because her friends blocked all possibilities by bribe and influence on the police, court officials and the student whose money she was accused of stealing. Her friends brought her some food but it was to make her comply with their wishes. She could not bear shedding more blood. The pains of the prison were a lesser evil, she mused. She finally came to her senses. "For three days I prayed and fasted, asking God to vindicate me. I went to court for the final judgment. The judge was about to pronounce his judgment. The forces of darkness invaded the courtroom. The picture of Silas and Paul in captivity flashed in my mind as I began to praise and worship God to champion my cause. As I prayed I saw the magistrate surrounded by such fire that they could not get to his presence. The verdict was in my favour. I was discharged and acquitted. Praise the Lord. Alleluia"
"On my release I sent word to my spiritual father. He invited me to the next fellowship session. As praise and worship started I felt fire all around me and I found myself spiritually in the kingdom of darkness. I was chained and put in a bottle like a small rat. As prayers intensified I saw a man in a white garment and a sword in his hand. As he lifted the sword the chains fell apart and the bottle shattered. At that moment I was free. Amen"
"For some time I never saw my friends again. Thinking it was all over, I relaxed. There, they came again. But I was armed with the weapon they fear most, the rosary. With steadfast prayers they never treaded on the holy ground. By the grace of God I had regained my freedom as a child of God. After instructions I was received into the Catholic Faith. I have been able to learn a trade in design and house decoration. I am grateful to the members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal with whom I continue to journey together, especially in the praying ministry, to restore the wounded world to its Creator."