By Rev. Fr. Michel Tchoumbou Ngantchop
A short video clip from CRTV landed on our family Whatsapp forum this week. It was a segment from the 7:30 bilingual news talking about a python that was allegedly killed in Bamenda recently. Earlier, I had seen clips of it on other online portals, webpages and newspapers, obviously, because CRTV made it a major news item on radio and television. It was the topic of conversation in bars, at home, and among neighbours and friends.
For them, as for many people who had seen the clip, the sight of a partly opened dead python lying next to a list of names was a cause of great fear and uncertainty. One can only begin to imagine what such fears and uncertainties might have triggered in many people. Some people have cleared every dark corner in their offices and homes, while for some it has been an opportunity to confirm the need to suspect, hate, accuse and divide. Others might have turned to “greater powers” for more protective charms and invocations.
As Christian, we often come across such stories. Most of us are not indifferent to them. Even if we dismiss them as farce, there is always the need to convince one or two people around us to do the same. Driven by fear and uncertainty, we may even find ourselves reacting in ways that might bring others to question our faith in God. Some people might do it in ways that look Christians but that in reality shows that deep inside they are controlled by the same fears and uncertainties. How should a Christian react to such news? What is the Christian attitude towards stories of witchcraft and mysterious occurrences that are often told around us?
The gospels give us the assurances that Christ has conquered the world (John 16:33); He is above all principalities, powers, and dominions (Colossians 1:15-20). As Christians, we are “in Christ.” The battle is no longer ours but Christ’s. This comes down to the fact that on the day of one’s baptism one chooses a team to reckon with- the winning team. That another team made of evil, witches, pythons and principalities or powers exist or not, that choice has been made. I belong to Christ. I am a Child of light. Let the powers of darkness defend themselves against my presence. Christ has sealed their fate. The gates of the underworld cannot resist me. In a sense, stories of this nature do not deserve the attention that we often give them.
A Christian should not be afraid to walk pass such stories. In fact, more than anyone else, and strengthened by faith, a Christian has the ability to take such stories with a pinch of salt. Because of this ability, they can begin to offer comments and observations that might help others do same. And as we look closely we may begin to see or read such stories differently, tearing them apart to truly look like the fact-less scam that most of them, if not all of them, truly are.
The feeling of fear is the most abused of all human emotions. It is the most vulnerable part of ourselves. When someone controls your fears, he controls you. Those who understand this manipulate the ignorant. They tell stories that get blown out of proportion by other fearful hearts. No wonder one of Jesus’ short but very firm commands is a four letter sentence: “Do not be afraid”, meaning do not give in to your fears.