Ngoyi was a witch doctor who lived outside a large town along the Kasai River in southwestern Zaire. Many of the people in this area work in the diamond mines, for which the area is famous.
Ngoyi lived in a small hut in the forest near the river. Everyone was afraid of Ngoyi because of the power he held over them. He had the power to kill someone with a curse. If someone became sick in the night, people spoke in whispers that Ngoyi must have caused the sickness. Only his wife and four children were not afraid to live with him.
One day an Adventist pastor announced that he was going to hold evangelistic meetings. He pitched a tent and passed out notices of his meetings. Many people came to the meetings, but no one invited Ngoyi. No one would risk going near his home.
But Ngoyi's children learned about the meetings, and they chattered excitedly about them. Ngoyi decided to attend the meetings and see what this man had to say that had excited the villagers.
Ngoyi Has Come!
When he walked into town and approached the tent that evening, everyone was surprised to see him. Whispered words and frightened looks spread the word that Ngoyi was there. Would he cast a spell on the minister? They waited to see.
But Ngoyi simply walked into the tent and sat down on the end of a rough-hewn wood bench. The villagers moved over to give him room to sit, but no one sat too close to him, because they feared the man and the evil he represented. His family had not come with him. Throughout the meeting, Ngoyi sat quietly and listened to the man who spoke of Jesus.
Ngoyi returned the following night to listen to the minister's final message. Again the people moved to make room for the witch doctor.
The minister made a call for those who would like to follow Jesus. Many people walked to the front of the meeting area. Then someone heard a shuffling sound and looked around. Ngoyi had come forward too! Whispers flew through the large crowd standing at the front, and through the worshipers who had remained in the pews, "Ngoyi has come."
Some 80 people had come forward that day to accept Jesus as their Saviour and to request baptism. The pastor held a baptismal class for these people, and Ngoyi attended faithfully. As the pastor explained what it meant to be baptized and to follow Jesus, he asked them if they understood what it meant to obey Jesus and the commandments. He then spoke to each baptismal candidate individually, to be sure each understood the commitment he or she was making. As he spoke to Ngoyi, the Adventist believers in this village prayed and fasted, asking God to win the heart of this devil worshiper. The pastor told him that to follow Christ he would have to give up his devil worship, his charms, and his witchcraft.
The believers gathered with the pastor at the riverside. One by one the new believers entered the river and sealed their covenant with Christ. Finally, it was Ngoyi's turn. The people watched with intense interest as this man whom they feared became a brother in Christ.
As the pastor lowered Ngoyi into the water, the pastor lost his balance and fell. He regained his footing, and while the members on the shore prayed, the pastor tried to baptize Ngoyi again. Again the pastor lost his balance and fell into the water. It was as if some unseen hand had pushed him. The third time the pair tried to complete the baptism, the pastor lost hold of Ngoyi, and the witch doctor totally disappeared into the deep water.
The Witch Doctor Disappeared!
The pastor looked around for Ngoyi, but he could not see him. As those on shore realized the problem, young people dived into the water to begin searching for Ngoyi. For an hour the people searched under the water and along the banks for the witch doctor, or his body. But they could find no sign of him.
The people were discouraged and frightened. Had the devil killed him? Someone ran to Ngoyi's house some distance away and told his family what had happened. They came running to the river. Ngoyi's brothers shouted angrily at the pastor and worshipers still standing in and around the river. Many of the church members had rushed to the church and knelt in prayer, pleading that God would intervene. They did not understand what had happened. Later that afternoon they returned to the lake, hoping to find Ngoyi's body. By the lake they prayed again, then sadly they waded into the water to continue searching for Ngoyi's body.
The pastor waded into the river toward the place where he had held the baptism, and again began to feel around beneath the murky water. He felt something. Reaching down, he felt an arm and grabbed it. He raised a shout as he pulled with all his might to bring the body to the surface. Ngoyi rose to the surface, alive, as though nothing had happened! A shout rose from those surrounding the lake as the two men walked toward the shore.
The crowd pressed around Ngoyi and the pastor, singing and praising God for His miracle. Then Ngoyi told them what had happened. While he was under the water, he had a dream that he had taken his witch doctor's charms and destroyed them. "I have heard many pastors from other churches. I have studied their beliefs. And every time when the time of baptism came, I baptized the pastor instead of the pastor baptizing me." By this Ngoyi meant that he had defeated the pastors and proved to himself that his own powers were stronger than theirs. "But today," he continued, "in this church, I could not baptize the pastor; instead I was baptized. This is the true church, and your God is the greatest God."
Ngoyi asked the pastor to come with him to his home on the edge of the forest outside the village. There, he collected all his idols, charms, snakeskins, and pieces of strings, and put them into a big basket. Then he gave the basket to the pastor. "I know now that the God of heaven is more powerful than these fetishes. I give them to you," Ngoyi said quietly. Together the pastor and the former witch doctor prayed, then they took the basket containing the fetishes and charms into the village and burned them in a solemn ceremony where everyone who knew Ngoyi could see that the former witch doctor truly meant what he said.
Ngoyi became a faithful member of the church, serving God humbly and following Him completely. His family followed his example and joined the church. After the people in the town saw the difference Christ had made in this man's life, many others were converted as well. In that town today, and the area surrounding it, 30,000 Adventists live. Many of these believers were converted as a result of hearing Ngoyi's testimony and watching his Christian example.
Recently, just five years after his baptism, Ngoyi died, faithful to the church and the God he loved.
Mission, Apr-June 1996, pp. 19, 20.
Last revised: 1 Oct 2011.