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Adventist Mission


Burn the Black Stick

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, February 4.

By Andrew McChesney


eople were very afraid of Joseph in his village in the African country of Tanzania. People were very afraid of Joseph in many other places in Tanzania as well. In fact, people were afraid of Joseph in other countries in East Africa and even as far away as Norway.

Joseph was a witch doctor. People who did not know the God of heaven asked Joseph to heal them and their loved ones. People who did not know the God of heaven asked Joseph to put curses on their enemies.

Joseph owned a black stick that he kept in a special place in his house. He used the black stick when people asked him to heal someone. He used the black stick when people asked him to curse someone. He believed that the black stick had special power. He thought that his life was hidden in the black stick.

People were afraid of Joseph’s black stick. But even more than the stick, they were afraid of Joseph. They believed that he even had the power to kill by simply pointing his finger at someone.

What people didn’t realize was that Joseph didn’t have any special power; the power that they thought he had came from evil angels. Still, no one dared to say a word against Joseph. Not in Tanzania. Not in other East African countries. And not in Norway, where Joseph once traveled to practice his witchcraft.

Then Seventh-day Adventists came to Joseph’s village. They invited Joseph and other villagers to listen to sermons about the God of heaven. Joseph was curious, and he went. As he listened, the power of God touched his heart. He decided to give his heart to God and be baptized.

The preacher was delighted that Joseph wanted to live for the God of heaven. But he told him that he needed to burn all his wicked charms. Joseph owned many charms that he used to practice his witchcraft. The pastor said Joseph should burn his charms in front of all the village.

Joseph agreed under one condition.

“You can burn everything but not the black stick,” he said.

He said his life was hidden in the black stick and he would die if the stick was destroyed.

The preacher assured him that he would not die.

“Your life is not hidden in the power of the devil but in the power of Jesus,” he said. “You won’t be harmed if you only trust the Savior.”

Joseph and the preacher spoke for a short time. Finally, Joseph agreed to burn all his charms — including the black stick.

A big bonfire was set up in the village. Joseph tossed his charms into the flames as the villagers watched in amazement. The man who had frightened them with his witchcraft was now destroying his witchcraft in the fire. The man whom they had feared so much now feared the God of heaven.

Joseph did not look like a scary witch doctor as he watched the bonfire. A big smile stretched across his face as he joyfully leaped around the flames. In an upraised hand, he held a Bible. Watching villagers sang praises to the Lord.

Joseph didn’t waste any time in sharing his new love for the God of heaven. Shortly after his baptism, he introduced a friend, who also was a witch doctor, to God. He also was baptized.

Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help build a new building at the University of Arusha in Tanzania so more pastors can be trained to preach the love of Jesus to witch doctors and others in Africa. Thank you for planning a generous offering.