In these days I got the sad news that another Mengen believer has passed away. Him and his family is very precious to me. When we moved into the area in 2009, this family was the first to open their hearts and home to me and Marie. It’s very very hard for me, as they have become my family! I would want to be there with them. I would want to spend a few days with them, standing at their backs! But this is God’s plan for me for now.
FROM MENGEN SHAMAN….
So today, I will share the story of Topa Tamana with you. He has other names, but this is the way to address a married man, especially an elder. When I moved into our village, Topa Tamana was a bit on the back ground and more introverted than some of the other Mengen elders, but I quickly learned that he actually has more status than most of the Mengen men. Topa Tamana was one of the shamans of our village.
For you to understand the importance of his role within the Mengen community, you need to remember that the Mengens believe that all things have a spiritual root. And the only way to affect or influence any situation in the physical world, is via the spiritual world. And the Shaman is seen as the key to having access to the spirit world. Topa Tamana a mediator between the physical world and spirit world, and played a key role in customs, rituals, ceremonies, magic, healing and divination. All of these were done to maintain the balance between the natural and spiritual realms.
As you can imagine, he had great influence within our community, which gave him status and wealth. So in these early days of language learning, he and his family became good friends of ours. We would often spend time with them, having meals together and learning from them. As I studied the Mengen language and culture I witnessed him practicing many rituals and soon realized that it would not be easy for him to turn away from his position and follow Christ. It will come at a price!
….TO TRUSTING IN CHRIST
When my co-worker started to teach evangelically from Creation to Christ, Topa Tamana and his wife and kids attended all the teaching. Four days a week, twice a day for four months. It’s often not strange for these shamans to attend teaching like this, as they hope to find more secrets to manipulate the spirit world. But this time around God touched their hearts and both Topa Tamana and his wife placed their trust in Christ.
After a while we baptised the first Mengen believers and Topa Tamana approached us and said that he would like to be baptised as well. This was now a public declaration that he has turned away from his old believe system. This was no small thing for a man of his status and position.
And so it happened that soon the community started to approach him to perform his duties as mediator, but he did not continue to follow his old ways. This meant that he lost his status and income and was often accused of angering the spirits due to neglecting his role as mediator.
….AND FAITHFULLY FOLLOWING HIM….
Over the years it was amazing for me to witness how he followed Christ. After our initial evangelical teaching was completed, we started on a long-term teaching and discipleship track which is still continuing today. And so, over a 10 year period, Topa Tamana, faithfully attended the teaching sessions, and responded in obedience as we discipled him. He became one of the faithful older men in our village who helped me evaluate our curriculum and played a key role in discipling and shepherding the church. One of his greatest characteristics that truly humbled me, was to see his servant heart. even though he was older, and respected elder in the Mengen community, he continued to serve people. He often checked up on me, and him and his wife took care of me when I was alone in the village. Even though he was not officially appointed as a deacon he functioned as one and was recognized and appreciated by the church.
…. NOW MEETING THE REAL MEDIATOR.
So in these days, I heard that he died. He transitioned from being a mediator between the Mengen people and the dark spirit world, to trusting in the true mediator and now meeting Jesus himself! Even though I am really sad that I could not be there to greet him, and support his family, I experience joy as this is the reason why we sacrifice our lives to reach the unreached!
Thank you so much for your role in making it possible that people like Topa Tamana can be saved and enter eternity with Christ. Your investment by praying and financially supporting us is reaping eternal benefits!
Lourens and Marie Laureti
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