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Former fetish chief learns it’s never too late to follow Jesus

KOKORO, Benin (BP)–Kabla Dgagbata isn’t quite sure how old he is. He recalls he was “an old man — over 40” when he lived in Ghana in the 1950s.
In West Africa, where an average man lives only about 50 years, that might have qualified him as an old man.
But today, at about 90, he’s a miracle — in more ways than one.
“I was a chief of the fetish,” said Dgagbata. He sits erect on a crude bench, a split log resting in two forked stumps. His tall, muscular frame offers no clue that he’s almost outlived a second generation of neighbors.
“I offered sacrifices and contacted spirits of the dead. People came to me for healing. I gathered leaves and mixed them with the blood of chickens or goats sacrificed to the gods. There was power in my charms and potions.
“But my life was always full of problems.”
When Dgagbata journeyed into the bush to make sacrifices, he would return exhausted, his body feverish, his mind tormented. Each time his wife became pregnant, she had trouble. Though they paid large sums for fetish sacrifices and spent more on hospital bills, every child born to them died.
“All the things I did in the past made no sense,” he said, leaning forward on the bench and gesturing forcefully with his large hands. “I paid a large sum of money to become fetish chief, but all the money I received I sacrificed to the spirits.”
Then one day two years ago he heard someone in his village talking. “I heard him say that Jesus could save and heal, that he gave good gifts that you didn’t have to buy. I thought: ‘This is the man I need to go to.'”
After two months in the new Baptist church at Kokoro village, Dgagbata knew he wanted Jesus. He destroyed all his fetish charms and instruments and gave his life to Christ. The villagers who depended on him for protection from the spirits were devastated.
“People begged me to come back,” he recalled. “They promised to work my farm for me and to give me all the chickens and goats I could eat, if I would leave the church and stay with them.
“I said, ‘No, I don’t want to come back. This is where God is. God has blessed me and taken care of me. There is truth here, and the fetish is full of lies.
“When I came to know Jesus it was like I went from one world to another,” Dgagbata continued. “Now I am happy. I have peace in my heart. I can think straight.
“And when my (present) wife got pregnant, she had no trouble. We spent nothing at the hospital. We made no sacrifices. The baby was born healthy.”
He points toward a baby sleeping peacefully in a sling on a young woman’s back. Five-week-old Dorcas is all the proof he needs that a man — even a man his age — ought to follow Jesus.
“When I see people, I tell them they need to come and experience the good things that I found in Jesus. I tell them what Jesus has done in my life, how he has changed my life.
“I tell them this every time I see them.”

    About the Author

  • Mark Kelly