Uganda (MNN) — A Ugandan pastor recently issued an international call for help. Speaking before Australia’s parliament, Pastor Peter Sewakiryanga red-flagged the rise of child sacrifices in his country and asked officials to take action. Uganda’s government lacks funding to properly address the issue, according to Australia-based ABC News.
Set Free Ministries’ Dean VanderMey says witch doctors are behind the crisis. “Witch doctors actually kidnap children… for the bloodletting,” he states.
“There’s not only animals being sacrificed, but there’s actual children being sacrificed.”
What’s going on in Uganda?
Local believers invited Set Free Ministries to Uganda in 2004, and they began working with kids and churches in 2005. They’ve seen firsthand the power witch doctors hold over communities.
“There’s a witch doctor for every 11 to 12 people depending on what region you’re in. They hold everything through fear and intimidation,” VanderMey says.
Soon after Set Free began working in Uganda, VanderMey queried a group of local pastors during a conference. “I hear it’s customary when you have a child that you have two weeks…before the witch doctors demand you bring your child in for dedication. If you don’t, they will curse you and your child gets sick,” he remembers discussing with the men present.
“Have all of you had your children dedicated by the witch doctors?”
VanderMey says each man in the group bowed his head in shame. Pastors felt powerless and afraid of the witch doctors’ abilities.
“Every pastor there had allowed their children to be dedicated to Satan.”
Set Free and its partnering churches give kids and their families an alternative.
How to put witch doctors out of business
Set Free offers hope and protection through Christian education and mentoring. More about that here. “We have nine schools right now…those nine schools [educate] between 250 and 300 students a year,” says VanderMey.
Uganda’s AIDS epidemic of previous decades resulted in “2.3 million orphans; they say 75% of Uganda is age 18 and under. It’s now a nation of children, really,” he adds.
“The last thing Jesus said before He left Earth was ‘go make disciples.’ We’re making disciples of all nations and, in Uganda, there’s a lot of children that need discipleship.”
Set Free wants to expand their efforts by building Light Academy – the region’s first Christian high school and vocational school. “Only 10% of students go to high school,” VanderMey explains.
“A lot of the girls get human trafficked, and we don’t want to see that. We want to keep them in school and keep them educated, and then [help] them get jobs [through] a vocational training center.”
Set Free’s team needs to raise $5.3 million over the next five years to make Light Academy a reality, VanderMey says. Click here and select “SFM East Africa” to give a gift.
“We’re looking for new donors who might be interested in helping because… it’s actually revolutionizing a whole region of people,” he explains, referring to Ugandan believers previously held captive by their fear of witch doctors.
“[They’re] not only set free in Christ, but now they’re raising up a generation of new disciples.”
He also requests prayer. “Pray that God will continue the revival, and to bring beauty for ashes. We love seeing that going on right now — it’s just beauty for ashes,” VanderMey asks, referring to Isaiah 61.
“Pray that the Lord would keep bringing in more and more orphaned children who are coming to faith.”
Header image depicts a Sudanese witch doctor or “master on traditional medicine” preparing a treatment against mental illness. Photo by Albert Gonzalez Farran – UNAMID via Flickr/Creative Commons.