A young man has shared of how his life was transformed from one of violent activity in a witchcraft gang to living a new life in relationship with Jesus.
Emmanuel, aged 16, from Congo Brazzaville was once lured into a violent witchcraft gang. At his initiation Emmanuel had to hold a venomous snake and chant strange prayers whilst other gang members cut into his arms “to make him strong,” the Bible Society reports.
Emmanuel had been sent to an orphanage at age nine when his mother was too sick with AIDS to support him. At the orphanage Emmanuel was vulnerable and needed somewhere to belong. He was lured into a gang that promised magic powers and super strength found through special mantras and spells.
After initiation, Emmanuel was soon groomed into being a criminal. He was taught how to pickpocket and steal from street stalls. He began drinking and became increasingly violent. As the Bible Society said, “he’d beat up anyone if they had a disagreement.”
Everything changed when Emmanuel met Jesus. The Bible Society visited his orphanage to run the Good Samaritan programme. The course uses the famous Biblical parable and interactive workshops to teach young people social values and how to be a “loving caring citizen”.
At first Emmanuel was wary of the programme, and watched from the back, listening but not participating. Over time though, he heard more about Jesus, and began to engage more until his life was changed.
“The Good Samaritan showed me how to live differently” says 16 year-old Emmanuel.
“Now my life is very different,” he says.
“I went to a pastor and talked to him about the things I had been doing. I started praying and reading my Bible.”
Emmanuel has now forgone his life of crime. He has cut ties with the witchcraft gang, and prays for them instead. He helps out with chores at the orphanage, teaches other young orphans football skills and serves as a mentor. He now studies hard at school, and hopes to become an accountant.
“I want to tell young people like me to avoid bad things and to accept Jesus Christ.” Emmanuel says.
“I have done bad things. I have stolen from people and hurt people. But now I respect people because of Jesus.”