Photo EssayField Stories

Former Witch Converts to Christ

Mama Melanie tried to kill herself four times before she was introduced to the gospel and eternal life.
Mama Melanie was considered a witch.

ABWE missionary Jane Schmitz makes a regular habit of walking part way up the mountain in the area where she lives. Some time ago she noticed a little mud brick house being built. Later, an elderly lady began living there alone. In a communal culture like Togo it is atypical for an elderly lady to live alone. One day, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Jane went to this lady and asked if she was interested in hearing about the Bible. The lady said yes. Still, Jane was curious as to why this woman lived on her own. The response of one neighbor was that this lady had done “bad things”—a reference to the things in the spiritual realm.

In this context, a witch has the power through Satan to take lives as the devil or demons in exchange for the person’s soul and blood of in a mystical way. Supposedly Melanie had claimed to be responsible for the death of some people in her clan. Melanie’s uncle feared for his own family if she stayed with them, so he built her this house so she could be closer to her ancestors.

Through their many talks, Jane shared the gospel a number of times with Mama Melanie (Mama is a respectful term for elderly women in this culture). At one point she confessed that she had demons, but they were no longer with her since her uncle put her through a special ceremony. As she opened up, she shared her discouragement with life and being called a witch. She only wanted to die. After four failed attempts to take her own life, she moved to this little house near the base of the mountain.

She told me she ate cement to try and take her life, but it just made her sick. She stated that God just wants her to stay alive. — Jane Schmitz

She also told Jane that she was a baptized member of a church, but the more she listened to Jane share the truth, the more she realized she had not fully grasped the gospel before. The Lord opened Melanie’s heart to a clearer understanding, and she confessed her faith in Jesus as Savior and found joy again.

Though she suffers a limp from the loss of a toe on her left foot and the aftereffects of a previous stroke, Melanie perseveres through the discomfort to travel to the local church that she regularly attends. The pastor has been teaching her and even her uncle, though it is clear he still has not accepted the gospel. A few of Jane’s friends, after hearing Melanie’s story, wanted to show her the love of the Lord and decided to send money to help her. Jane used some of these funds to purchase a radio with an SD card so Melanie can listen to the Bible in her own language.

Now, when Jane does her routine morning walks up the mountain, she often finds Melanie listening to the radio. Sometimes it’s loud enough for all the neighbors to hear.

Melanie has made it through the Gospels and is continuing through the rest of the New Testament. The power of the gospel transformed this discouraged, depressed, lonely follower of Satan into a hope-filled and joyful servant of the one true king!


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About the Photographer

Hannah Strayer is a media specialist serving in Africa with ABWE. Hannah uses her photography and media skills to share the needs on the field, help missionaries more effectively communicate with supporters, and share the gospel with nationals. Support Hannah’s ministry.

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