Idolatry in the West is often subtle, taking the form of addictions, money, power, etc… but in some parts of the world, the ancient forms of idolatry spoken of by the Old Testament prophets are still being practiced, and as people come to the Lord, they literally cast their idols and ritual instruments away from them to be burned!
Daniel Kolenda described for us the atmosphere of curses and idolatry in Afikpo, Nigeria, where he and Reinhard Bonnke preached in October:
We were in a city called Afikpo in Nigeria. It is a remote African village that has been steeped in idolatry, occultism and witchcraft for many generations. The Animists were really the most powerful contingent in the region and also very violent. They had many bizarre and superstitious beliefs that led them to bury and burn people alive for various reasons as well as extremely brutal puberty rites. The witchdoctors kept the people in fear and manipulated and extorted from them through fear. They also were known to kill missionaries, including one top Nigerian bishop who recently came to Afikpo and was killed by the animists who cut him into little cubes.
During five different meetings, Evangelists Reinhard Bonnke and Daniel Kolenda preached the blood of Jesus, repentance, redemption, and actively confronted and broke the curses and idols of the region. Here is part of Kolenda’s account of what happened and its significance:
Every night I called for the people to bring any items associated with idolatry, witchcraft, or occultism to be burned. It’s hard to explain the significance of this. The people are morbidly afraid of the witch-doctors. They believe that if they disrespect these “sacred” items, they will come under a curse or even drop dead. To bring them to be burned publicly is an incredible statement of defiance towards their traditional beliefs and faith towards God. That is what it really is more than anything… a statement; to the people, to the witch-doctors, to the principalities, to God and to themselves, that they are through with these occultic beliefs and practices. It is powerful. This same thing was done in Acts 19 by Paul.
Every night the people brought piles of these items to be burned. The flames would leap 15 feet and higher into the air as these things went up in smoke and then the people would dance until the dust from the field filled the air like a thick fog. The people were rejoicing with great joy that freedom had come to their city.
Following are a picture and video of this momentous event taken by Daniel Kolenda:
The unparalleled freedom that comes through casting aside and even destroying the idols that stand between us and an uninhibited heart-connection to Messiah comes with a joy and lightness that is difficult to imagine until we follow through on our commitment to having no other gods before Him. Is there anything that we have been holding onto that steals our hearts away from devotion to the Lord? Is living wholly for God and receiving true satisfaction and freedom something which is worth exchanging for the bondage and addictions of the idols in our lives? May we take courage from our African brothers and sisters in the Lord, and burn the idols in our lives.