The truth that sets us free

Faced with a chronic stomach ailment that no doctor could diagnose or cure, Bathy Tuelekeje turned to a sangoma (African “witchdoctor”) for help. This brought temporary relief, but cost Bathy his freedom – his life was now controlled by the witchdoctor. In this testimony Bathy bears witness to the love and truth by which he later regained his health and freedom.

I was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo into a family of nine. I am the sixth child, after two boys and three girls. After me came two more boys and one girl. My parents and grandparents were Roman Catholics. So we all grew up in the Roman Catholic Church.

I completed my primary and high school with excellent results. After matriculating from the Catholic Seminary, I left my province, Kananga, and went to the capital city, Kinshasa, with the idea that I might continue my studies at university. Then, for five years, I forgot about my original plans and I went up and down with all the women of Kinshasa instead.

When my mind came back to reason, I commenced my studies, but found it very difficult. I was spoilt by my wealthy uncle who always gave me more money than I asked for. I hardly completed four years of undergraduate studies and was too restless to continue. I had my eyes and mind fixed on life overseas, in Europe or America.

Everything I did to get a study permit for overseas was a failure. I tried for five years, then accepted government work at the ministry of Arts and Culture. At the same time I taught mathematics at a high school.

In 2003 when another uncle died, I was given the responsibility to look after his three children, his wife and the possession he had left them. When I saw that it was not the type of life I wanted, I secretly left Kinshasa and came to South-Africa. This move was not easy for me. I did not know anyone to go to and had no money to live on. But as God is merciful and good, even to those who have not yet decided to follow Him, I found myself in a stranger’s house in Hillbrow (Johannesburg). A Zimbabwean man who was working as a night watchman at a hotel, had taken me in. This man took care of me as his own son, to the point that some suspect that I am lying or exaggerating when I speak of it, not knowing how the power of God’s love can work – even through a Zimbabwean!

A week later I met an unknown Congolese family who offered for me to stay with them without payment for one month. During that time I was forced to go out in the streets of Johannesburg to see what I could do to survive. Among the many things I did, I remember handing out pamphlets for R15.00 a day, and selling goods for others for R120.00 a week. One year later, I could buy myself a shirt and a jersey and pay my own rent.

It was at this time that I got very sick with severe stomach aches. I often went to the Clinic where they could not find anything wrong. After two years they grew tired of me at the Clinic and sent me to Johannesburg Hospital. There I went through all the examinations: blood, urine, x-rays, and still they could find nothing wrong. I knew that I was about to die, because I had lost all my weigh and was too sick to eat. I decided to stop visiting the hospitals, and to go to church instead. I became a regular visitor to a Congolese church in Hillbrow, named ‘’YAHWHE SHAMMA’’, which has a prayer meeting every morning from Monday to Friday between 8 and 9 AM. Though I was not absent from any of these, the sickness was getting worse. On confiding in the pastor, he advised me: “Brother, the way you are explaining your situation, this everyday prayer of yours cannot help you; we have to change strategies of praying”. I was discouraged and asked myself whether I should stand on my head before God would hear me? I stopped going to the meetings and prayed at home. But praying on my own without believing in the son of the Living God did not help me to get relief from suffering.

In the meantime the Muslim caretaker of my building rebuked me for resigning myself to death and doing so little about it. She recommended a man commonly known as “Sangoma” who had often helped her in the past. At first I refused, but she persisted and I gave in. Sangoma explained that before I came to South-Africa, I went to a party at Kinshasa and some of my father’s relatives put poison in my food; this is why I got sick. If I had not come to see him, he said, I would have continued to ail and slowly die. He then took some roots of a tree and boiled it. He gave me two litres of that mixture and when I took it, I felt relieved.

Unfortunately the cure was just enough for two months and I was obliged to go back to him. I carried on like that for almost one year and a half until I became his slave. One day in 2007, a friend of the Muslim caretaker invited me to attend a Bible study. I enjoyed it and carried on attending and gradually my faith matured. What impressed me was the humbleness of the man of faith who was teaching, his easy way of presenting the truth of the Bible, using only scriptures from the Bible. When I explained my situation to him, he encouraged me by explaining that God often allows suffering to cause people to start seeking after Him. He took the Bible and explained to me from the scriptures that sin is the root of all sickness and that God has provided the way to receive forgiveness, and what Christians should do when they are ill. The verses we read are in James 5:14-16: “Are any of you ill? You should send for the church elders, who will pray for them and rub olive oil on them in the name of the Lord. This prayer made in faith will heal the sick; the Lord will restore them to health, and the sins they have committed will be forgiven. So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has a powerful effect”.

When I got back to my place, I threw away what was left of the Sangoma’s medicine and I prayed. I resolved that I would never go back to that man, and so the true healing began. My health improved, but sometimes I would have those severe stomach problems again. God’s healing can either be immediate or a gradual process that can take as long as He wants. By faith, I later again asked the elders of our congregation to pray for me. And today I am completely healed and I am very glad and thankful to our Lord Christ-Jesus and to his true servants who teach the true biblical faith.

I now understand that when our God heals, He heals us totally (not only physically) so that we may be sanctified and equipped to serve Him for His Kingdom. Today I am employed as a teacher of Mathematics and Physical Science in the North-West Province. But I also desire to teach others God’s truth – and He has already provided some opportunities for this.

To conclude my testimony, I would like to tell those who would like to choose to follow the Messiah Jesus, that the most important goal of our faith should never be to receive physical healing or to get a well-paid job, but to receive eternal life in His everlasting Kingdom. And we must know as Matthew 19:26 states, that “This is impossible for human beings, but for God everything is possible”. In this confidence we have just to trust God, who may heal us as in the case of Peter (Acts 12) or allow us to die prematurely as in the case of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:10). The only thing that matters in the end is that we are receiving “the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:3-9).

Barthelemy Mupemba Tuelekeje