In order to get to Buvuma Island in Lake Victoria, it is necessary to take the only ferry that runs in the entire lake. This is amazing to me, that considering the size of the lake, there is only one of the 52 islands that has a ferry, and that it is this particular island that is just off the coast from Jinja. We had to make an unexpected emergency run back to Jinja in the middle of our ministry on the island, which required us to use ferry1the ferry.

The ferry is a small affair, a deck that sits about 5 feet above the water with a huge engine at each corner and two sitting areas for the passengers lucky enough to be at the front of the line. They load this deck down by driving all manner of vehicles onto it – cars, pickups, vans, small petrol tankers and dump-truck sized transports filled with all kinds of materials. Commerce for this island exists only through this one access road – the ferry – and yes, it is called officially a “road” and is under the UNRA, the Uganda National Road Authority even though it over water. Once we disembark from the ferry, we are not even in Jinja – we are in the lakeside village of Kiyindi with a two and a half hour winding and bumpy ride on dirt roads, often washed out, through the hills back to Jinja. Fortunately, we have now discovered a shortcut, and we can make this journey in less than an hour and a half.

ferry2So we were seated on the ferry pulling away from Buvuma toward Kiyindi. All of us had found seats because it was the first run of the day and the traffic was light. Alfred, our driver, was seated separately from us and had a small story for us when we arrived across the water and got back into the car to disembark from Kiyindi.

Apparently, sitting opposite him was a very anxious woman. He identified her as a witch doctor or a sorceress by her behavior and by the book she was reading. He noticed that she seemed to immersed in prayer continually throughout the journey, but when he surreptitiously examined the book she was reading, he saw that it was a book of demonic prayers, called “The Kingship of Demons.” Each page was a separate prayer to a different type of demon. This woman seemed to be thumbing through the book and stopping at particular pages, at which time she would read the prayer just under her breath.

It was evident to him that perhaps she was very afraid of the water because each page seemed to be a water-related demon. He was able to read in the Luganda language, “The Demon of the Lake,” “The Demon of the Boat on the Lake,” “The King of the Lake,” ”The Demon of the Rocks of the Lake,” and very many other similar names. She would stop her page-turning long enough to mouth the prayer on a particular page. During the entire voyage of over an hour, she remained in this concentrated state, rhythmically tapping her feet together as if to emphasize her prayers.

Alfred observed that he had never seen such a book and was surprised to see it actually being used as a prayer book. But this validated his

Island Ferry - only way to the island. I wish I could say it looks smaller than it is...

Island Ferry – only way to the island. I wish I could say it looks smaller than it is…

opinion inherent in his Ugandan culture that these people, the pagan witch-doctors who vehemently oppose the Christians, even trying to tempt them into sin or place curses on them even unto death, are serious people who take their demon-worship seriously. He wondered if he should try to share Christ with her, but upon reflection, decided that interrupting what was obviously an intense devotion might not be in his best interests. After all, we were in the middle of the lake, and he, himself is not so comfortable with crossing all this water

I would observe that these typical Africans seem to know and experience something which most Americans deny even the existence of. But the average Ugandan walks closely enough to this reality that they are aware of both worlds, the Christian and the demonic, and there are some with a compromised faith who practice on both sides, attending church on Sunday to appease the Christian God, and accessing the services of the witch doctors during the week. However, most evangelical Christians (born-agains) have put off such practices, while having a healthy respect for their authenticity.

So, I’m wondering where you buy such a book. Do you walk into the local version of Barnes and Noble and ask for this book of the Demons? Do you have to be a member of a particular book club, like the History Book Club, or the Book of the Month Club – sort of a Demon of the Month Club, or a Demonic Book Club, or even a Witch Doctors Literary Society?

This all brings home to me a phenomenon I have observed about three blocks from the homes of several of the pastoral leaders I work closely with. The locals have purchased a lot and built a large, shrine-like building on it that is designed for witch-doctor gatherings, trainings, and ceremonies. I have watched this building being constructed over the last three years. Now it is complete and they are beginning to use it. Yesterday we noticed as we drove past it to drop off one of the pastors that the building had a broken window on the second story. I wondered what kind of foolish person you have to be to throw rocks at a building meant to house demon-worship. Or, perhaps, the window was broken from the inside…