Ake Agosse stepped out of his round earthen house and gazed with pride at his village of Tsave, Togo. As chief, he watched over the people in these miniature castles of red clay and straw with their cone-shaped roofs. The harvest festival of Gbagba would begin soon.
Ake gathered the 250-300 villagers in the central courtyard to celebrate. In traditional costumes, people sang, and dancers churned up dust to the beat of drums. They worshiped their animistic deities and voodoo idols with passion.
Voodoo and Islam
Among the traditional African religions practiced by at least a third of the people of Togo, Voodoo (Vodun) is the most prevalent. Much of the religion is considered “white magic,” in which the spirit world is contacted to gain favors like good health, prosperous crops, and peace. As chief of the Ewe tribe, Ake Agosse remained faithful to his ancestral beliefs.
Traders introduced Islam to West Africa in the 9th century. Although estimates vary significantly, about 14% of Togolese peoples are Muslim. Nearly every tribe and community in the nation has a Muslim population. Consequently, the competition and blending of religious views and practices in the region have brought confusion.
ANM ministry partner Kodjo Bossou is the director of African Kids Evangelism Ministry near the city of Lomé, Togo’s capital. His school of 1,200 students saw more than 300 commitments to Christ at the end of January. Kodjo and his pastors have also planted churches in Djagble, Nyamtougoukope, and now Tsave.
Tsave is situated about two hours north of Lomé. Pastor Daniel is Kodjo’s pastor in Nyamtougoukope but was born in Tsave. Last year, Daniel asked Kodjo if he could take the gospel to his home village. They prayed and asked God for direction. A couple of months later, Daniel took a team to Tsave to visit 70-year-old Ake.
As Daniel and his team sat in Ake’s mud hut and exchanged stories, the chief admitted that, while he does his best to settle arguments and promote peace among his people, Voodoo practices and Islam fail to bring him peace.
This confession opened the door for Daniel to tell him about Jesus, the Prince of Peace. By the end of the day, Ake and six of his elders had accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.
A New Beginning
Ake permitted Daniel to evangelize door-to-door in Tsave for one month, and the pastor did just that. Daniel filled a 15-passenger van — bought with the help of ANM and The Point, a church in Charlottesville, Virginia — and drove members from Djagble church to preach the gospel.
Four weeks later, on a Saturday evening, the village was called again to the common courtyard. Instead of an animistic/Voodoo ritual with Islamic overtones, they had a church service. Daniel’s team showed the film Jesus of Nazareth, translated into the Ewe language, and afterward offered a call for salvation. Ake watched 108 of his people put their faith in Jesus.
Today, a weekly church meets and is taught the simple truth of the Bible. Confusion is being replaced by confidence in the one true God.