Standing in the Gap — no.3

— praying for children accused of witchcraft.

“…because of the tender mercy of our God… the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” Luke 1:78–79

Context

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

“In numerous countries worldwide, witchcraft related beliefs and practices have resulted in serious violations of human rights including beatings, banishment, cutting of body parts and amputation of limbs, torture and murder. Women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities, particularly persons with albinism, are particularly vulnerable. Despite the seriousness of these abuses, there is often no robust state led response through the judiciary or elsewhere. Unfortunately this lack of response is also reflected in the Christian church of many countries as well.”

— United Nations (UN) briefing document for the Witchcraft & Human Rights Workshop, 2017

From 21 to 22 September, SCWA was represented by Carolyn Gent and Dr Emilie Secker at the UN workshop on Witchcraft and Human Rights in Geneva. The aim of the workshop was to improve understanding of witchcraft–related beliefs and practices, as well as their impact on human rights, with a view to developing solutions to prevent further abuses from taking place.

This was a momentous occasion that brought child witchcraft accusations under the scrutiny of many who have the opportunity to exert influence at state and judicial level. This influence is needed to help churches to protect children accused of witchcraft and reintegrate them into their communities safely.

Testimony

Carolyn of SCWA commented:

“What an opportunity and privilege to be invited to address the UN Expert Workshop on Witchcraft and Human Rights in the Palais Wilson, Geneva! We were able to share what SCWA and the Church are doing to bring about change with around 100 delegates: academics and practitioners from Africa, Papua New Guinea, India and Europe, and UN and African Commission officials. The passion to end witchcraft accusations and related abuses was palpable and it is hoped that now that the issue is on the UN radar, it will result in a Special Resolution by 2019 (that’s how long it takes!) which could result in better advocacy and on pressure on governments to do more to protect children (and adults) from the harm caused by being branded as witches.  It was also exciting to be able to connect with others who are working on the issue, with a view to sharing ideas, good practice and collaboration. Praise God for opening this door!”

"…because of the mercy of our God… the rising sun will …guide our feet into the path of peace." Luke 1:78–79

Thank God

  • Praise God that, in his mercy, he has sent his son to be a light to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death. No–one is overlooked or rejected by God’s mercy.
  • We can praise God that he guides our feet into the path of peace. May the contributions of the experts at the Witchcraft & Human Rights workshop — particularly those speaking on behalf of faith-based organisations — have a wide–reaching impact, as God guides us all into the path of peace.

Please Pray

  • For the vision of the workshop to become a living reality in communities where witchcraft is currently causing most abuse and harm, including in nations such as DRC, Togo and Nigeria, where SCWA is already at work.
  • Please pray that as we understand better the beliefs and practices relating to witchcraft, through the work of SCWA and its partners, we can actively stand in the gap for children and communities broken by accusations of witchcraft.
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