International Ministries

Please Don't Name a Hippo After Me

December 9, 2013 Journal
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“Those are the Dan Fountain hippos,” said our guide Tata Babylon as he canoed us around the bend in the river. I smiled to myself at the interesting way of paying tribute to Dr. Dan Fountain. Hippos are the only large African wildlife around the Vanga area.

Later, we found out the rest of the story...

You see, it wasn't actually a way of paying tribute....it was an expression of the animistic culture to which we will be going. When something unexpected or unexplainable happens in the villages, the obvious interpretation is that either someone became an animal and caused the event OR someone has put a curse on their enemy. For example, when the Ebola outbreak occurred in 1995, the epicenter was 75km upstream from Vanga. It was widely believed that Dr. Fountain had become a hippo, swam up the river, and caused the outbreak.

Cancer or a Curse or Both

While we were in Vanga during a medical missions trip in October, Dr. Alleluia, one of the residents in the family medicine residency program became deathly ill with multiple myeloma, a kind of blood cancer. The medical students from the hospital went to Dr. Alleluia's village to demand that the chief find out who put the curse on Dr. Alleluia and to ask him to remove it.

Our Need for Prayer

Most of the cultures around the world place a high importance on the spiritual realm. The culture and worldview of much of the Western world is at a great disadvantage because we fail to even consider the role of the spiritual element in life. Although we can learn from the Congolese to consider the spiritual foundations of health and disease, we must keep everything in line with Scripture.

As we move to Vanga, we keenly sense our total dependence on God to guide us in bringing the light of Truth and the power of the Gospel into situations such as these. We covet your prayers as we engage with those whose world view is so different from ours.