It ‘s not uncommon for Malaysians to dabble in spiritism. We hear stories all the time of how this person or that person saw a medium or a bomoh (shaman) for help to solve a problem or to get a benefit.
The most common story we hear is that of people who go to cemeteries to “speak” with spirits to get numbers to buy lottery tickets. So far, I haven’t heard of anyone who won a lottery through that means! May be, they did, but I haven’t heard of it.
A friend, however, told me of how she located her schizophrenic cousin — who had gone missing — by getting the help of a medium or some one like that who, by the way — when he is not “mediating” — earns an honest living with a full-time job. He may just have the gift of “seeing”.
Another friend shared how her ex-husband had put a charm on her that caused her to spend terror-filled sleepless nights. She countered it be getting the help of an Indian shaman who told her that as a result of the charm, there was another person in her house who was putting her in fear. The shaman did something over her and she told me “I could see needles moving under my skin!”
I was unfazed by her story because I was wondering, “Why does she have to go through all this trouble when all you need to do is just pray!” Apparently the shaman was successful because a few months later, she remarried and relocated.
It isn’t only for personal problems that people go to shamans. Apparently, some of these people are corporate leaders and politicians. It is common to see little shrines at businesses, which are regularly served with fruit and other food offerings. Several years ago there was this case of a politician who was cut up by a bomoh and her partner. The latter two were arrested, charged for murder, tried in court and convicted. Both were executed.
The practice of seeking the help of these “other powers to be” goes on around us although I don’t know how widespread the activities are.
As Christians, how do we live with these influences?
The first thing to do is to become aware that such powers are operating in our midst. If we are ignorant of what other people do, that, in a way, is bliss. Our ignorance is our protection. But, our ignorance also means that these powers can continue unobstructed.
With awareness comes the responsibility of decision. That’s the second step we need to take. As Christians, we have to discern if these powers are for or against us. Jesus says in the Gospels, “for whoever is not against us is for us”. (Luke 9:50; Mark 9: 40) As Christians, if we are in any way associated with a person or an organisation which engages or has engaged in spiritism, but that association does not obstruct our faith nor our practices within the limits of mutual respect for co-existence, we are in the clear.
But, if these forces are against us, we need to know if we are making compromises in submission to these “other powers”. We know these forces are against us because we would be unable to exercise faith and do and support what is right and act in God’s will. Then, we go against the First Commandment — we treat these powers as God, and, in doing so, our transgression will be dealt with in the same way God deals with all our transgressions.
We need to understand that these forces are not the antithesis of God. They are not equal with Him. We can deal with them because God has given us faith in Him to counter these forces. These forces become powerless when we, by faith, do not submit to them. They are powerful only to those who submit to them. Their power is revealed when their practitioners do wrong and get away with it while others who oppose them suffer. To not submit, we may have to remove ourselves from that association by faith. When we do that, we save ourselves and those dear to us.
History shows that no specific human act of ill-will has ever continued in perpetuity. All the terrible leaders of the past like Hitler were stopped. From our own personal experience we know that wrongs end at some point. Wrong-doing will not continue indefinitely. God acts; He always does at some point. When He does, these powers will be routed but it would be far worse for Christians found in their clutches because they have been warned.