Rod & Ellie's July Update                                                                            View this email in your browser
Dear Friends
After the last episode with the so called 'Sacred Tree' of Inhaminga,
town was quiet again. For a while, at least.

The said tree is a Baobab, growing near to the classrooms at the Secondary School. After the recent cyclones that brought down many trees onto buildings, the ministry of education issued a directive to cut off the big branches of any trees that could fall on buildings. This was done, unleashing a state of fear. After all, this was the ‘sacred spirit tree’ that housed the spirits of deceased ancestors. Students started fainting in class and manifesting demons. Strange voices cried out, “Why have you chopped down our home?” Our Team was called in and joining with other Inhaminga church leaders, got right in with the Word of God, praying for people and setting them free from demons. Pastor Mariano led this time of teaching, prayer and deliverance.

A couple of weeks later, the tree started sprouting again, as trees do. Once more students begin to faint and manifest demons with shaking and writhing. The town fell into an uproar; fear spread like a plague. The local witch-woman had threatened to do something worse and had returned to the tree to offer sacrifices, now trouble had increased. This time there was no way forward, the size of the Baobab tree and the depths of the roots encircled by those of a mango tree made removing it an impossibility. Not only that, there was nobody courageous enough to cut down the tree. Nobody, that is, other than those who believe that the Name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit is greater than that of false gods.


The local government turned to the only people they knew to be fearless, the Afrika Wa Yesu Team led by the intrepid Joseph or Joseffa, alias Rodney. Pastor Mariano was called in and the request laid out. “We need your help. We do not know what to do. Whatever you have to do, do it, please help us.”

Rod and Pastor Mariano fortified everyone in the Word and prayer and called for those who were willing and ready for the task to get onto Big Foot (DAF 4X4 ex NATO Truck). There were many willing and able, and together with some other church leaders in Inhaminga, we readied to put the devil to shame.

The police cordoned off the roads all around to prevent entrance to anyone but the Afrika Wa Yesu Team. The witch-woman walked past, trying to see what was going on, the police chased her off. People stood all around, afar off, convinced that some of the Team would be badly injured and some die. After all, the demons must be hopping mad by now.

What an exercise of faith, ingenuity and hard work. Three days of 10 – 12 hours daily, and the job is done. The men dug and dug, chopped and pulled. Rod in and out of Big Foot, up and down, clutch, accelerator, clutch, accelerator, clutch, accelerator. Chain breaks, try again, chain breaks, try again, Now! Put on breaks! Stop! Back, PULL! FINALLY THE TREE FELL, but it took two more days to dig out the roots, saw the trunk and carry it away with the branches.

Friends, the men who worked on this project showed much courage, they too were raised with the same traditional fears of the spirits. Working at Afrika Wa Yesu has brought them a long way as they constantly receive ministry. Even so, one of the guys who climbed to the top confessed;

When I climbed that tree for the third time, I began to be afraid, thinking, What if I start manifesting demons while I am up there? I will fall out the tree. During the night I kept waking up to see if I was still OK, but I am fine, nothing wrong with me!”

~ John B Putman Jr.

The pictures and captions tell a little of the story.

Thank you for your participation in our lives, where not one day is the same as the other!

Rod & Ellie
And all at Afrika Wa Yesu

Inhaminga Secondary School where the 'Demon Tree' tormented students.

Chopping at the roots, complicated by the roots of a mango tree that had grown alongside the Baobab tree. “See how the roots are entangled, these trees are married,” said one. Complicated further by the fact that the roots had grown into a sewer, wrapping around cement blocks.

Who will climb up to tie the chain around the girth so it can be pulled down by Big Foot?” This would not be an easy task, the huge diameter had to be circled from branch to branch, far from each other. No safety equipment here in Inhaminga. To me, it looked like a top circus artist would be needed to do the job. Rod drove Big Foot close to the trunk and balanced the tallest ladder on the truck against the tree. 

The 7.5 diametre tree measured 15.5 metres tall from ground level to where the branches had previously been cut at the top.

Without hesitation, Salmo and Rocha started climbing. As far as the ladder went, then onto the tree, up 10 meters, with very little to hold onto. Each sitting on a branch, they balanced while passing the steel cable around the tree from on to the other. No safety equipment, we don’t have any! They had to do that three times as first the steel cable and then the chain broke when Rod started pulling.

Links need strengthening, knots in the chain need to be undone.

Grim determination, never give up! The tree is sloping the wrong way, we cannot let it fall on the building! We can do it!

No going home for lunch, we’ll cook and eat right here.

After 10 hours of hard labour, The Demon Tree Falls!
What a shout, what a roar of victory!

More than conquerors!

Still, the roots need to be dug out. The trunk must be sawn into moveable pieces, and carried off the school territory.

Branches must be carried away, can’t leave them for the demons to sit on.

Fire in the hole. Traditionally, anyone renouncing witchcraft brings their fetishes to be burnt. The remaining roots must burn!

Comments from Local Residents 

One cannot know the people without knowing what they say in their conversations to one another. Here’s some of what they are saying.

"Joseph has saved Inhaminga. He is a lion and we must choose him to be our governor.”

"Today we have seen the people delivered from oppression from the kingdom of darkness. Joseffo is our father, he must never leave from here.”

The God of Joseffo has destroyed the evil, Joseffo is our hero.”

Daniel received a phone call.“Daniel! You are at the tree? You are helping to cut it down? You must get away from there! If you don’t you will die there Danny.”

Yes I am here, yes I am helping.”

You were sent by Joseph? I’m telling you, you will die there. Those demons are powerful!”

No I was sent by God, not by Joseph. He gave us a choice to come, but I am here because God sent me!”

The witch-woman said: "Joseffa has destroyed my power and cut off my head."

Baobab Facts

Traditionally, this mystical tree that is believed to be the home of ancestral spirits. Thus sacrifices of maize meal and other foods are brought to the tree and ceremonially offered to the spirits to appease them; to cause them to be satisfied with the people and not bring any harm. Inhaminga, a small village in the heart of the Sofala province surrounded by much tradition and ancestral worship

Folklore tells of how the Baobab complained to the Great Spirit that made it, saying it wanted to be even taller. The Great Spirit ignored it but the Baobab complained so long and hard that the Great Spirit in anger plucked it up by its roots and planted it upside down. This tree has no leaves for nine months of the year, so does indeed look like an upside down tree with its roots sticking into the air.

THE ‘BIG TREE’ near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe 

It is 20 meters high and over 16 meters in circumference. It is not old at 1 500 years, by baobab standards, and it has still got two-thirds of its life expectancy to go. Considering its current size, this is impressive indeed.

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