As children walked past the church with faces and arms painted ashen-white, we asked Dyonah, TLI's national partner in Monrovia, Liberia, who they were. He told us they came from a nearby secret society known for demonic idol worship.
Two years ago when Dyonah's church moved to this area, there were actually two such societies located deep within this secluded forest. They had carved idols out of trees, worshiping them with blood sacrifice and witchcraft. The Poro (male) and Sande (female) Societies were known for bizarre rituals, even female circumcision. Trespassers in the forest, known by locals as a "no-go zone," expected to be captured and imprisoned. But their greatest fear was evil spirits.
Shortly after Dyonah and Grace Life Center moved into the neighborhood in 2016, they decided to engage the community through medical ministry and a Christmas outreach. They distributed food, clothing, and goods to everyone, including those in the societies.
Through these efforts, people in the community heard the gospel and witnessed the tangible love of Christ. Soon thereafter, one of the Sande leaders learned that the congregation was looking for land to purchase. She approached Dyonah, asking if he would be interested in buying part of their property--one acre of deep forest. Previous attempts to sell had failed because buyers were terrified of the evil spirits. It was believed that anyone who cut down the trees on the property would surely die.
But she made an offer to Dyonah: "If your God is able to cast out the evil spirits from the property, then you can buy it." To which he responded, "Yes, of course!"
“If your God is able to cast out the evil spirits from the property, then you can buy it." To which he responded, "Yes, of course!”
After purchasing the land, the church prayed and committed it to Christ's lordship. Finally, the day came for the trees to be cut down. Over 200 people in the community came out to witness the event. To the surprise and amazement of everyone (except for Dyonah and the members of Grace Life Center), no one died.
Soon, some of the families of the secret societies began attending church and came to faith in Christ. Through the impact of their testimony, others in the community have also become believers. The Sande Society has since dissolved and sold the remainder of its property to the church. Not only that, but the Poro Society is considering doing the same.
Today, on this former site of idolatry, blood sacrifice, and demonic ritual stands a place where the one true God is worshiped, where the powerful gospel of grace is proclaimed. It also happens to be a TLI site where 85 pastors and church leaders now come to receive theological training.