Ever Wonder What Religion in Haiti is Like? (Part III)

This final section of my essay focuses on a strategy of evangelism.  Some of you may not like that word, so let me clarify.  I do not condone the bible-beating, hell-fire-and-brimstone methods that currently are used by many fundamentalists.  To me, evangelism is simply a person wanting to share the love of Jesus Christ that was once shared with them, both through word and action.  Many times that sharing leads to some type of response, but evangelism does not require that you force a decision out of someone.  With that said, the following focuses on a couple methods on how to best communicate the Christian faith to people who subscribe to Voodoo.

From 2002-2005, I lived as an educator and a missionary in the country of Haiti.  During my time there, I experienced many things pertaining to the religion of Voodoo.  I experienced successes and failures in attempt to leave a Christian witness with these individuals.  If one were to evangelize a Voodooist in the United States, there would be particular methods that would appear more successful than others. 

One of these methods is mysticism.  Mysticism can be defined simply as the direct experience of God.  Christian mysticism is an important element of the faith, but is often neglected.  Mysticism is also a familiar component to Voodoo, particularly in the area of possession.  This leaves an opportunity for the Christian to convey that God lives inside an individual through the Holy Spirit, thus God in a sense has “possessed” him or her.  Also, teaching the mystical and supernatural elements of the Christian faith, such as healing, tongues, and other “charismatic gifts,” can gain validity to the Voodooist, and prove its potency.  The statement to make to the Voodooist is not, “Let me prove to you that God exists,” but rather, “Let me show you the one true, powerful God.”

Another successful approach would be the use of liberation theology.  Liberation theology’s main contributors came from South America mainly in response to the governmental or societal oppression of the poor.  It preaches that God seeks to deliver and liberate the poor from their strife and oppression.  This approach has already gained influence in Haiti: “…the clergy who, influenced in part by liberation theology movements throughout Latin America, had grown weary of the Duvalier’s thirty-year regime.”  This would be of particular interest to the Voodooist, as its roots are based in liberation of an oppressed people. It would also be significant for a Voodooist to know that both Voodoo and Christianity have roots in revolution and liberation. 

Whether Voodoo is a genuine religion or not, it is a potent influence on many who seek to interpret mystical elements of the world.  Its history is turbulent, with many outside influences causing an ever-increasing evolution.  Discarding this faith as simple “magic,” “mysticism,” or “cultic activity” is failing to recognize its historical roots and its growing impact in the world as an organized faith.  Voodoo should not be the threat that it often portrayed as.  In fact, I would suggest that because of the Voodooist’s openness to the spiritual world, Christians should not fear, but identify a unique opportunity to bring the light of Christ into the Voodoo world.

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One thought on “Ever Wonder What Religion in Haiti is Like? (Part III)

  1. I wrote this essay a couple years ago, and looking back on it I think the final section is a bit of a dud. I can’t recall, but perhaps I was forced to be concise due to the length given by my professor. I hope this was informative nonetheless. Cheers!

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