by Bill Rudge
In the midst of coup attempts, embargoes, political upheaval, excessive poverty, and oppression from voodoo, God’s Spirit still moved in a powerful way. The following are excerpts of an actual encounter with a voodoo witch doctor including details supplied by other eyewitnesses. These well-documented experiences occurred during five mission trips to Haiti.
He was known to be the meanest man in the community…a killing machine who murdered and tortured many people through voodoo. His name was Jacques, the voodoo priest (more popularly known as the witch doctor). I met him in Haiti during my first outreach there. He was living with a woman near the Mission Possible compound.
Except for what Leila, my interpreter who was serving as a missionary in Haiti, told me, I knew little about Jacques when we first met. Leila told me that a few years earlier Jacques had been preparing to sacrifice a baby when she intervened and rescued the child from his arms.
Another account involved Idelette, a beautiful Haitian girl, who worked at the mission compound. Her mother was seriously involved in voodoo with her boyfriend Jacques, the witch doctor, and was quite upset that Idelette was working at a Christian mission where she would reveal Jacques’ voodoo secrets. This also greatly angered Jacques.
One day, those at Mission Possible heard awful blood curdling screams and voodoo drums. Some of the missionaries looked over the mission compound wall and saw that Jacques had tied up Idelette naked to a chair and was beating her and using hot charcoal to burn the religious spirit out of her. He cut her head with a machete and tried to force her to drink a cup of animal blood and denounce Jesus. She would not denounce Him!
I asked why they did not intervene. I was told that it was unlawful to interfere with a voodoo ceremony and they were afraid the voodoo practitioners would come and machete everyone to death in the mission compound.
Again, I was hearing firsthand about the paralyzing power of darkness. Yet I knew through Scripture and years of personal experience that the power of God is greater. The awesome, transforming power of God is what this story is all about.
Jacques and I met for only an hour that day, but it was enough to plant the seeds of God’s powerful truth in Jacques’ mind. I asked probing questions about voodoo; he remained elusive. So I turned instead to sharing my testimony of how God changed my life.
I felt great compassion for him from the Lord. God’s Spirit was leading me to share the love of Christ gently with him rather than to come on too strong. So I said it in love, but it was bold. I declared to him that the spirits which gave him power and information were not gods but demons. I warned him that when the spirits, which he thought he controlled, had no more use for him, they would discard him like garbage. “When they do,” I said, “the only One who is powerful enough to help you is Jesus Christ. So call on Him!” Jacques said he was not ready to give his life to Christ, but he did want me to pray for him.
The seeds of truth were planted. During the following two years they were watered by Bettie, director of Mission Possible, who greeted Jacques with “Jesus loves you!” whenever they met. The Lord was working on Jacques’ hardened heart to the point that when Bettie told him I was coming back to Haiti he got excited! Shortly after I arrived, Jacques came to the mission compound at night to see me.
I brought a team of seven people with me during this second outreach to Haiti. We spoke at several churches and schools, including remote mountain schools that few missionaries ever get to. We ministered hut to hut in several villages and delivered thousands of pounds of food to many mountain communities. This was also the appointed time for Jacques’ conversion.
The day after we arrived I went to Jacques’ hut with several team members. I stood face to face talking to him as Rosemond, the interpreter, stood to the side of us. Jacques towered over me by almost a foot. I shared with him from Revelation 20:11-15 that unless he gave his life to Jesus Christ and his name was written in the Book of Life he would be separated from God’s presence for eternity.
After sharing for a little while longer, I told him I would come back the same time tomorrow and we would have a Bible study together. I did not want to push him too fast, but he called me back to pray. I believe he had cast many spells on me during the past two years, but when he saw they were ineffective and that I had courage and love from the Lord, he wanted to know the God I served. So during the prayer I mentioned the power of Christ being greater than the power of voodoo and renounced Jacques’ past voodoo involvement—all of which he sincerely repeated after me.
By this time Jacques’ hut was surrounded by people who were peering in—some of the men had hateful glares on their faces. Their eyes seemed enflamed with anger.
During this whole ordeal I was focused on Jacques and aware of little else. Things were unfolding so quickly and happening spontaneously as some team members were praying and others were playing with the children to keep them occupied. My wife later told me that she started to pray outside the hut when suddenly a strong evil presence almost knocked her over. She started to quote Scripture and a peace came over her. She prayed a hedge of protection around the hut and all of us.
Jacques led me into an inner room of his hut where all his voodoo items were kept. He lit a candle in this dark room and began to gather all the voodoo pictures, fetishes, leaves, and other items to burn. The Spirit of God was so powerful in that little room that I said to the others, “Get on your knees.” Simultaneously myself, Jacques, Rosemond, and two team members who had just joined me fell to our knees as I prayed a prayer to dedicate Jacques’ hut to the Lord.
Jacques was gathering up the voodoo items and taking them outside to burn. By now almost 100 villagers were gathered outside the hut. Jacques went back in his hut and even brought out the stand his voodoo materials were on. Rosemond got some dried grass and found a neighbor with a lighter and burned them.
Jacques went back in the hut and dug up some bottles. An inverted cross in his yard was burned. Jacques even pulled out an aloe vera plant he used for herbal medicine and spells and cast it into the fire.
I have never felt God’s power so great. It was like a chapter out of the book of Acts. Through the interpreter I said to the people gathered in a large circle around the burning voodoo items near Jacques’ hut, “You may want to know what has happened this day. The God who created the heavens and the earth has revealed Himself to Jacques and Jacques has given Him his life.”
My daughter Tabitha and another female team member saw two men with machetes and one man with a lead pipe run over. Their nostrils flared and their eyes were inflamed with rage and hatred. I am sure Satan’s plan was for them to kill me, the interpreter, and Jacques, and thereby put an end to all of this, but God protected us. Besides, His presence was so real that I had no fear at all.
After finishing my message and sharing the truth and reality of Christ and their need to accept Him, I said, “All who want to have the courage Jacques had to accept Christ, raise your hand.” I raised mine and so did all of my team members, as well as most of the women, all of the children, and some of the men. But still many men stood there with hate in their eyes.
I knew Jacques might be greatly persecuted or even killed, so I told the people that I would hold a Bible study the next day at the same time. I went to the two meanest looking men and said that I hoped they would come. They said they would.
Bettie later told me that the whole village and community were talking about it. Later that night Jacques came to the mission compound on his own and joined in the singing. Everyone at the mission compound praised and thanked the Lord for the tangible miracle He brought through Jacques that day.
The next day we went to Jacques’ hut and had a Bible study. It went well. Pastor Boisrond of the Salvation Army who interpreted for me said he would help disciple Jacques when I returned to the U.S. After Bible study, I had our group split into three teams, each group with its own interpreter. We went into the nearby villages to minister and all had great experiences.
Jacques told us that God began dealing with his heart two years ago, after I initially talked to him. Then when I came back to Haiti, he made his final decision to give his life to Christ when he burned everything. Bettie said this was the greatest miracle they had seen that year.
We learned that several days earlier, Jacques had been given thirty-five dollars to perform a voodoo ceremony for someone. But when he converted, he said he would not do it and that he would pay back the thirty-five dollars. Jacques is a changed man.
A fax from Bettie to the Mission Possible headquarters in Florida titled, “Witch Doctor Saved In Haiti,” stated—
The air was thick and heavy as the bonfire burned brightly behind the compound. The gods of voodoo were being burned up. For miles around, people were talking and gathering toward the site of the fire. He’s been converted! After hearing this report of the dreaded witch doctor Jacques Innocent, some came to the place with great joy, others with machetes. What a miracle!
The last time Bill Rudge was here was two years ago. At that time he asked me to get him an interview with the witch doctor who sometimes tried to torment us. This man had been known to be vicious, even a killer. Bill asked him some questions, told him that he loved him and so did Jesus, and that he would pray for him. From that time on when I would see him, I would stop and greet him. Sometimes he would respond, other times not.
When Bill came back this week, along with a group, he asked again to see Jacques, so I arranged it. When they met again, Bill talked to him about the Lord. He accepted Jesus with tears of joy. Jacques remembered the man who took time for him. He said that God had been working on him since that time.
The bonfire was his statement to the community that he had made his choice. He burned cards, jugs of potions, beads, feathers, and pictures. The last thing to go was an aloe plant in his yard. He used it for the basis of his potions. When all the things were burned, the power of God was awesome. When our Haitian helpers heard the news, they danced in the kitchen singing, “Jacques is converted! Jacques is converted!”
Jacques stated the following while sharing his testimony in a nearby village:
If there are any of you who do not know me, it is because you have not been here long. This was my district as a witch doctor. You looked to me as your god, but I am here to tell you that I am not your god. Then he pointed his hand toward heaven and said: “My God and your God is up there.” He proceeded to share what happened to him and how his conversion has affected his life.
Right after his testimony at one of the villages, a man came up and said that he wanted what Jacques had. Not long thereafter, when the Gospel was shared with Jacques’ mother, she responded by indicating that she wanted what Jacques had, as she had observed the change in her son.
One of the men who had a machete and wanted to kill us during Jacques’ conversion became a believer in Christ after several years of watching the change in Jacques’ life. I have no doubt that Jacques’ conversion has touched many lives in Haiti and there will be many Haitians in heaven as a result.
Since his conversion, Jacques has endured much suffering for the name of Christ. He has gone through many difficulties, but continues to be faithful because the truth of God’s Word has set him free and the love and power of Christ, which are greater than anything he had known before, sustain him.
During my fifth outreach to Haiti, more than ten years after Jacques’ conversion, Bruce Lozier was one of the team members who went with me. It was a powerful trip in the midst of much turmoil and danger during which Jacques traveled with us to minister. Bruce writes:
During Jacques’ testimony, he told of some dreams that he had. One was before he came to know the Lord and one he had after coming to know the Lord as Savior. The first dream was that a white missionary was going to come to share the good news of Jesus Christ with him. In the dream, he was told that if he did not accept Jesus as Lord he would soon die. One day this dream was fulfilled when the Bill Rudge ministry team returned to Haiti and Bill had the blessed opportunity to lead Jacques to Jesus Christ. This was the beginning of a lifelong friendship between these two men as well.
The second dream that Jacques shared was that Satan came to him and told him that he was going to make him a very wealthy man, but first he had to denounce Christ and serve Satan. As proof of his allegiance to Satan, he had to thrust his hand through a dark hole. Jacques refused and his response was that he was through with all of that and he said, “I serve Jesus now.”
I had heard many stories about Jacques before coming to Haiti and I was elated to get to know him and hear him give his testimony. I was greatly encouraged to see how God turned this man’s life around.
It seems like only yesterday that we met Jacques when he was steeped in voodoo and occultic superstitions. Truly, God has changed his life. Many other amazing things have happened as a result of Jacques’ conversion, but are too numerous to share in this article. God’s grace and power continue to touch lives that have been bound in darkness with the light of His Gospel.
I have also had encounters with many other voodoo witch doctors on their turf. The power of Christ has always proven superior, and the love of Christ has always touched their hearts in some way.