Holy Man Crusades against Voodoo Forces; MISSION: Minister Will Preach Christian Message to the Islanders Who Believe in Witch Doctors

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), September 17, 2002 | Go to article overview

Holy Man Crusades against Voodoo Forces; MISSION: Minister Will Preach Christian Message to the Islanders Who Believe in Witch Doctors


Byline: ROBIN TURNER

AS FAR as missionary work goes, it is up there with the most difficult of destinations.

The Rev Brian Harris will face dangers from voodoo, gun crime, leprosy, Q fever and anthrax when he swaps his comfortable life in Swansea for an evangelical mission to Haiti.

The 56-year-old minister at the independent Spring Terrace Tabernacle Chapel in Townhill has been invited to the poverty-stricken Caribbean island by Baptist church leaders.

Voodoo witch doctors known as hougans or mambos, wearing feathered hats and using effigies to supposedly gain power over enemies, are widespread in the country.

Mr Harris will start his three-month mission early next year.

Around 65pc of people in Haiti still practise or believe in voodoo.

In many quarters it is accepted as an important element of local culture, often being used to heal illnesses.

But it has also been used to exert political and economic power with the most feared practices being the making of zombies and the forced induction of innocent into wild sexual orgies.

Mr Harris said yesterday, ``I will be going as an evangelist acting in concert with local church pastors.

``The aim is to show local people they are not forgotten by Christians elsewhere, that the `good news' is for them too and that the chains of voodoo and witch doctors can be broken.

``I will also be visiting orphanages run by churches for rescued street children and others. ``This country is the poorest in the western hemisphere with tremendous needs, in sharp contrast to its neighbour, the tourist-dominated Dominican Republic which shares the same island.

``Voodoo is rife. Many people in Britain are aware of it as depicted in film and popular fiction but it is not a fiction to those living in fear for themselves and their families and whose lives are blighted by it.''

Mr Harris's trip is being paid for in part by Swansea communications firm Any Mobile Phones Ltd.

The minister is industrial chaplain to the 50-strong workforce based in Swansea's city centre.

He plans to make a video diary of his trip to Haiti with the aim of highlighting social and other problems there. He said, ``I hope it will alert people to the fact that people in Haiti need our help.'' Swansea-born Mr Harris was a marketing executive for a multinational company operating in the UK and America in the 1980s when he decided to give it all up to work for the church. …

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