There are so many practices and beliefs in the Pentecostal movement that is directly opposed to the Christian faith. One of such is the beliefs in Ogbanje. Those days I was a pastor in the Pentecostal we often prayed and cast out ogbanje spirit from people who we believe are possessed with Ogbanje spirit. A times we often saw visions that some persons were possessed with this evil spirit and we would begin to pray over them, laying hands on them and casting out this evil spirit out of them.
What or who is Ogbanje? I would like to explain that before I continue. An Ogbanje is a word in Igbo language for a child who is believed to be covenanted with a kind of evil spirit that deliberately attacks a family to cause them constant death of their children. It is generally believed that these evil spirits seek to live on earth but since they lack human body, they may possess a child form the womb and this child always die before the age of 10-15 (usually before puberty). When they die, they enter the womb of their mother again and are reborn and upon reaching the same age they die. Such children are called Ogbanje. The word Ogbanje in Igbo language literally means “children who come and go” or “sparks that do not last”. It describes that a particular child has an evil covenant form the marine kingdom not to last on earth, and that upon reaching a particular age they will return to the marine kingdom from where they come. (You can read more of the belief in Ogbanje here).
Ogbanje in English Language comes very close to the superstitious story of “changelings.”
Now, who can believe that such a superstitious belief would be tolerated in the Christian faith, especially among those who claim to be full of the Holy Ghost?
The belief in Ogbanje is still believed among the Pentecostals and Charismatics in the whole of Nigeria. Pentecostal churches usually have a particular day they call “Faith clinic” or “Deliverance hour.” The churches choose any of weekdays. When I was in the Pentecostal movement my day for “Deliverance hour” was Tuesday between 9AM -4PM and we conduct deliverance for over 30 persons many of whom are from Catholics and other Pentecostal churches. Before we had pray for 10 people you would hear “I command you ogbanje spirit to come out of this lady! Come out ogbanje spirit! I break your covenant in this life and I cast you back to the marine kingdom from where you came in Jesus’ name!” I would not be wrong to say that 45% out of those who visit Pentecostal ministries and churches for “deliverance” are possessed with ogbanje spirit, especially those under the age of 15 years who were brought by their parents for “deliverance” prayers to be made for them. Of course, those who usually bring their children for “deliverance” are mothers who have suffered constant deaths of children who repeatedly died before they reached the age 12-15.
Since the government started advising people to go for blood group test before marriage, the rate of child death has fallen rapidly. There is hardly such case of a particular couple having repeated death of children not crossing the age of 13. It has been discovered that the death of children was caused by “sickle cell anaemia”. Most men with SS got married with women with SS and their children never cross the age of puberty. But since the blood group test was introduced into the rural areas, this has stopped. Yet, we in the Pentecostals and Charismatics continued “binding and casting out” ogbanje spirits out of people. We continued believing in ogbanje superstition. Ever since I left the Charismatic movement, I have tried to correct many of my pastor friends but it is like Lot telling the inhabitants of Sodom that angels had come into their cities to burn it up. They only mock me, and say that whitemen on the internet has brainwashed me with doctrines and theology. They even go as far as saying that I am denying the existence of evil spirits. The truth is that I do not deny in the existence of devils. I do know and believe that devils exist. What I reject is deceiving people with superstitious beliefs!
This belief in Ogbanje directly leads to the superstition of “re-incarnation” because they believe that it is the same child that keeps dying and coming back. Most of the time, these children’s corpse are cut in pieces and buried separately as a way of warning the child not to come into the family again. What wickedness!
A times a new child is born into the same family and to the same couple bearing the exact marks of the matchetwounds, and the marks of all the wounds inflicted upon the previous child. This further strengthens the superstition of “Ogbanje” in the Pentecostal churches till today.
In the Pentecostal when we prayed for these “Ogbanje” people and “cast out” the demon from them, they fall backward, scream, shout and bark for some 10-15 minutes rolling on the floor. Then we conclude that the demon is out. And of course, we sometimes see the “supposed demon” fleeing out of them. But the truth is that both we who prayed for these Ogbanje people and the Ogbanje people for whom we prayed, none of us had what the bible calls “sound mind”.
The spirit that gives us the vision that some people were possessed with Ogbanje couldn’t be the Holy Spirit of the God of the bible; the Holy Spirit wouldn’t contradict what he wrote in the bible. The Holy Spirit wrote to us in the Scriptures that “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
The Holy Spirit wouldn’t take the case of death resulting from “sickle cell anaemia” and give it to us as a “revelation” of demonic possession.
I strongly believe that when we leave the bible and follow some “spirits” or some “leadings”, we come up with damnable practices, and when we are confronted with the truth we think the person confronting us is not “spiritual”.
Let us follow the bible, and not some “leadings”; let us stay within the bound of the scriptures.