“If they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them”



The native witch-doctor and sorcerer fraternity are our relentless enemies. We expose their frauds, deliver their victims, and rob them by our gospel of both income and prestige. These men are expert poisoners. They think nothing of putting their opposers out of the way by a concoction of kimpengele or mwavi bark, or by any one of a dozen less-known deadly roots and fruits that grow everywhere in these forests.

We have evidence that they have tried repeatedly to poison us. One day my chum and I were enjoying a delicious plate of palm-nuts that had been brought to us as a present. We had about finished them when a young man ran up excitedly and whispered, ‘White man, on no account must you eat those palm-nuts, they are poisoned’. We had already eaten them, however. So we knelt and committed ourselves to God, claiming the promise of Mark 16:17-18: ‘These signs shall follow them that believe; if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them”. We felt absolutely no ill effects from the palm-nuts and for years I hesitated to speak of the incident, lest there had been some mistake, and the nuts had not been poisoned. Then I became very friendly with a converted ex-medicine-man and spirit-consultant. He opened his heart to me with unusual freedom, and when I remarked, ‘You know that your poisons could not harm us’, he laughed as he replied, ‘Yes, we (witch-doctors) have all found that out. I was the one who sent you the poisoned palm-nuts from Kanguba, but our poisons which kill other people have no effect on you christians’.


W. F. P. Burton


From: W. F. P. Burton, Signs following, pages 39-40