Meet Yadison, one of the most pleasant people you’ll ever see.
About 7-8 years ago, however, Yadison was almost killed for being a witch. He was tied up in the village of Waina and several men were going to shoot him with arrows because they suspected him of witchcraft.
You see, Yadison is mentally challenged. Thus, he When he was suspected and questioned, he gave some rather odd responses. From Yadison’s report, the conversation went something like this:
“Did you change form and become a cassowary or a bird or bat?”
“Well, yes…I had a dream that I became a cassowary and I could see myself running through the jungle. And I was also a bird and flew over the village and could change back and forth if I wanted. I can also go under the ground sometimes. At night I always see this…maybe it’s true, huh?”
Not the best defense on the jungle witness stand!
The evangelist in Waina at that time was Evangelist Yowenus Wenda. For all of his other faults, Yowenus’ deeds that day were indeed praiseworthy as he stood between Yadison and the village men with their bows and arrows. He untied Yadison and brought him upriver to us in Danowage, a safe haven where we fed him for a while so he could regain his strength. He returned the favor by insisting on digging out my ditches so that my yard could remain dry (less muddy, at least) during the rainy season.
Yadison is not the only “witch” to become a member of Danowage Village. Some months before his arrival, we received the young child Yames Ta-il. Yames lived in the vicinity of Ujung Batu, about a two day walk to my west. The people there, even his relatives, were discussing how best to get rid of this young nuisance. Should they drown him there or go downriver and leave him in another village?
Why did they suspect Yames? Not only was he a bit precocious (i.e. annoying), but two other children had recently died, probably due to malaria, the previous month. One of these children was another 6-year-old like Yames and explained to several family members how he saw Yames in a dream shortly before he died. This provided evidence enough for several of the villagers and even his older brother to disown him and plot his death or abandonment.
Thankfully, the evangelist Ainus Kogoya arrived in the village and retrieved Yames before any decisions could be brutally implemented, and carried the boy on his back for many hours through the jungle because Yames had been mostly starved for two weeks and was too weak to walk by himself.
Would the community have really killed Yadison and Yames? I believe that is a possibility, especially since a young boy of about 7 was suspected of witchcraft and cornered on the bank of the river near Abiowage in 2007 and shot with arrows. Also, a young man in Danowage was bound and had his arms and legs broken before being drowned in the river near a place where I often used to take Noah to swim that same year.
(Yadison playing music for Gideon and even dancing to cheer him up). How are Yadison and Yames now? They are healthy. Yames can still be a nuisance at times, but not to the witchcraft accusation level. And Yadison seems to be a faithful believer who loves Jesus. In 2014, he was always at our discipleship class and strained to be able to repeat the stories from the Bible that we taught him. This year he attended our school and tried very hard and, with special attention from the patient teacher Septry, was able to master very simple reading with some difficulty. Despite sitting with kids half his age, he struggles to keep up with them, but nonetheless tries. When hiking he often grabs my backpack from me to carry it, he is quick to help my children in crossing logs, he seems to always work for the well-being of others, and has a very gentle and sweet disposition.
On the Day of Judgment, I expect that Yadison may enter heaven ahead of many who have Ph.D.s in this world!
- Jimi giving Yames a haircut shortly after receiving him in Danowage Village. Doses of malaria and worm medicine are to follow, plus new clothes and a hearty meal.
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in