More than 30 years ago in a remote Balanta village in Senegal, the Dimbaya society performed rituals to initiate Satou, ally her with her people’s ancestral spirits and ensure that she would bear children.
This week, her children took a stand for Christ and refused the Dimbaya ritual that was supposed to close out Satou’s funeral.
“This refusal to conform will surely bring some kind of misfortune!” the society members warned.
But her children are resting in God.
Satou had many opportunities to hear Bible teaching.
“For the last five years, most Sunday mornings Satou sat in her bedroom while church was going on in the sitting room,” wrote missionaries Dave and Tippy McKee. “She has heard the Word time and again, and has witnessed the changed lives of her family.”
She never indicated that she believed, until last week.
Satou’s health had been failing for several weeks, and one morning last week her oldest and second-oldest daughters, both believers, sat by her bed and went over God’s plan of salvation once again.
“On that morning she said that she agreed that what Christ did on the cross was for her and she was no longer trusting in her old ways,” the McKees wrote. “She asked [her oldest daughter] to throw away the traditional fetishes that people had brought to help her.”
When she died three days later, her daughters had peace in their hearts, knowing they would see their mother again in Heaven.
And that set the stage for the conflict with the Dimbaya society.
After her first daughter was born, Satou had trouble becoming pregnant again and was initiated into the society.
“These rituals include wearing a burlap sack, sitting on and rolling in the dirt, and eating a meal with sand mixed in it,” the McKees wrote. “Not long thereafter she began bearing children again and so these children are considered part of the Dimbaya.”
So when Satou died, Dimbaya members came from surrounding villages to perform the proper ritual to close the funeral.
Instead, Satou’s oldest daughter stood before the group and told them there was no need for the ritual. She said, “God has said, ‘Old things are passed away, all things have become new.’”