Former shaman says answer for his people 'is
Jesus Christ' A member of an Amazon-jungle tribe renowned for its
savagery has told how missionaries have helped break the power of
demonic forces that control the group.
An elderly man nicknamed "Shoefoot," who is part
of the Yanomami people scattered through the Venezuelan and Brazilian
rainforests, has been visiting churches in the Midwest to share
his testimony and tell of how God has changed the tribe.
"Even though I'm not an educated man and I don't
know many things, I do know the answer for my people is Jesus Christ,"
he told a meeting in Nekoosa, Wis., reported "The (Wisconsin Rapids)
The primitive Yanomami were made world famous
by researcher Napoleon Chagnon, whose 1968 anthropological study,
"Yanomamo: The Fierce People," is still widely read by university
students. The book chronicles the tribes frequent, violent clashes
with other groups.
But Shoefoot said that people who believed the
tribe would be corrupted by contact with the outside world were
wrong. "They thought everything was OK the way things are. But they're
not. The only way to maintain our identity, to survive as a tribe,
is if you teach us, if you help us learn that we don't have to revenge
kill. We're wiping ourselves out as a people. This is because of
the demonic spirits that the people fear and worship all the time."
A former shaman now in his 70s, Shoefoot told
how for many years he had daily contact with evil spirits, and used
hallucinogenic drugs, said the "Tribune." When he turned to Christ
he was still bound by the devil. "I told God, 'If you want me, you'll
have to rescue me from Satan,'" he said.
"I could not resist. Then, there was a blinding
white light, breaking away the chains. And a voice: 'Leave him alone.
Now, he's mine.' All the demonic forces fled. And they've never
been back. I never want the hand of Satan on me again. I have been
covered by God Himself now. I just want to stay close to Him, always."
Shoefoot dismissed the controversial claim that
has dogged Chagnon's work in recent years, that he and other researchers
had deliberately spread measles that had helped decimate the tribe.
Nor was it true that violating custom by persistently asking members
of the Yanomami their names had provoked warfare, he said.
Shoefoot's account was translated by missionary
Gary Dawson, who has lived among the Yanomami for almost 50 years
and whose parents began working with the tribe in the 1950s, said
the newspaper. Through their work, the cycle of killing and rape
has stopped in Shoefoot's village but continues in other communities
that have not accepted God.
Dawson said that when he showed Shoefoot some
of the Pokemon trading cards when they first came to Venezuela,
the Yanomami man identified the images and names as belonging to
"child spirits" who prepared youngsters in the tribe for the evil
spirits that would come during adulthood.
One of those who heard Shoefoot speak, Karen Zwicke,
told the "Tribune" she had become a Christian after hearing his
testimony previously on the radio. "I don't think people realize
the realness of God and Jesus Christ," she said. "Shoefoot's testimony
proves God is real."
Charisma May 08, 2002.
I'll Never Go Back - Former Shaman Shoefoot