Ministry Breaks Slavery Bonds

For generations, girls in the North Tongu District of Ghana’s Volta Region have been slaves to traditional fetish priests. Currently more than 1,000 girls are slaves serving priests at two-dozen shrines where idols are worshiped.

Walter Pinpong, Ghana executive director of International Needs (IN), says the shrine priests will obtain girls aged 4 to 8 from families wanting to break a curse that has been placed upon them. Rather than face threats of familial deaths or other disasters, families will relinquish a young daughter. This has been going on for generations, Pinpong says, because when the slave girl dies, the family must replace her.

Girls work from sunrise to sunset tending the land, yet they must find their own food. At puberty they also become sex slaves of the fetish priest. “It’s a deplorable situation of total illiteracy and abject poverty,” Pinpong told CHRISTIANITY TODAY. But Pinpong, 44, is working to change all that.

In a two-year training program, Pinpong and his IN staff have been able to take 41 residents from the shrines and teach mat-weaving vocational skills. In addition, IN teaches the girls how to read, sew, and bake. Once basic living needs have been met, IN introduces a Bible-study program, and several of the girls have become Christians.

Pinpong is negotiating with fetish priests to trade a tractor for the release of some of the girls. “Ultimately, our aim is to see them spiritually free as well as physically free.”

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