Fear Sickness. That is what the villagers of Anfalas called what was happening to them. Anfalas is one of the poorest villages in Gondor. It consists of relocated peoples who moved out of the mountains and down onto a sandy plain near the border of Mordor. The people walked three kilometers for water and eight kilometers for firewood. They work the cotton farms for the local authorities and receive little or no pay for their efforts. Last year after the cotton harvest the bosses came and gave them their pay. Their pay was that they were free to collect the cotton stalks and burn them as fuel in the winter. They were excited to recieve them. Injustice rolls down like waters in Gondor. So, this leaves the children with very little to eat and most of them show signs of significant malnourishment. They are often ill with no resources to cope.
Then came fear sickness. Women would be walking down the road and suddenly they would be inexplicably terrified and darkness would decend on them. They would often just pass out right there in the road. Sometimes they would fall down in a seizure banging their heads repeatedly on the ground. Others would sit in irrational fear and be unable to sleep for days. They would fall into a kind of catatonic state where they would stare off into space unresponsive to anybody.
Up until this time the team had complained to me that they didn't know what to do. I would not let them dig the wells as the villagers must take responsibility for that. They were to worship and serve in the village and they had a hard time figuring out if what they were doing was what I was asking of them or not. Now all that changed. There was no doubt as to what they had to be doing. The whole time they were in the village people would come to them and ask them to come and pray for those who were suffering from this fear sickness. A father would run down the street and say, 'Come quick! My daughter has fallen down in a seizure'. They would go and pray for the woman in Jesus name and instantly she would be well. This happened dozens of times over the period of about six weeks. One day a woman fell down in a seizure and Sam and Merry went in a prayed for her. She was instantly well. Then they left. As they were walking down the street the father ran after them and informed them that the daughter had fallen ill again. They prayed for her again and she was healed again. Merry told me later what Sam did then. Apparently Denethor and another religious leader were there when Sam yelled at the father and told him that he was inviting Satan back into his house by allowing these men to write charms. A charm is a scrap of paper with a verse of the Koran written on it. It can be worn on the arm or put somewhere in the house. Sam told them they could not have it both ways. They must either trust in the power of Jesus to protect them or the power of Satan. Denethor was not wholly happy with this assessment.
So, with the entire village determined to find some sort of cure for the fear sickness that did not include God we brought down a doctor to do a one day clinic and prove that the fear sickness had no systemic cause but was wholly spiritual in nature. Let's face it, either the whole village had suddenly come down with epilepsy or this was some serious spiritual warfare. As the villagers lined up to be seen by the doctor one by one they began to speak to me. They kept saying, 'Isn't there some sort of medicine or shot to cure this?' Is there something we should eat?' Then a guy came up to me and said, 'Do you think I should write a letter to the Duke and see if he will help.' I lost it. The Duke? How ridiculous were these people willing to be to keep from turning to God? Then Denethor came up to me, 'Strider, what is going on with this fear sickness?' I let him have it. I told him that Satan did not want us there and he was attacking his people. The ONLY protection he had was the name of Jesus. He must pray for his people in the name of Jesus. Denethor began then and continues today to pray for Anfalas in the name of Jesus. He still is not a follower of Jesus however.
By the end of March 2004 the fear sickness slowed down- but did not stop until late May. We showed the Jesus film at the end of March and the whole village watched it in the street with us. That was great fun and everyone was really amazed at Jesus life and work. But no decision. We kept thinking, 'Now, now they will decide.' But they didn't decide. We prayed we fasted we did Book studies from house to house. The team gave out New Testaments to any who would agree to read it to their whole families every night.