Evangelist, 53, Escapes Forceful Initiation, Death at the Hand of ‘Country Devil’

A 53 years old evangelist of the Winner Chapel Church International has since gone under cover after escaping both forceful initiation into the sande society, and death at the hands of a “Country Devil” in a village in Grand Bassa County.

Evangelist Mary Nyonyu Tegbeh’s escape from Tegbeh Town, her ancestral home in District #3C, is said to be miraculous after the country devil and its followers were insistent on capturing her at all costs for violating their rules and norms. She is wanted for preaching the gospel in that part of the country and trying to win souls for Christ, eyewitnesses say.

The traditional priest and her followers have accused the Evangelist, who returned to hometown after nearly 30 years of absence, of violating the rules of the sacred Sande Society and desecrating some sacred places and objects of the secret society.

Narrating Evangelist Tegbeh’s encounter with the zoes, an eyewitness who preferred not to be identified due to fear of reprisal, said that it all started on January 23 when Evangelist Tegbeh began to preach the word of God to the people of Tegbeh Town-an act that was frown upon by many of the townspeople.

With focus on Proverbs 31:8-9: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for rights of all who are destitute,” the woman of God is said to have irked the nerves of the traditional people of the town, who felt offended that being a women was presenting or portraying herself as a “light” and “voice” of their community-and was therefore looking down or denigrating the culture and traditional norms of the area. The service saw conducted on that Sunday January 23, 2022.

“The traditional people got angry and accused her of breaking some rules of their Sacred Sande Society by preaching such a message,” the eyewitness disclosed. She was also accused of crossing [going beyond] demarcations where non-members of the secret society are not supposed to go. Unknowingly she went in the bush that afternoon to toilet as usual. In addition to her sermon, she was accused of breaching traditional norms and denigrating sacred shrines upon her return from the toilet. “Eyewitness disclosed in interview” But she is believed to have crossed the “red-line” at a particular point when she left the town this day to go into the bush to ease herself, as the bushes are used as restrooms due to the lack of latrine in the town.

“The zoes accused Mary of crossing a line which they say is a holy ground or ground that belongs to the Sande Society,” “The zoes went to where she was staying and informed her that her preaching violated the rules of their tradition which they consider as inciting members of the society against their tradition and her visit in the bush was trespassing.”

The Zoes order the forcible initiation of Mary, or she face the death penalty because nobody violate their rules or spied on their activities and go free.

She was told that the orders were from the ‘country devil’ a spiritual traditional deity that some think is highly demonic. It controls the zoes of the Sacred Sande and Poro Society.

Being a strong believer in the Lord, Mary is said never to have taken kindly to the zoes’ words which she considered “threats” to her life.

“She escaped by the skin of the teeth,” a relative of the Evangelist who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal from traditional leaders, said. “Some of us don’t even know how Mary left that town. I don’t even know her whereabouts as we speak. It is sad that her life has been threatened by her own people.”

Meanwhile, Evangelist Tegbeh left that village in 1993, a tense period of the over 14 years of civil conflict that devastated the country and went to Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Her hometown suffered some of the worst atrocities of the crises. For the love of her country, she came back to settle down in Monrovia.

The town was burned to ashes after soldiers of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) soldiers gutted it with fire. Residents, including relatives of the tormented evangelist, were killed-all of these before her own eyes. The NPFL was the main rebel group headed by imprisoned President and famous dictator, Charles G. Taylor that helped to end the tyrannical leadership of President Samuel K. Doe.

Witnessing the mayhem committed in her ancestral home, Evangelist Tegbeh also bears the psychological and mental scars of the war in addition to the loss of relatives.

She has, however, visited Liberia on many occasions since leaving that fateful day 29 years ago but has refused to visit her paternal home.

But she decided to visit this time around and acquaint herself with her people and she received a rousing welcome from all her family members, relatives, and friends from the town-not until the unfortunate clash with her kinsmen.

This article was published in the Nations Times Newspaper on Wednesday, January 26, 2022.

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