Tommie Titcombe and the Nigerian Witchdoctors

This is the day that … Tommie Titcombe was born in Wiltshire, England, in 1881.

It was at the age of 21 that he and some friends took shelter from a rainstorm by entering a Salvation Army hall. A meeting was in progress. Conviction of sin entered … and a few days later Tommie “was saved for time and eternity,” to use his own words.

Four years later – and now living in Canada – Tommie heard an S.I.M. missionary recently returned from Nigeria. Again the sword of the Spirit did its work, and by 1908 he was in the ‘dark continent’, ‘the white man’s grave’ as it was then known, ready to preach the gospel. In those days most SIM missionaries either died early or returned as invalids from the field.

He became a pioneer missionary to the Yogba people … and the obstacles and blessings that came his way are recounted in Tread Upon the Lion, by S. de la Haye.

Another volume, A Flame of Fire, by J. Hunter, tells of the birth of S.I.M. and the early men and women of God who ventured forth …

The story of Tommie Titcombe surrounded by “witch doctors gesticulating, posturing and gyrating, and the mob shrieking and roaring” (page 149) develops into an incredible saga.

“I pushed my way to the centre of the ring,” wrote Tommie, “and saw to my utter astonishment a woman rigid in the air. Her feet were some two feet off the earth and as she came toward me gravitation had no power over her … All I said was: ‘Lord, Thou hast said in Thy Name we shall cast out demons. Lord, deliver this girl’. Immediately she dropped to the ground. I picked her up and carried her into the first hut …” (pages 150-151).

The witch doctors and sorcerers of the Yagba people threatened physical harm and death to Tommie Titcombe if he entered their villages. The villagers of Ponyan strung a rope of fresh human heads across the path to scare him away from their area. Tommie fasted and prayed and entered that village and many others.

One of his earliest converts and the first man to be baptised (in 1914), Malachi, son of a witchdoctor, lived to over 100 years and did much to build on the foundation which Tommy established.

Before his death he had the joy of seeing thousands of Yagba people in Nigeria turn to Christ.

Raymond J. Davis, S.I.M. General Director, tells of visiting Tommie just prior to his death. “He grasped my hand. ‘Ray,’ he said, ‘I’ve told you many times that long ago God gave me Psalm 91 as my special portion of Scripture. There are 33 promises in that Psalm and God has fulfilled every one of them for me, most of them many times’. He lay back on his pillow … opened his eyes a bit and said, ‘I’ll see you up there …’.”

Tommie Titcombe died in Toronto, Canada, on 29 May, 1968.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Marriage in Two Easy Lessons

I recently noticed a sweet little summary of marriage in the Bible, that I had not noticed before. I like what it says and it gives me a fresh handle on some things I have been teaching and new things I need to bring out in my teaching. So, here’s a look at “Marriage in Two Easy Lessons”.

The passage which caught my attention is in the last book in the Old Testament, the book of Malachi, written by one of the prophets at the close of the Old Testament era. Malachi is a prophet who challenged the backslidden attitudes of the people in his day. Malachi was preoccupied with challenging God’s people, including the religious leaders, about the fact that they were going through the motions but were missing the core essence of many godly things. One of those things Malachi addressed was marriage.

I was struck by the way Malachi summarised marriage in two simple descriptors. Have a look at the verse and see if you can see the two key points that impressed me. Malachi 2:14 “the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously: yet is she your companion, and the wife of your covenant.” Can you see in that verse that marriage is described as both a ‘companionship’ and a ‘covenant’?

Here we have marriage in two easy lessons. Let me unpack these two lessons for you. I’ll start with the second one, since it is something I have had a beef about more recently on this blog.

Marriage is a ‘covenant’. That means it is something which God created for us. We didn’t invent it and we don’t get to make of it what we want to. It is a divine creation to be operated and explored by God’s rules and for His purposes. I have spoken out already about how people try to make marriage into a product of their liking. They may choose to have consensus instead of headship. They may choose to have shared roles instead of God’s specifications for their roles. They may choose to allow things in their relationship which God does not allow. They may deem for their relationship to be temporary and transient when God declares that it is permanent.

By being a ‘covenant’, marriage is not something we can tamper with. God will judge us, as He did in Malachi’s day, on the basis of how we have treated the special relationship which He created. We cannot get off by saying, “Oh, we decided to make marriage into something more modern and more acceptable to our cultural values.” That just doesn’t wash with God. Marriage is what He made it to be. Your wife is the wife of your covenant, even if you don’t know what a covenant is. Husbands must love their wife. Wives must submit to their husband. The husband must be the head. The husband must perfect his wife and rule over her.

When a man says, “I don’t go in for that headship stuff”, he is defying God and rejecting the gift of marriage which God created for him and his wife. When a man says, “I won’t rule over my wife”, he is denying the wife any opportunity to prove herself as submissive, so he is denying her the chance to be a truly godly wife.

At the same time, given equal weight in Malachi’s summary, is the fact that marriage is a ‘companionship’. Husbands and wives are travelling companions. They are privileged with a close friendship relationship. The formal, by the book, covenant relationship is not the whole story. A couple could have a correct ‘covenant’ relationship and yet not even be good friends. Malachi rescues marriage from that sterility by giving equal weight to the fact that the couple are ‘companions’.

I find that exciting. While I am a strong contender for the covenant roles and model of marriage, I am delighted with having a bride who is my life-long companion. To see that companionship role enshrined so worthily in scripture seems completely fitting to me. Susan is my best friend, my partner, my lover, my travelling companion. She is the one who shares the happy moments with me and who blesses me like no other.

Also, by bringing companionship into focus, we can look at those things which spoil the journey – such as resentment, nagging, contention, unforgiveness, neglect, competition, and the like. When we see those things come between us we know that we have a divine mandate to remove them. Susan is not just my companion because she is my wife, but she is my companion because God declares it so! I have no right to have her as anything other than my companion. When either husband or wife would rather be on their own than with the ‘companion’, there may be something that is spoiling the divine quality which God intends every couple to enjoy.

Now, two cannot walk together except they are agreed (Amos 3:3). So couples may have to work at preserving companionship, just as we may have to work at the covenant aspects of our relationship. We can now do both of those things with a sense of divine injunction and authority, and with the clarity that these are the two broad lessons of marriage.

Godly Seed & Introduced Seed

In my parenting seminars I teach on the significance of ‘godly seed’. In recent posts on the Bible I have discussed the fact that the Bible is an indestructible seed and an introduced seed. I now want to put those thoughts together as a lesson for parents and all who work with young lives.

The Old Testament prophet Malachi gives us a key insight into the parenting role. In Malachi 2:15 we are told that the reason God created marriage is because God is seeking ‘godly seed’. I have discussed this before and it is covered in my books, but to refresh the point let me simply note that a seed is something that reproduces after its own kind. A ‘godly seed’, then, will create a new godly seed, which will create a new godly seed, and so on. Parents are to raise ‘godly’ children, not ‘good’ children. (see my posting of 9 Feb – Godly Seed with a Heart After God)

What makes this prescription difficult for many parents is that they are not ‘godly’. They may be Christian, but not have the experience of being raised as ‘godly seed’ and so be at a loss to know how to raise ‘godly’ children. This is where the other ‘seed’ comes into play.

The Bible is miraculous, divine seed, introduced to earth and enabling mortal beings to propagate eternal growth in their life. The Bible is an ‘indestructible seed’, so it produces a crop that is indestructible. What is born of God within us, by our faith in what the Bible teaches, is victorious, triumphant and glorious. This is the eternal seed which parents must apply to their natural seed, so the natural seed becomes godly seed.

Two steps in this process are worth suggesting, for those who would like some practical application of this. Seed needs to be planted and watered. Reading the Bible with your children and praying with them for God to give revelation and apply the Bible’s truth to your lives is a good start. Read, discuss and put your faith in what the Bible teaches.

The related step is to ‘touch your child’s palate’ with the Word of God. Since godly things are not going to seem as ‘tasty’ to humans as sensual and even evil things, it is important to create a taste for divine truth in your children. Reading and discussing the Bible together is the right starting place. Praying to God about the issues raised by your Bible reading is also good. Another way to prompt a taste for spiritual things in your child is to take them to a Bible believing church, especially where people enjoy a living faith in God, rather than a religious devotion to their doctrinal statements. When children befriend people who love God and love God’s word, have committed themselves to serving God – such as on the missionfield, or who are delighted to know and serve God, those children will get a taste for faith that is real.

If you don’t apply the special ‘introduced seed’ which God has brought to us from eternity, then you will not be able to transform your natural seed child into godly seed. And remember, the reason God gave you the privilege of marriage is because He expects and is looking for ‘godly seed’.

Marriage Scriptures

Due to requests for Bible Verses about Marriage I have compiled a quick list of Marriage Scriptures which give people access to some key thoughts about marriage as discussed in the Bible.Much that is taught about marriage is not listed neatly but is embedded into the broader picture of God’s dealings with people. For that reason some of the important truths need to be mined – dug out of the pages of the Bible. That does not mean the truths are not important, but rather that our whole life walk with God is more important than any one aspect of that journey.The following collection of Bible Verses on Marriage covers some of the Key Thoughts. At a later time I will collate a discussion about Bible Verses from the early chapters of Genesis – since Jesus referred back to them. But for now, here are the Key Scriptures.

God Created Marriages

“And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, he made into a woman, and brought her to the man.” Genesis 2:22

Husbands are to Love their Wife

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” Ephesians 5:25

Husbands are to Cling to their Wife

“Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will cling to his wife: and they will be one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

Wives are to Submit to their Husband

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22

God Hates Divorce

“For the LORD, the God of Israel, says he hates putting away (divorce): for one covers violence with his garment, says the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” Malachi 2:16

God Created Sex

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:27

God Wants Marriages to Produce Godly Children

“And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And why one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.” Malachi 2:15

Forgiveness is the Key to Happiness in the Home

“And be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

Love is Awesome

“Love suffers long, and is kind; love does not envy; love does not promote itself, is not puffed up, does not behave badly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” 1Corinthians 13:4-8

Marriage is a Covenant – so God is part of every marriage

“… the LORD hath been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously: yet is she your companion, and the wife of your covenant.” Malachi 2:14

God Joins the Couple Together so their Sexual Intimacy is not Sinful

“What therefore God has joined together, do not let man put asunder (separate).” Mark 10:9

“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Hebrews 13:4