“If he joins the Bible study, we won’t.” A few ladies looked at me for my response. I had no idea where this statement was coming from, so I asked them. “He is a phiipohp, if he is coming, we won’t come any more.”
He had been attending the Bible study meetings for a few months. We saw him growing in understanding Jesus’ love and he was considering leaving his old beliefs behind to follow his Creator. The ladies that gave this statement attended for the first time. How should we go about this?
One day this man was not able to join our fellowship. I had some time to talk with the Christians and non-believers about this man and about this matter of phiipohp. What is it exactly and what do Christians do with it?
We did not come to a single conclusion, as everyone had their own ideas. The word phii stands for evil spirit, every phii has its own characteristics and name. This particular one is called Pohp. The phiipohp is actually a little different from ‘normal’ spirits, they told me. It is actually the spirit of the man himself that will go out during his sleep to kill and destroy. It is one of the most feared evil spirits, that seems to most often reside in single people. Villagers are afraid that the spirit will come and eat their liver. In the past (and at times even nowadays) people were expelled from their village because they had been accused of being a phiipohp.
The next day a Thai Christian and I went to visit this man. He lives on his own. After some time we mentioned the accusation from the other villagers. He told us that he attended meetings in the temple regularly, but had not been involved in any rituals that have to do with spirits. His wife though, is heavily involved in the spirit world. The few times we met her we sensed a rejection from her side as well. It could be possible that she brought this phiipohp story to the villagers. But that’s a guess.
For now we prayed with the man to stop this gossip and false accusation in Jesus’ name. We talked about his lifestyle that perhaps played a part in causing some of the gossip. Could he open his windows during the day? So people see that he has nothing to hide?
Sadly, the ladies who brought up the accusation are no longer attending the Bible study. However, the man chose to put his trust in his Savior, Jesus, and is learning more and more how to live a life with Him. Hopefully, the villagers will see Jesus in his life and give Him another chance to come into their lives.
Sijmen & Annelies den Hartog