Banza Mwela, the pastor of a Sunday-keeping church in the Democratic Republic of Congo, nearly died when his wife and son doused him with skin-burning acid on the day of his baptism into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
But Banza, his face permanently disfigured, clung to life and today is an Adventist pastor preaching a powerful testimony that draws crowds to Jesus.
“I praise the Lord that I belong to the Seventh-day Adventist family and that the devil has been defeated,” Banza said.
The story began in October 2013 when Banza attended an evangelistic campaign in the southeastern city of Likasi. He was not among the 60 people baptized after the meetings sponsored by Adventist world church president Ted N.C. Wilson and led by Austin Goodwin, a pastor from the Columbia Union Conference in the United States.
Church leaders said Banza wasn’t quite ready, so he enrolled in the pastoral training school at the local Philip Lemon University to learn more about Adventist doctrines. Three months later, he was baptized.
“But then he was baptized by a sword of anger unexpectedly waiting for him at home,” Robert S. Muhune, president of the Adventist Church’s East Congo Union Mission.
On the day of his baptism, Banza returned home, happily singing a hymn about the power of Jesus. As he entered the house, his adult son lunged toward him and threw a pail of sulfuric acid on his face and body. Blinded and burning with pain, Banza cried out in agony and crumpled onto the floor.
Banza’s wife and son, enraged that he had left their church, had plotted the attack and hoped that he would die on the spot, Muhune said.
“But fortunately a miracle happened,” he said. “The man didn’t die.”
Neighbors heard Banza’s cry and rushed him to the hospital.
Doctors weren’t sure that he would make it. He lost an eye and most of the skin on his body. He spent weeks in intensive care, and skin grafts and other reconstructive plastic surgery are continuing even now, four years later. The Adventist world church has helped cover the expensive operations, and Wilson has intervened personally to make sure that Banza receives the care that he needs.
Banza’s wife and son disappeared after the attack and are on the police’s wanted list.
While Banza remains in considerable pain, he spends little time in the hospital bed. He actively shares his testimony in churches and at camp meetings. He hopes to study theology and become an Adventist pastor. His favorite Bible passage is Isaiah 43:1-3, which he reads as he shares his story: “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place.”
God has turned the devil’s evil plan into a blessing for many people, Muhune said.
“Banza’s experience has brought many young people to Jesus in the town where he was baptized,” he said. “There is power in Jesus and in His name.”