This week, please intercede with us for Dimbiniaina (Andry) Randrianasolo from Madagascar.
Madagascar sits in the Indian Ocean to the southeast of mainland Africa. Of the island nation’s 28 million people, 85% are Christians (46% Protestant and 38% Catholic), 7% report no religious affiliation, 5% practice folk religions, and 3% are Muslims. Madagascar is famed for its tropical rainforests, reef-rich beaches, and biodiversity. Over 70% of its wildlife, including lemurs, can only be found in Madagascar. Concerns over rapid deforestation, climate change, and wildlife endangerment continue to rise amid economic hardships worsened by the pandemic. In recent years, intense drought and destructive cyclones have led to famine conditions in the country’s south, where 1.6 million Malagasy face food insecurity and 309 thousand children suffer from acute malnutrition.
Andry is pursuing a PhD in Intercultural Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary (Kentucky, USA). Before coming to Asbury, Andry served as Deputy Director and Professor of Practical Theology (Church Ministry and Deliverance and Healing Ministry) at the Regional Malagasy Lutheran Seminary in southeast Madagascar. For his dissertation, he is investigating how exorcism (asa) and empowerment (fampaherezana) have shaped Lutheran missions in Madagascar.
Andry is the first Malagasy Lutheran scholar to research these practices, which have been vital for evangelism and spiritual care in Madagascar, where shamanism and syncretism are widespread, even among Christians. Upon graduation, he will be the first pastor in the Synod of Manakara to hold a PhD, as well as the first professor in his region with expertise in Intercultural Studies. Andry and his wife Lanto are parents to two college-aged children: a son, Fitahiana, and a daughter, Priscilla.
Andry shares the following message:
My name is Rev. Dimbiniaina Randrianasolo, and I am known as Andry. I am an ordained pastor in the Lutheran Church of Madagascar, as well as a commissioned and licensed Malagasy Lutheran exorcist. I have also served as a Deputy Director and Professor of Church Ministry and Practical Theology at the Malagasy Lutheran Seminary in the southeastern region of Madagascar.
Currently, I am writing my dissertation proposal as I pursue a PhD degree in Intercultural Studies, with a concentration in Evangelism and Discipleship, at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky in the United States of America. My wife, Lanto, and our collegian children, Fitahiana (21 yrs. old) and Priscilla (18 yrs. old), accompany me while I complete my doctoral studies.
The Malagasy Worldview and Ministry of the Lutheran Church of Madagascar
Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island, located south of the African continent in the Indian Ocean. This island nation has a population of approximately 28 million people from 18 different tribes. 45.8% are Protestants, the majority being Malagasy Lutherans who number 7 million.
The Malagasy worldview is shaped by spirit-power encounters and a power/fear view of reality. People with this worldview believe that all happenings in their daily lives – such as illness, poverty, misfortune, and even unexplained death – have spiritual causes. Therefore, it is crucial for them to seek higher power in the razana (ancestors), who are mediators between living descendants and Zanahary (a traditional creator god, not the Christian God).
In the Malagasy worldview, the razana bestow the blessings of offspring and good harvest as rewards for obedience, as well as curses as punishment for disobedience. Seeking solutions to their spirit-power encounter issues, people approach the ombiasy (witchdoctors and traditional healers), who intervene between the living and the razana. From a Christian perspective, solutions provided by the ombiasy have demonic attachments.
In addressing spirit-power encounter issues by means of asa and fampaherezana (Malagasy Lutheran forms of exorcism rooted in the teachings and practices of Jesus and the disciples), the Lutheran Church of Madagascar argues that spirit-power encounters related to ancestors are the works of Satan and his demons. In this Christian perspective, those spirit-power encounters are caused by demonic forces that have demonic attachments.
My PhD Studies
Recently, I have resumed writing my proposal following my six-bypass open heart surgery last year on May 5, 2021. The title of my dissertation research is: “Malagasy Lutheran Exorcism and Intercultural Discipleship: Studying the Effects of Asa and Fampaherezana on the Discipleship of Those Who Received Deliverance and Healing from Excluded Middle Issues that Have Demonic Attachments in the Malagasy Lutheran Practice.”
The objective of my research study is to learn how asa and fampaherezana affect the discipleship of those who have received deliverance and healing from spirit-power encounter issues with demonic attachments. Though asa and fampaherezana have been practiced by Malagasy Lutherans since 1894 through a revival movement called Fifohazana, there remains the main question of how excluded middle issues (spirit-power encounters) are addressed in the discipleship of new converts who have received deliverance and healing.
My research is significant in four ways. First, it defines which excluded middle issues require the ministry of asa and fampaherezana in Malagasy Lutheran practice. Second, it explores deeply meaningful rituals and symbols in Malagasy culture that can help address excluded middle issues in the discipleship of new converts. Third, it examines how asa and fampaherezana affect the spiritual growth of new converts in their discipleship process. Finally, it assesses how asa and fampaherezana affect church planting and growth.
The Lutheran Church of Madagascar continues to address all forms of syncretism in its members’ lives through its ministry of asa and fampaherezana and discipleship. However, this work remains difficult in a power/fear and spirit-power encounter cultural context. Therefore, we need intercultural discipleship that can transform worldviews through culturally appropriate rituals and symbols, so that those who have received deliverance and healing can center their lives on the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and obey Jesus’ commands (Matthew 28: 19-20).
While I continue my cardiac rehabilitation program and treatments after my six-bypass open heart surgery, I would appreciate prayers asking Jesus that I continue making good progress with recovery and healing – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Also, pray for my family’s well-being.
I would appreciate prayers asking the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom, knowledge, guidance, and counsel as I write my proposal.
Pray for the Lutheran Church of Madagascar as the Church continues to carry out its mandate of preaching, teaching, and making disciples of Jesus Christ. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to challenge the Church in pursuing those ministries.
I extend my thanks and appreciation to the members of our prayer community. It’s a blessing to have a community like ours to support one another in prayer.
Blessings in Jesus Christ,