In September of 1999, a fire swept through a town in northern Madagascar where sapphires had recently been found, which had therefore attracted large numbers of migrants from different parts of Madagascar intent on trying their luck prospecting. Many of these migrants had become members of a New Church called “Jesus Saves” (Jesosy Mamonjy). As the fire ravaged the town destroying people’s houses, Jesus Saves converts ran to their new meeting hall and prayed that it be spared from the flames. They made no effort to help their neighbors to extinguish the fire. Moreover, to the anger and distress of the local population, they had built their new hall on the eastern side of the town’s lake totally disregarding the fact that it was strictly taboo (fady) to construct buildings there. Such inconsiderate behavior, as Walsh tells us in his account of events (Walsh 2002), was shocking to the town’s inhabitants and created a deep gulf between Jesus Saves Christians and the rest of the local population. Had the Seventh-day Adventists in the district of Maroantsetra heard of the migrants’ conduct, they would have been equally shocked, because their attitude to community living is completely opposed to this. On one occasion in Sahameloka, a young boy failed to return home by the time it got dark.
KeywordsReligious Commitment Church Member Ritual Practice Adventist Family Mutual Love
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