Pastor dies attempting 40-day Jesus fast in Mozambique

Women carry water home in Mozambique.
Women carry water home in Mozambique. | (Photo: World Vision)

A 39-year-old Mozambican pastor reportedly died trying to fast for 40 days in emulation of Jesus after going without food or water for 25 days.

Pastor Francisco Barajah, who founded Santa Trindade Evangelical Church and was also a French teacher in the central province of Manica, died in a hospital in Beira city on Wednesday, BBC reported, adding that he lost a lot of weight and could not stand.

Doctors at the hospital said he had acute anemia and digestive organ failure. Attempts to rehydrate him with serums and introduce liquid foods failed.

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Members of Barajah's church said the pastor and congregants would often fast, but never for such an extended period.

Barajah's brother, Marques Manuel Barajah, doesn't believe the medical diagnosis was correct, claiming his brother suffered from low blood pressure instead.

According to the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke in the Bible, Jesus went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights after He was baptized by John the Baptist.

This is not the first time someone has attempted 40-day Jesus fast and died.

In 2015, a 73-year-old Christian man from Zimbabwe named Reinfirst Manyuka died. He left his home on June 15 of that year to embark on a spiritual journey in the wilderness, just like Jesus did.

Manyuka hoped the fast would redirect his mind away from earthly things and toward God.

While it had been claimed that the man made it at least 30 days in the wilderness, the exact date of his death remained unclear as he could have been dead in the bushes for days before his body was eventually found by a stranger, who alerted the police.

In 2018, a 15-year-old boy in Wisconsin, identified as Ayanfe O. Omosebi, died after his parents forced him to join a 40-day fast in search of a blessing from God.

After the parents reported their son's death to police, authorities searched the home and found his 11-year-old brother was also emaciated. The 11-year-old was taken to a medical center for care. The couple was charged with neglecting a child causing death and neglecting a child causing great bodily harm.

Authorities said the deceased teenager wrote a letter to "Lawyers of Sauk County Circuit Court" complaining about the hunger he experienced during the fast and expressed fears about his eventual death.

"The hunger is too much. Please help me now so I may eat," the teenager wrote in the letter. "I can't continue in such a life with no food ... If I don't get food now I'll probably die of hunger."

Jesus was not the only biblical figure who fasted for 40 days.

The book of Exodus records that Moses went without food for 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Horeb and then was given the Ten Commandments. Also, after defeating the prophets of Baal, in the book of 1 Kings, Elijah fled and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights until he reached Mount Horeb.

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