Pastor Francisco Barajah has died in Mozambique after attempting to go without food for 40 days in imitation of Jesus’ 40-day fast as recounted in the Bible.
Rev. Barajah, who founded the Santa Trindade Evangelical Church in Mozambique’s central province of Manica, passed away this week at the hospital in the city of Beira. By the twenty-fifth day of his fast, the 39-year-old pastor was reportedly so weak he was unable to stand, bathe, or walk and had to be rushed to the hospital.
In the hospital, the pastor was diagnosed with acute anemia and failure of his digestive organs. Doctors responded by attempting to rehydrate him with serums and to reintroduce liquid nourishment, but it was too late, and he succumbed on Wednesday.
Barajah’s brother, Marques Manuel, acknowledged the pastor had fasted but challenged the medical diagnosis about his death. “The truth is that my brother suffered from low blood pressure,” he said.
One report claimed that Barajah had foregone water as well as food, a scenario that is unlikely. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest anyone is known to have survived without water is 18 days. This occurred in 1979 when officers locked an 18-year-old Austrian bricklayer named Andreas Mihavecz in a police cell, then forgot about him.
According to the Gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke, Jesus went into the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread as he fasted for 40 days. The devil also tempted Him to throw Himself off the temple parapet and offered to give Him the world if Jesus would worship Him.
It is not unknown for Christians around the world to recreate painful moments from Jesus’ life as an act of devotion, including through self-flagellation and crucifixions. A Filipino man who had spent every Good Friday being nailed to a cross told Reuters in 2018 that he no longer felt pain from his wounds after subjecting himself to the annual ritual for 32 consecutive years.
Next Wednesday, Christians around the world will celebrate Ash Wednesday, kicking off the annual penitential season of Lent, a 40-day period modeled after Jesus’ time in the desert, as they prepare for Holy Week and Easter.