The Ministry of Education has launched an investigation into reports of strange and disturbing student behaviour at some schools, after the students reportedly played an increasingly popular game known as the Charlie Charlie Challenge.
Acting Chief Education Officer Karen Best told Barbados TODAY education authorities only became aware of the reports through the media today.
“All I can say is that we will investigate it to find out what is really going on,” she said.
The game, which is taking over Twitter, is fuelled by speculation that players can connect with a dead Mexican spirit known as “Charlie”. It involves placing two pencils on a piece of paper in the shape of a cross with the words “yes” and “no”.
Participants then repeat the phrase “Charlie, Charlie can we play?” in order to connect with the alleged demon. If “Charlie” is there, the pencils will move to indicate his answer.
Police, along with a number of pastors from the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI) group, were summoned to several schools today, including the Lawrence T. Gay Memorial where a pupil reportedly started reacting strangely after playing the game.
Students at the St Leonard’s Boys’ Secondary School were also assembled for prayer in light of concerns over the impact which the “demonic” craze was having.
Retired Anglican Bishop of Barbados, The Right Reverend Dr Rufus Brome, told Barbados TODAY that there were evil forces at work in the world.
He said: “It is not just that you are dealing with evil individuals, but we have to deal with evil systems and evil powers that are trying to work against God. Within the Scriptures, we read about Jesus casting out demons. People are beginning to come around to see that evil is real and not a case of a person who is insane. There is an evil force working against what is good.
“Part of our problem is that if you cast out evil, you have to put something good in its place. Evil is not just the absence of good. If you cast out evil, you have to ensure that something good takes its place,” added Brome, lamenting that a lot of “the grounding people used to have with the teaching of Scripture in primary schools and attending Sunday School . . . no longer exists” to expose them to what was good.
Among pastors called in to pray at schools today were Rev Paul Leacock of the First Baptist Church and Rev Selwyn Brathwaite of the Kingdom Life Assembly. Rev Brathwaite told Barbados TODAY all he was asked to do was to go and pray for some spiritual activity.
However, he did not see a reason for panic, even though it may be an issue of concern.
“I think people are jumping on a bandwagon. We should get all the facts and then make an informed decision,” said the pastor, who is one of the 7,500 members of PAWI.
In an email circulated to member churches, PAWI head Bishop Gerry Seale wrote: “Rev Paul Leacock has confirmed that he and Rev Michael Alleyne are at the Lawrence T. Gay School . . . where demonic activity has been manifested as a result of Charlie’s Challenge. The police were summoned.
“Rev Selwyn Brathwaite has told me he has been called to Milton Lynch School. The head of Praying Moms has just notified me that the police have been summoned to Ellerslie Secondary School. This morning, I spoke to a Youth Pastor in Guyana who has had to deal with 16 students so far needing deliverance from demonic activity as a result of this game.”
Later, in an interview with Barbados TODAY, Bishop Seale called on all churches across the island to designate Monday as a day of fasting and prayer on behalf of the young people of this nation.
“I am asking churches across Barbados to begin a time of serious spiritual warfare,” he stressed.
The religious leader noted that he had already spoken to his two grandchildren who attend school, urging them to keep far away from the Charlie Charlie Challenge due to its negative spiritual impact.
“This needs urgent, sustained prayer,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, pastor in charge of Restoration Ministries, Senator Rev David Durant, expressed the view the game could have devastating effects. He said while he was aware the Ministry of Education had a pastor assigned to every school, there was need for teachers with Christian backgrounds to be trained in areas of “intercessory intervention” through prayer. This, he suggested, would equip them to have a better knowledge about how to handle similar occurrences in the classroom.
“Any infiltration of demonic forces into our school life is disastrous and would be devastating; so we need people in the form of our teachers to pray for our children and help to guide them in a positive way,” he said.
Similar strange events have been reported at schools in other Caribbean countries including Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda and St Lucia.