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Free At Last!

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Aicha* was writhing on the floor in a full demonic manifestation when my husband, Stephen, first met her. They were at a soul care conference he was helping lead in Guinea. Aicha’s torment that evening illustrates why this healing, restorative ministry is desperately needed here.

We first got involved in soul care (see sidebar) several years ago while discipling our Envision interns, working through Rob Reimer’s book on this topic. Meanwhile, we were seeing deep needs within Alliance churches in Guinea related to this region’s dark history of occultic practices.

This Book Was Written for Us!

Passionate to see Guinean believers experience complete freedom in Christ, Stephen invited Rob, professor of pastoral theology at Alliance Theological Seminary (New York, N.Y.), to teach on Soul Care at a church leadership conference we hosted here. “This book was written for Africa!” one attendee exclaimed.

Three pastors who attended the conference now promote and teach the book’s seven transformational principles in Alliance churches across Guinea. As a result, hundreds are finding healing and release after years of living in spiritual bondage—among them are many young women, like Aicha, who have suffered deep soul wounds.

Early Trauma

Aicha was born into a family that practiced West Africa’s majority religion. Her mom, Lamarana*, worked hard tending their livestock.

When Aicha was a toddler, Lamarana had an apparent demonic encounter when she went searching for a cow in a wooded area, a forbidden location her people refer to as a “devil’s house.” She later described the incident: “I felt something hit me on the head and heard what sounded like a gunshot; I felt immediately cold.”

Lamarana became quite ill after the incident. She was taken to the hospital, prayed over by the local religious leaders, and treated with traditional medicine. Because she never fully recovered, her daughter was sent to live with an aunt.

“A Woman’s Life Is Hard”

Ruth, who ministers at the Alliance church the author attends, with Aicha at her recent baptism.

So began a life of hardship for Aicha. Because girls are considered of less value than boys in this culture, they have few opportunities to receive an education and often are forced to begin working at a young age. Aicha was no exception; her aunt required her to spend long hours in the local market selling produce.

At the tender age of 7, Aicha suffered the trauma of female genital mutilation. An estimated 97 percent of girls in Guinea endure this traditional, brutal practice—it is typically their initiation into understanding that “a women’s life is hard.”

When she was 12, Aicha was sent off to work as a domestic laborer in the capital city to earn money to help support Lamarana. Soon after her move, the preteen began experiencing terrifying dreams of a giant “husband of the night” who repeatedly raped her. At one point, Aicha dreamed she was married to this demon and had children who appeared to her as monsters. She also began to experience demonic fits, falling to the ground and writhing and thrashing violently. When a person is thrown into one of these fits, they’re unaware of what is happening in the real world. When they regain their senses, it is of course embarrassing. “I was always fearful I would have a fit in public,” Aicha says.

As the years passed, Aicha’s terrifying dreams increased in intensity. She was so deeply tormented that her family took her to the local religious leader to see if he could help. Nothing changed.

God Hears

But God began to gently woo this young woman to Himself. A work colleague recognized Aicha was demonized and suggested she attend church. Although she didn’t act on the suggestion, she says the idea lingered in the back of her mind.

One day Aicha was walking to work when a stranger offered to give her a ride. He was playing Christian music on his car radio, which prompted her to ask him, “Do you know if other people have husbands or wives of the night?” Concerned for her well-being, the man put the young woman in contact with Ruth, a minister at the Alliance church my husband and I attend.

A Ray of Hope

By this time Aicha was desperate. Now believing that only Christians could help her, she visited Ruth in her home and shared her story. When Ruth prayed with her, Aicha recalls, “It was the first time in a long while that I had felt at peace.”

That evening Aicha returned to her home where she lived with her brother. Once again, she became nervous and fearful, but this time she wasn’t discouraged. There was now a ray of hope—she knew she had started down the right road. And Ruth had committed to walk alongside her on her journey to freedom, telling her to call anytime—day or night.

After meeting with Ruth a few times, Aicha had a dream about Jesus. Ruth was in the dream as well, and Jesus was hovering at the foot of her bed, telling Ruth to care for Aicha as her daughter. “The dream was in a language I didn’t know, but I somehow understood every word,” she recalls.

Aicha soon began attending our church. This was about the time Stephen and a Canadian ministry colleague, Michel, began teaching on soul care, and they found Aicha writhing on the floor. That night, they prayed with Aicha to receive full deliverance and she finally experienced peace.

But Satan wasn’t content to let the young woman go. She began again to dream of the husband of the night, although he was no longer a giant and the children didn’t look like monsters. This time, Aicha realized this was Satan’s way of trying to tempt her to return to him. She renounced these dreams and again experienced freedom.

Complete Freedom

Aicha’s baptism was a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ. One of the men baptizing her is from the church she attends. The other, instrumental in her discipleship, pastors new believers from her people group who are previous followers of her family’s religion.

One day though, when she began to again recite the prayers of her family’s religion, Satan took the foothold she gave him and one of the demon children returned in her dreams. We again met with Aicha and prayed through these issues with her. Since that time, she has experienced complete freedom.

Aicha continues to grow in the Lord and to study His Word. And it is amazing to see the joy and peace on her face. She has had no persecution from her family—they are still so relieved she is no longer tormented by evil spirits. But they are beginning to question her. When Aicha was recently baptized, she shared a beautiful song she had written—her prayer for Jesus to touch her family and tribe.

We are continually amazed as we witness God work through soul care to bring healing—for Aicha and so many others He’s longed to comfort and restore.

*Names changed

Soul Care in Guinea

Primarily a discipleship tool, Rob Reimer’s book, Soul Care, teaches biblical principles for overcoming broken and sinful areas of life to grow in deeper relationship with Christ. Topics include intimacy with God, lies, repentance, family sin patterns, healing emotional wounds, forgiveness, overcoming fears, and deliverance from demonic oppression.

We’ve been shocked and grieved by the level of abuse, betrayal, trauma, and brokenness—and the deep healing needed—among those we’ve encountered through this ministry. This is especially evident among girls and women, who face many injustices in this country. Polygamy is prevalent, and sexual molestation and rape of young girls is quite common; the abortion rate is about 75 percent.

We’ve found that most of the females who undergo deliverance through soul care have been raped. Often they do not recognize it as rape since this abuse is so prevalent here.

We have now participated in 15 soul care conferences; Stephen and Michel estimate they have taught more than 2,000 people, many of whom have found joyous freedom in Christ. We’re so grateful for Michel and his wife, Denise, who focuses on ministering to women, communicating their value, God’s deep love for them, forgiveness for past mistakes—and hope.

Stephen and I have continued with soul care but now concentrate primarily on spiritual formation and mentoring church leaders. We’re thrilled to see Guinean pastors taking ownership of this ministry. One recently testified, “The atmosphere in my church has changed since we have taught soul care. Before, people would hold grudges and unforgiveness. Now they are quick to address issues with one another, offer forgiveness, and not allow anger and bitterness to grow.”

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