Redeemed from the Curse

Finding Joy and healing through His Name


“They’ve put a curse on my daughter that no medicine can cure.”

I was dead tired. The Koutiala Hospital for Women and Children had been dedicated two days earlier. It had been a wonderful event full of praise and worship for what God had done and was going to do in Mali, West Africa. It had been a busy time full of the hustle and bustle of entertaining guests from multiple countries; a work team from Oil City Community Alliance Church was camping in my house and yard.

I was tired and my only concern was to get some sleep. So when I heard the knock on the gate, I quickly turned off the lights, indicating to the night guard that I did not want to be disturbed. Nevertheless, seconds later I heard the guard greeting me. “Abigail, Mr. Henri is here. He really needs to speak with you. His daughter has just arrived from Bamako and is very sick.”


Mr. Henri, a gendarme who lives in the yard next to mine, started into a complicated tale of a daughter who had rebuffed a man she had been engaged to. At some point there had been a pregnancy and abortion. According to Mr. Henri, because his daughter refused to marry him, the man had “put a curse” on her. She had sought care at various hospitals in Bamako but had been told that her sickness was a curse that sorcery—not modern medicine—could cure.

I quickly called a pastor from the work team and a missionary neighbor to come with me to the Henri home while the rest of the work team prayed. As we entered the small room and found Laila lying on a mat, it didn’t take long to figure out what “curse” this man had given my neighbor’s daughter. She had all the signs of advanced AIDS. She was emaciated like a concentration camp victim and complained of unremitting vomiting and diarrhea. She screamed in pain as I helped her to sit up so I could examine her. I wasn’t sure what kind of medicine I could find at this hour. I explained to the pastor that prayer was the most important work at this time—it would be a miracle if this young lady would live through the night.

The pastor talked with Laila, and then I spoke to her about Jesus Christ and the healing that is found in Him both for the body and the soul. Together, we prayed for her. I was amazed that her family agreed, and I later found that the father had come specifically because he’d hoped that we would pray for her. Several months earlier I had prayed with him for healing. He said that he didn’t know what it was, but “something happened in me when she was praying.” He believed that his daughter could be healed, and through a Christian’s prayer, she would receive hope.

Power in His Name

I talked with Laila about the causes of sickness from original sin, personal sin and curses from others. God gave me freedom as I told her about the power found in Jesus’ Name and the redemptive power of the work accomplished at Calvary. I talked with her about the forgiveness that is found in Jesus. As we left, I asked Laila if she understood the words that we had shared. “Aren’t you going to give me an IV?” she replied.

We went home and continued to pray. Soon after breakfast we headed back to the Henri family. I was happy to find that Laila, though lying in bed, seemed stronger and was able to drink, although obviously she was still very ill. I brought more medicine but felt impressed that it would not be the drugs that would heal her. I spoke again about her need to repent and to ask God to forgive her and of the power found in Jesus’ Name. I shared how she could become a child of God and asked her to spend the day thinking of ways that she had offended Him and asking God to forgive her “in Jesus’ Name.” I requested that she ask Him to not only heal her but also bring her a new and eternal life. I was surprised to hear her mother’s voice behind me. “Do you hear what Abigail is saying? You make sure you do exactly what she tells you.”

God of Miracles

Walking home, I felt a heavy weight as I contemplated the likely outcome of all this. Lord, I’ve been praying that you would heal a girl of AIDS! O Lord, what am I thinking? AIDS! I know you can heal it, but I’m not sure that you will. I believe . . . but Lord, help my unbelief.

Thoughts continued to go through my head. How am I going to explain this to the family when she dies? This could be really embarrassing. God quickly assured me that He is capable of caring for His own reputation. I was responsible only to be faithful in the work that He gives me.

The next day, I stopped by the Henri home before leaving for Bamako and was happy to find Laila doing even better. I reminded her of our conversation. Again she responded, “When are you going to give me an IV?”

I was amazed several days later as I returned home. A young girl was walking up the street to meet me. God of miracles! It was Laila. She thanked me for the care I had given to her. How could I explain that she was not better because of me or the medicine?

Laila Is Found

The next day I went back to see Laila. Again I explained about Jesus Christ and that my trust was in Him, that He was the perfect man who came to be a perfect sacrifice to overcome all of the power of sin and sickness in the world. It was He who healed her. I prayed the sinner’s prayer with her, but I wasn’t certain she fully understood the commitment behind those words. However, I was encouraged later as I sat with her family. I told them that it was a miracle from God that she was doing so well. Laila responded, “Ka barika da Yesus ye.’’ I thought, Did I hear that right? Did she just say, “Praise to Jesus!”?

I was amazed to watch Laila grow in love. She enjoyed visiting me and my neighbors and often requested that I pray for her. I suggested that she could pray for herself, but she said she “didn’t know how to pray,” so we studied the Lord’s Prayer. Several months later, I went with her to tell the pastor that she wanted to become a Christian. As Laila officially accepted Christ that day, the pastor suggested that she choose a Christian name. She loved the idea and asked me to choose it. I named her Nyagali, which means “Joy.”

Soon after, Joy traveled with me to Bamako. When I dropped her off at her sister’s home, her sister met her, leaping in excitement. This sister had sent Joy to her parents’ home in Koutiala when she thought Joy had only a few days to live.

Joy’s sister introduced her someone else who had AIDS. Joy assured the woman, called Mama, that she should come to Koutiala because we “prayed for people with AIDS, and they were healed.” Mama arrived at the Koutiala Hospital for Women and Children the next week and also accepted Christ. Mama, who is blind from AIDS-related illness, believes that Jesus is going to restore her sight. Mama’s sister came to help while she was in Koutiala and went to church with her. She agreed to read the Bible to Mama. Now Mama and her sister are attending church in Bamako with a schoolmate of Mama’s sister.


Joy has continued to share about the power found in Jesus. One evening she brought Sisi to me because Sisi also wanted to become a Christian. We continue to disciple Sisi as she attends church each Sunday.

Spiritually, Joy is growing but still struggles. While her family initially listened to her talk about Jesus, they soon forbade her to speak of Him. However, she shared about Jesus with her siblings, and one of her sisters came to church with us one Sunday. Joy assured me that her father had agreed. Sadly, her sister’s mother (their father’s second wife; polygamy is accepted in Mali) disapproved and beat the girl when she returned home. Often, this wife finds work for Joy to keep her from coming to church.

Joy continues to have health concerns. She has had six months of treatment for tuberculosis of the lymph glands in her neck. The condition almost caused her to stop breathing due to pressure on her windpipe. She continues to need daily medicine to control infections of her intestinal system. Through it all, she remains confident in Christ as the One who is able to overcome sickness and bring her to full health.

How beautiful it has been to be able to share with the Henri family that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’ He redeemed us…so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (Gal. 3:13–14).

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