The Gospel of Luke and Mark says Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene. She is most prominent in the narrative of the crucifixion of Jesus, at which she was present. All four gospels place her at the scene of Jesus’ resurrection (though Luke does not list her as a witness), but in Luke 8, Luke named her among other female followers and financial supporters of Jesus’ earthly ministry. She is named at least 12 times, more than most of the apostles. John 20 and Mark 16:9 specifically name her as the first person to see Jesus after His resurrection. She was a prominent representative of the women who followed Jesus. Most gospel scholars considered her as filling a role similar to that of Christ’s male disciples.
After her deliverance from demons, Mary began to follow Jesus everywhere He went. She had found the Messiah, the King worthy of ruling her life! She had no political aspirations in following Him. In her mind, he was the Holy One of Israel who had physically delivered her from the torments of her demons and restored her sanity. Now she eagerly looked to him to give her eternal life as well. So, as long as Jesus walked the roads of Palestine, she followed Him, listened to His words and served Him everywhere He went.
This same spirit of service and appreciation lives in the heart of Sister Mariam Diaby who was delivered from a demon two years ago. Like Mary Magdalene, after Mariam’s deliverance, she devoted her life to the service of the God who delivered her soul from demonic torment. She said, “My mother and my little sister were driven out of our home in Dubréka by my father because of my demon possession. They were my only friends and loyal family. I had no other friends. I was raped by a witch doctor’s son who pretended to help free me from the demon that was tormenting me. When I found out that I was pregnant, I decided to sacrifice the baby as a ransom for my life since my demon wanted a close relative as a ransom for my freedom. Then I met these Adventist Christians whose God was my Deliverer and my Ransom. I am ready to follow Him, to serve Him and to do His will for the rest of my life. My father, who is an imam, has threatened to kill me the day he sets eyes on me. But I am confident that Jesus Who has delivered me from the hands of Satan is more powerful than my father.”
Mariam volunteered to be a deaconess. Since she lives only 400 meters from the church, she volunteers to clean and prepare the church for prayer meetings, vespers and divine services. She approached me with the request that she wanted to sing with the choir before her baptism. She said, “I want to praise God in songs by singing with the choir.” I told her that, according to the church manual, she has to be baptized before she is allowed to sing with the choir. But I took her request to our little church committee, and with the help of the president of our mission station, she was given special permission to sing with our little choir. Mariam has always been faithful with her self-imposed deaconess duties except when she is sick.
In January 2015, she bravely took a stand to be baptized, despite the threat from her father. On the day of her baptism as she stood in the pool with the pastor holding her hands, her smile was radiant with the grace and hope of God. She had been with Jesus, and He had set her soul free. She had found hidden treasure. Immediately after her baptism, I said to her, “I have never seen such a smile on your face.”
She replied, “I have found my Redeemer, and have been finally redeemed.”
As a soul-winner, I have seen over and over that when a person fully accepts Jesus, there is a physical and spiritual transformation that is visible to onlookers. People who knew Mariam before testify that she is remarkably changed. “She was always angry and ready to fight,” they say. “Now she is one of the most gentle Susu ladies in our neighborhood.” These changes created curiosity in Mariam’s mother and younger sister. Jesus said, “I, when I am lifted up, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). Mariam lifted Jesus high in her life, and her mother and sister were drawn to Him and were baptized the same day as Mariam. She is also drawing the young people in her community to Jesus by daily lifting Him up with her meek and gentle character. If we lift up Jesus in our lives, our members, coworkers and our neighbors will be drawn to Him.