Nzohabonimana Eudia (pronounced Zo-ha-bo-nee-ma-na Ay-yu-dee-ah) was one of the women who attended our leaders’ conference over the weekend in Bujumbura. Everyone calls her “Mama Deo,” and I’m thankful for that, as that is much easier than calling her Nzohabonimana Eudia. She’s 40 years old, but doesn’t know her birthdate. Her parents, being illiterate, only told her the year of her birth. Like 75% of the other women in Burundi, she can’t read. By looking at her, you would never suspect that she’s a powerhouse for God.
Mama Deo’s husband died 12 years ago from a heart attack, leaving her with 4 children to care for. She lives in a village of about 5,000 people in Rugombo Province. Only a few people there own cars, and only one person owns cows. Everyone grows their own food.
When believers first shared the gospel with Mama Deo, she was resistant. Her husband had just died. Where was God? It was not long after that, however, when an inoperable tumor was discovered in her womb. She allowed local Christians to pray for her healing. Each day after that she felt the tumor shrinking, until after 7 days it was gone. She gave her life to Jesus.
That was about 11 years ago. Mama Deo began attending a Protestant church in her village, but didn’t find true spiritual life there. After attending for 5 years, she felt that God gave her a prophecy for the pastors that they should repent and be born again. They responded by excommunicating her.
Wounded, she never attended another church and just stayed home and prayed with her 4 children. Prayer became a central part of her life.
Fast forward to 2 years ago when Mama Deo met an on-fire pastor named Pascal Niyigaba (who was also at our conference this weekend) from her same province. Pascal had been a former influential lay leader in the Roman Catholic church, but was excommunicated when he began questioning certain unbiblical practices. Since his excommunication, he has planted 4 churches in homes. Mama Deo was thrilled to find a like-minded saint who could teach her, and Pascal began to disciple her with the help of a book titled, The Disciple-Making Minister. (Mama Deo eventually obtained her own copy, which one of her children reads to her.)
Mama Deo never learned that God doesn’t use women to build His Kingdom, and the Lord began to use her in a healing ministry. Sick people started coming to her for prayer, and they often left her little house healed, or were healed within days. Her reputation grew, and in the past 2 years hundreds of people have streamed to her little house for healing prayer. These days, she told me she prays for at least 20 people every day. She never accepts money from them, lest people think that healing can be purchased from God. She tells every sick person about Jesus and calls them to repent of their sins. If they are healed, she instructs them to go home and tell everyone their testimony as well as the gospel.
Hundreds have been saved. Scores of churches have been planted. Mama Deo told me that those churches have no one to lead them, and she has no way to get to them. So she prays for them.
I asked her to tell me about some of the most amazing healings she has seen. She told me about a “crazy man” named Daniel who was delivered, restored, saved, and who has since planted 6 churches in his region.
Then she told me about the time some people brought a dead body to her house.
In a village about an hour from her, a man fell over as he was walking along, saying something had bitten him. He started losing consciousness, and 2 hours later, around 6 PM, he wasn’t breathing. It was concluded that he was dead, and his family members tearfully began preparing for his burial, deciding to bury him around 11 AM the following morning. That next morning, however, the dead man’s daughter, who was a believer, and who had been healed of barrenness due to Mama Deo’s prayers, walked an hour to Mama Deo’s to ask if she would pray over her father’s dead body. Mama Deo agreed because the day before during a prayer meeting she had heard a voice tell her, “I have a special prayer meeting for you tomorrow.”
So the dead man’s daughter walked back to her village and told her story to her family. Very reluctantly, and just to satisfy her, they agreed to carry her father’s body to Mama Deo’s house. They arrived there around 3 PM.
Mama Deo and her group of prayer warriors prayed over the body for 2 hours. Finally, Mama Deo lifted the body up, stood it on its feet, and commanded it to walk in Jesus’ name. The body coughed! Then the dead man opened his eyes and said, “I was dead! I was on a long, dreadful journey!” Mama Deo led him to Christ. He later moved to another province to preach the gospel there.
Even if the man wasn’t actually dead, it was still a pretty good story I thought! Mama Deo told me 2 other stories of people who were resurrected that were almost as amazing as the first one.
Because she’s so popular, Mama Deo has been persecuted by church leaders, who accuse her of splitting their churches. They’ve reported her to local authorities for having unauthorized church meetings in her house, and she has even been accused of practicing witchcraft and human sacrifice. Consequently, she’s twice been put in jail for a few days, and the authorities have locked up her house until she can obtain legal permission to continue her ministry.
Now she, her children (ages 22, 20, and 17—one is deceased), as well as 4 orphans whom she’s been caring for (ages 20, 17, 15, 11) have been forced to live with other believers who open up their homes. Mama Deo continues to pray for the sick in various locations, working undercover. I was so happy to be able to promise her $400 from Heaven’s Family’s Widows & Abandoned Women Fund to help her rent her own house, plus some additional money via our Widows Micro-Bank to help her and her children start a business that can sustain them. It’s not every day that you meet someone like Mama Deo.