Jim Cymbala

B. Childress
Aug 04 2013

A while ago, our church started a new ministry to special needs children and their parents.  Annes Mogoli has been the
passion behind that ministry, providing the energy, time, and excitement to get it off the ground and keep it running.  She
has done a remarkable job with few resources in a ministry that presents new physical and emotional challenges on a
weekly basis.  But Annes leaves each Sunday wondering what else she can do to serve those children and their
families.  That is remarkable considering that Annes has a full-time job and she’s a single mother raising six kids.

Annes’s tireless passion flows from an outpouring of her thankfulness to God for answering her prayers, along with
those of our church when she and her children needed it most.


I was twenty-four years old, single, and pregnant, and I didn’t want to raise my child under the same negative influences I
had growing up.  That meant I had to leave Grenada.  My parents were both heavy drinkers.  My father even forced me
to buy alcohol for him while I was still in school.  He often said cruel things to me, and I didn’t stop him.  I was the quiet
one in the family, and I didn’t speak up for myself.  But for my baby, I wanted more than the kind of life I grew up with.  I
decided to move to America, hoping that I would give my baby and me a fresh start.

Someone bought me a plane ticket to New York, and my cousin and another friend helped me find a job and get settled.
A few months later, I gave birth to a son, and I named him Alex.  I found an apartment, and I got a job as a nursing
assistant.  I was determined to do whatever it took to make my new life work for my son and me.

In the apartment below me lived Roses, a Christian woman who was a nurse.  We would talk about work, but she also
started telling me about the Lord.  She and her daughter would ask me if I wanted to go to church with them.  At first I
refused.  But as my son got older, I decided it would be good for him to go to Sunday school.  We went to a little church
on Linden Boulevard in Queens.  On my first day there, I reached out to Jesus.  I wish I could tell you that I walked with
the Lord from that day on, but I didn’t.  I would attend church for a while, then I’d fall away, then go back, and then I’d
stop again.

Around that time, I met a handsome man from Nigeria, and we started dating.  Eventually he moved in with me.  Two
pregnancies quickly followed.  I gave birth to a son we named Melvin, and then to a daughter we named Ngozi.  My friend
Roses visited me soon after Ngozi was born.  “You’re not getting away from me,” she said.  “I don’t care how cold it is
outside.  Get the baby wrapped up on Sunday, because I’m picking you up and taking you to church.”

Though it was unusually cold for a November Sunday, it was warm inside the church – warm from the love of the people.  
I started attending regularly.

As I learned more about the Bible, I realized that I was in a sinful relationship with my boyfriend.  On top of that, he was
verbally abusive.  He often said things like, “You’re so ugly.  And you’re fat.”  His hurtful words brought back memories of
my father, and his constant verbal abuse robbed me of my self-esteem.  But church was different – people hugged me
and loved me.  As I grew, I knew it was time to make a change.  I prayed to God to help me get out of the life I was living.

But before I could make a change, I was pregnant again and gave birth to my fourth child, a daughter I named Ije.  I knew
I couldn’t leave my boyfriend now.  Besides, who would want me?  Roses saw how discouraged I was, and she suggested
that we start attending prayer meetings at the Brooklyn Tabernacle.  I worked near the church, so on Tuesdays I would
pay the babysitter extra to keep the kids while I attended the prayer meeting.  At those meetings, I opened up my heart
to the Lord and cried out to him about my life.  On Sundays I attended the regular services, bringing my kids with me to
attend the BT Kids services.  Once again I knew the way I was living wasn’t pleasing the Lord and that I needed to do
something about it.  I thought perhaps getting a commitment from my boyfriend would fix things.

“I can’t live this way anymore,” I told him.  “It’s not right for me to live with a man if I am not married to him.”

“Okay, so we’ll get married,” he said.

I was excited that finally I would get things right before God.  And I truly thought that once we were married, things would
get better between us, but nothing changed.  Even though he was now my husband, he continued to belittle and berate

One day he came home and said he’d found a job in New Jersey.  He wanted to live there during the week so he could
be closer to his office.  On weekends he would come home.  I was worried.  That wasn’t the way most marriages worked,
and with four kids and a full-time job, I depended on his help on the rare occasions he offered it.  But his mind was made
up, and I could only agree with his decision.  So I worked and took care of the kids by myself during the week.

At least I was still close to my church.  It was my faith that sustained me during those exhausting days.  God gave me an
inner strength, and he guided me on how to be a good mother even though I never had a role model to learn from.  For
example, his Spirit led me to read to my babies and to tell them about Jesus.  And every time the door was open at
church, we were there.  God used the people of the Brooklyn Tabernacle to bless me spiritually and occasionally

I got pregnant again, and this time something went terribly wrong during the delivery.  I called my husband’s home and
his office in New Jersey, but I couldn’t find him anywhere, so I went to the hospital alone.  I could feel something was
wrong, yet the doctors went ahead and induced labor.  The baby was huge, and when he dropped, he dropped so low
that they could no longer do a C-section.  And now he was stuck – he was too big to pass through the birth canal on his
own.  I lay on the table, prayed, and cried out to Jesus.

About that time, the song being played in the delivery room changed and a new song came on.  It was
We Come
, and it was sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle choir!  It was a sign.  Lord, I know you’re here with me.  I kept
praying silently.  Finally, I heard the doctor say, “We have an emergency.  We can’t get this baby out.”

“Jesus!” was all I could say as the pain grew stronger.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a figure in the hall.  He entered the room and asked for some gloves.  I shook from the
pain, but somehow the doctor reached in and positioned the baby so that he came out.  Elijah was eleven pounds and
one ounce.  But something had gone wrong during the delivery.  As soon as he was out, he began having seizures.
Someone asked if I had been using drugs.  “No!  I’ve never done drugs,” I told them.  But they didn’t listen and they took
Elijah away from me.

I had four kids at home with a babysitter, my husband couldn’t be found, and now they had implied that I was a drug
user!  I did the only thing I knew to do: I prayed.  
Father, you know my heart, and you’re my Deliverer.  I need you right
now.  God, I’m going to dedicate this baby to you.  When they put him in my arms, I’m going to consecrate him to you
right here in the hospital

They had taken Elijah away to do drug testing, but before long, they were back.  The tests had all been negative.  “You
can see your baby now,” a nurse said.

When I saw Elijah for the first time, he looked like a football player.  He was huge!  I touched his head and prayed over
him.  I dedicated his head, his hands, his feet – everything about him – to the Lord.

At the time, they weren’t sure what caused the seizures.  Later I would find out that his unusual birth had caused
trauma.  His shoulder had been injured during the delivery, and he sustained damage to his entire left side.  Months
later, a doctor would diagnose him with Erb’s palsy.

Someone at the hospital advised me to call an attorney before I left the hospital.  “There’s a lot going on here,” they
warned.   I had no idea who to call, but the Holy Spirit prompted me to call the church.  They recommended I talk to a
woman who sang in the choir.  Her name was Esther, and she was an attorney.

Esther filed a lawsuit against the hospital, and it took a long time before they finally settled.  But in the meantime, I kept
praying for my son.  For the first five years of his life, he never spoke a word; he only made noises and drooled.  His
hands turned under, and he couldn’t stretch out his fingers.  I prayed and had other people praying for Elijah.  And God
answered our prayers.  The Holy Spirit used other people to direct me to Mount Sinai Medical Center, one of the best
hospitals in the world.  After lots of therapy, a surgery, and much prayer, the damage was reversed.  Today Elijah is a
healthy twelve-year-old who won’t stop talking!  He is in the seventh grade and getting fantastic grades and thriving in
every way.  Looking back, I now see how God used that time with Elijah to prepare me for what was to come next.

Once again, I got pregnant.  The enemy messed with my mind, saying things like, “You can never have this baby.  Look
at all the problems you have already.  Think about how your husband is treating you.  How can you have another child?”

At church one morning, I walked into the service with my head hanging down.
 I can’t let anyone know I am pregnant
.  But during the message, out of nowhere, Pastor Cymbala said, “There’s a woman here whom the enemy is
attacking in her mind about her pregnancy.  But the Lord wants you to know that if you have that baby, you will be
blessed.”  That was the sign I needed.  I held my head up high as I left church.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I spent
even more time in prayer, often closing my bathroom door as I wept and called out to the Lord.

A little over a year after Elijah was born, I gave birth to my sixth child, Joel.  God continued to use the church to bless
me.  One night I wanted to come to the prayer meeting in the worst way, but I didn’t have any money to get home.  I
decided to walk, putting Joel in the stroller and having Elijah stand on the back of the stroller.  That would get me there,
but how would I get home?  It would be too dangerous to walk that far at night.  All the way there I prayed, “Lord, I want to
go to church.  You provide a way for me to get back home.

That night, the pastor said, “I know there are people in desperate financial need here tonight.  If you’re in need, stand up
so the church can pray for you.”  I stood and lifted my hands.  A lady on the other side of the room came over to me and
handed me twenty dollars.

“The Lord told me to come and give this to you,” she said.

I cried for joy, because God had answered my prayer.  I had never met the woman before, and I didn’t even learn her
name that night.  But I did notice that she had a long braid that hung down her back.

Time passed and we were making it by the grace of God.  Joel was almost two and Ngozi, my oldest daughter, was nine
when one January morning Ngozi called to me from her bedroom.

“Mommy, Mommy, come quick.  I can’t walk!”

I rushed in and tried to help her up from the floor.  But she really couldn’t walk.  She had been fine the night before, but
that morning she was completely paralyzed.  What had happened?  What was I supposed to do now?  I had already felt
overwhelmed.  The doctors were still trying to help Elijah, Joel had been diagnosed with asthma and had almost died
once, and my husband was of absolutely no help.  Now Ngozi couldn’t walk?  I picked up the phone and called the
church.  I always called the church before I called the doctor.

I also called Esther, who by now was like a part of the family.  She was also an incredible prayer warrior.  She called
Pastor Cymbala, and together they tried to find a doctor to help Ngozi.  Was it a physical injury?  Or perhaps some kind
of an emotional problem?  There had been a lot of stress in our home lately.

I made an appointment with a rheumatologist at Mount Sinai, the center that helped Elijah so much, and they ran a full
battery of tests.  He even gave her a full body scan, but they couldn’t find any cause for her paralysis.  They were

Ngozi started missing a lot of school.  Eventually the board of education began questioning me.  Then child welfare
services started asking questions.  No one could believe what was happening to Ngozi, because she had been perfectly
healthy and then suddenly couldn’t walk.  As her condition worsened, the school had to provide a bus for handicapped
children to take her to and from school.  During the day, they assigned a paraprofessional to move her from room to
room and to the bathroom when necessary.

The stress of Ngozi’s illness began to take a toll on my marriage.  My husband would say some strange things like, “Why
did we have all these kids anyway?”  I couldn’t understand what was going through his mind.  During this time, he came
home less and less.  Eventually he moved to New Jersey permanently, and he divorced me.

I prayed,
Lord, I desperately need you.  I’m on my own now.  You have to help me to be a good mother, and you have to
be my children’s Father.  And you are going to have to heal Ngozi.  You have to heal her
.  I don’t know how I become so
bold in my prayer, other than the fact that I was desperate.  
Lord, I am holding on to you, I know you can do this.  I
begged God to help see us through all that we were facing.

We continued to come to church, even though it was more difficult with Ngozi’s inability to walk.  During the week, I would
scrimp and save money, and then on Sunday mornings, I would dress all of the kids and take the money I had saved and
call a cab.  The cab would drop us off, and a man from the church, Big Willy, would meet us at the door, scoop Ngozi in
his arms, and carry her to the children’s area.  When it was time to go home, Willy would call a cab and then get Ngozi
from the children’s area, bring her down, and gently place her inside the cab.  The Holy Spirit always sent me the exact
people I needed.

But over time, I got tired.  I worked full-time as a nurse’s assistant and took Ngozi to therapy appointments at Mount Sinai
twice a week.  It was important that we continued therapy on her legs so they didn’t atrophy.  Muscles that aren’t used
can cause the foot to turn inward, and that was starting to happen.  The therapy didn’t seem to help much though, and
the doctors still didn’t know what caused her paralysis.  The social workers still suspected some kind of hidden trauma.  
Caring for her was emotionally and physically exhausting.

One Friday morning in July, Esther called and said, “She’s going to walk again.  She’s going to be healed.”

“I’m so tired, Esther,” I said, trying to hold back the tears.  It had been six months since Ngozi’s paralysis, and I could feel
my faith slipping.  I had spent endless hours in my bathroom, weeping and praying for Ngozi to be healed.  

Esther sensed the strain I was under and said, “I can’t leave you alone today.  I can hear how tired you are.”  The Holy
Spirit prompted her to call her clients and cancel all her appointments.  “I’ll drive you to the hospital today.”

A few hours later, Esther picked us up and drove to the medical center.  I could tell she fervently prayed for Ngozi as she
drove.  When we pulled into the parking lot, Esther said, “I feel the Lord wants me to park the car and walk Ngozi around
the block.”

I just stared at her.  I was too tired to argue.  Esther got out of the car and opened the back door.  She took Ngozi’s
hands, and amazingly I saw her leg move a little bit.

“Esther!  Her leg is moving!”

Esther praised God.  Then, holding Ngozi by the hand, she slowly walked Ngozi around the block tiny step after tiny
step.  Then we took her upstairs to see the rheumatologist.   We told him what happened, but he had no explanation.

After the doctor’s appointment, we got back in Esther’s car and drove to the church.  I wanted to meet with the Prayer
Band, a dedicated group of men and women who meet at the church and pray daily for the needs of people in it.

“Annes,” Esther said, “God is going to heal her.”

“I know,” I said.  And I believed it.

At the church, we took Ngozi downstairs to where the Prayer Band had gathered.  Pastor Ware was there.  He laid hands
on her and said, “You’re going to walk in the name of Jesus!”  Then he looked at me and said, “I don’t know what this is,
but she is released.  The chains are broken.  Whatever Satan is trying to do is broken today.”

Prayer Band members placed their hands on Ngozi’s legs and cried out for God to heal her body.  It was such fervent
prayer that I became very emotional.  I watched Ngozi’s face, and for the first time, I saw hope in her eyes.  Although she
wasn’t healed then, my faith increased through their prayers.  She would walk again; I just didn’t know when.

On Tuesday I brought Ngozi to the children’s prayer meeting.  While we were there, the leader explained to the children
that Ngozi wasn’t able to walk.  “Do you believe that if we pray tonight, Ngozi can walk back in here on Sunday?” she
asked.  The kids cheered, and then they bowed their heads and prayed for my daughter.  I was touched by their
precious faith.  Ngozi might not have shown improvement, but their prayers strengthened me.

The next morning as I was getting the kids ready for school, five-year-old Ige came up behind me and said, “Mommy, we
need to pray for Ngozi right now.”

From somewhere inside of me, I received a nudge from the Holy Spirit, telling me that, indeed, we needed to pray
.  I was tired, and I was trying to get the kids ready for school.  We had been praying for months, and intensely for
six days, and nothing had happened.  
Lord, why do you want me to pray again now?

But I called all the kids into the living room, and I said, “Jesus I’m tired.  And I know your plan is to heal Ngozi.  Can you
do it now?”  Something inside of me told me to hold her hands and help her stand.  I reached down and took hold of her

As soon as Ngozi realized I was going to help her stand, she said, “No, Mommy, I can’t.”

“Yes, you can. You’re going to walk.”  I knew it was a foolish thing to say.  Her muscles were weak, and her feet were
turned inward.  Even if she could walk, she would need lots of therapy to correct the position of her feet.  But I said it
again, “You are going to walk

Suddenly her foot turned and straightened!  I couldn’t believe it!  The kids stared as I held her hand and she slowly
stood up.  Suddenly they began to giggle.  “Ngozi’s getting up!” they shouted.

But Ngozi fell back to the floor.   I took her hands again and held them as she once again stood up.  This time she stood
up on her own.  The kids started laughing and jumping up and down.  Then Ngozi started walking on her own.  Her feet
were perfectly straight as she put one foot in front of the other.  The kids couldn’t contain their excitement; Melvin
jumped on the couch as they all shouted and laughed with joy.  I cried; I couldn’t believe I was seeing her walk!  I picked
up the phone and called Esther.  “She’s walking!  She’s really walking!”  I could hear Esther weeping on the other end of
the line.  I knew it was a miracle.  Then I called the church and told them what happened.  That Sunday Ngozi walked into
kids’ church all by herself.  Seeing the excitement on the little faces of the children who had prayed so hard was a
moment I will never forget.

But my blessings didn’t end there.  Ngozi had missed almost two months of school, but after she returned, she caught up
in no time.  She was tested for the gifted program and got accepted into one of the best Junior high school programs in
Brooklyn.  She excelled there, becoming a leader among her peers.  When she graduated, she received a check for
three hundred dollars!  A counselor at her school nominated her for a scholars program, and Ngozi made it to the final
thirty kids.  She was accepted into Emma Willard, one of the oldest and most prestigious schools for girls, where she got
a full scholarship for more than thirty-four thousand dollars a year!  Last summer she spent two weeks playing basketball
for a leadership program at Earth University in Costa Rica – a girl who once couldn’t walk leading others and playing
basketball!  She now attends St. Lawrence University on a full scholarship.

The other kids are all happy and successful too, but perhaps the biggest changes occurred in me.  I no longer work as a
nursing assistant; instead I am a paraprofessional in the schools, helping special needs children.  At church, while
serving in the children’s ministry, I was drawn to the ones who needed special attention and had trouble in group
settings.  Over time I recruited others who came alongside me to start a ministry class for special needs children.  
Exhausted parents can now feel comfortable leaving their children while they attend services to be refreshed by the Lord.

With a one-to-one ratio of adults to children, we have been able to see many wonderful things happen.  One year we
acted out the Christmas story, and while his parents watched, a little boy who couldn’t speak said his first word:

I love those kids.  I especially love the ones who are a challenge, because I know they need the Holy Spirit most.  
Sometimes I call the parents at home, and I say, “I understand what you’re going through.  I don’t know why God healed
mine and he didn’t heal yours or hasn’t healed yours yet.  But I’m going to pray with you and support you.”  The prayers
and support of many people got me through those difficult days when I was so tired.  Now I have a calling on my life to
help others.

One day while I was getting ready to leave church, a woman named Carol who works in Family Ministry, passed by me.  
As I saw her long braid swinging behind her, I was suddenly reminded of a night long ago.  “Carol!” I said.

She turned and looked at me.  “Why are you crying, Annes?”

We now knew each other, but I had never made the connection to that night at the prayer meeting.  “The Lord just
reminded me of something.   Do you remember years ago when you gave a woman a twenty-dollar bill?”

“Yes, I certainly do.  What happened to that woman?  Do you know her?”

By now I was crying so hard I had to choke back my tears to get the words out.  “I was that woman.”

God answers big prayers, like healing a child, and small prayers, like providing cab fare to get home.  Often the Holy
Spirit moves other people to help.  Now my hope is that I will be an answer to prayer for parents who are tired and
struggling to do the best they can for their children.


SPIRIT RISING, by Jim Cymbala with Jennifer Schuchmann, Copyright 2012, Zondervan.