Feature

The Leading Edge

Alliance Education in Africa

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Today, if you were to meet Charlotte and Samuel Kondano, all you would see is a happy and talented young couple preparing to teach God’s Word in Africa. They study at West Africa Alliance Seminary (known in French as La Faculté de Théologie Evangélique de l’Alliance Chrétienne, or FATEAC) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and pray for friends and family daily.

But it wasn’t always that way.

Nightmare Man

Charlotte comes from a Muslim family in Guekegou, Guinea, West Africa. Her father has three wives, who, as is typical, don’t always get along. Things started to go wrong one day when Charlotte was in junior high school. While studying, she became hungry for a snack. With no food in the house, she started rummaging in her stuff to find a little money that may have been dropped or forgotten. She found 100 guinea francs (worth about 2 cents) and a ring. She pocketed the ring and bought a snack with the money.

Charlotte & Samuel Kondano

That night a man came to her in a dream saying that he had bought her with the money and the ring and that she was now his wife. For three days this man tormented her both while she was sleeping and awake. She would scratch herself, fall down and act uncontrollably. Even though the crisis passed, the man kept coming to her at night. Her health deteriorated, and she dropped out of school. Her parents were very worried, but neither their religious leader in the mosque nor the traditional healer could help.

A Christian friend invited Charlotte to sing in the church choir, so one evening, she hid in the bushes near her house. Her parents called, but she didn’t give herself away. After they went inside, she snuck off to church. She enjoyed the choir, and the man didn’t bother her there, so she kept sneaking off to church.

It wasn’t long before her father found out. He said that if church helped her, she could continue. His wives, however, were not pleased at all. Charlotte’s mother wanted to take her back to her grandfather, an Islamic teacher. One of the other wives spoke a curse—that Charlotte would never bear children. Nonetheless, Charlotte persisted in going to church.

A Promise Remembered

Meanwhile, Samuel, her future husband, was growing up 50 miles down the road in Kissidougou. His family had only recently returned from Liberia, where they had fled during the horrific reign of Ahmed Sékou Touré, the first president of Guinea. Back in their homeland, Samuel’s father became a pastor, and Samuel directed the church choir. He was a golden boy, succeeding in everything he tried and pleasing everyone.

In the Guinea educational system, a student has to pass exams to enter high school. That is when Samuel failed at something for the first time. So Samuel prayed to God, promising that if he could get into high school, he would become a pastor. On the second attempt, he passed, but he quickly forgot his prayer.

Samuel went to the country’s capital, Conakry, for high school. Although he continued to attend church, most of his focus was on school. He succeeded but saw his family members suffer as they tried to live on a pastor’s wage. So, having long forgotten his prayer to become a pastor, he studied law to help his family. The academic requirements of college didn’t overwhelm Samuel, but surprisingly, he wanted to do evangelism more than study. After three years, he renewed his prayer to become a pastor.

About this time, he met Charlotte at church in Conakry, where she also had gone to study. She had accepted Jesus but still wore bracelets and waist jewelry that were thought to protect her from spirits. In Conakry, she learned that these fetishes showed a lack of trust in the power of Jesus over every spirit. That day, she removed the spiritual jewelry and, after Samuel prayed, was free of the spirit that had been tormenting her for so long.

Dan Ibsen, Canadian C&MA missionary to Guinea, encouraged Samuel and Charlotte to attend FATEAC, so three weeks after their wedding, they left for Abidjan.

Trained for Leadership

FATEAC was created by the C&MA churches of Africa to train the top layer of African leaders, who then will influence the continent through Bible institutes, denominational leadership and pastoral ministry. Today, FATEAC’s board, top administration and the majority of teachers are Africans. More than 200 Africans have received some level of training and have spread out over 14 African nations to do ministry. The Great Commission Fund still contributes a large part of the seminary’s operating budget and provides scholarships for the C&MA African students. After 15 years in existence, we’re seeing fruit, but not just for the C&MA. FATEAC is training leaders for 17 denominations.

Samuel and Charlotte are almost finished at FATEAC. His master’s thesis is written, and he is excitedly finishing his last couple of courses. They are looking forward to returning to Guinea to begin a teaching ministry. Charlotte is an example of someone who understood the power of God through the teaching of the Word. That understanding enabled her to remove the spiritually “empowered” jewelry. Samuel lived in disobedience to his call until he finally submitted. Together, this couple wants to help others understand the importance of living a life of obedience to God.

Although FATEAC and the educational ministry of The Alliance have done a great service to prepare the Kondanos for ministry, pray that the Holy Spirit will accomplish great things through them and the other graduates of the seminary.

A New Generation

Antonio de Costa Poba cannot be stopped in spite of the difficulties. His country, Angola, like many in Africa, is haunted by conflict, and his national church is fighting its own civil war. One of his twin daughters needs epilepsy medicine daily, and there is never enough money to make ends meet. Though he isn’t yet 40 years old, Antonio’s story begins more than a century ago in a tiny corner of the Portuguese Congo.

In 1885, A. B. Simpson sent missionaries to Africa’s Congo region, and they landed in what would later become Angola. One of their first converts was Antonio’s great grandfather. Although the leader of that small group died from disease, those first missionaries taught Antonio’s great grandfather the Bible and how to lead others to salvation through Jesus Christ.

Antonio’s ancestor continued the missionaries’ work. The church grew, and the people bought property in the interior to build more churches and started a Bible school to train new pastors. There is a glorious 120-year history of the C&MA in Angola—largely without missionary aid. But over the years, the church split. The Bible school has almost no resident teachers and none with formal training beyond that same school.

Antonio, the church president’s son, is bright and young. A plan was conceived to send him to FATEAC so that he could teach in the Bible school and lead the church forward to evangelize Angola. After spending six months learning French, Antonio arrived at FATEAC in fall 2003.

It was difficult for Antonio, but his trademark smile rarely left his face. He knew that his training was important for the future of the Angolan church. He needed to learn how to correctly interpret the Bible so he could teach others, how to understand a culture so he could guide the church and how to lead a church in order to bring reconciliation. He studied hard in a language he barely knew, in a country he had never visited, without family, wife or children.

In 2007, Antonio finished his studies. His master’s degree in Bible represents an infusion of trained leadership back into the national C&MA church of Angola, the exponential expansion of disciples on the continent and a greater impact on the global Kingdom of God as Africa has a growing role.

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