Withdraw to Advance?

A civil crisis opens doors for God’s grace


Crowds filled the streets of Conakry, the capital of Guinea, West Africa, causing drivers to make quick detours down unfamiliar roads or wait it out with the hope of avoiding the confrontation. Gunfire was heard throughout the city as dozens of people were killed and many more were wounded. Rumors of a coup began to circulate. Amid the increasing turmoil, the decision was made to gather Alliance missionaries to attend a preplanned conference in neighboring Senegal a few days early.

As we traveled to Senegal, our minds were filled with questions. How can God be honored in a political situation so desperate that civil war is a real possibility? How can God’s grace abound amidst the corruption and strife? And what will happen in the local churches while we are in Senegal?

Richer and Poorer

The Republic of Guinea has been through difficult days this year, starting when a general strike was declared last spring. The country’s economy was spiraling down and out of control— the value of its currency dropped more than 50 percent while prices of basic commodities rose more than 400 percent. Since salaries, however, remained basically the same, many people had little choice but to cut back to eating very simply and less often.

In the midst of this crisis, many government officials and businessmen were getting rich through corruption and extortion. Finally, union leaders decided that enough was enough and began calling for strikes. At first their demands went unheeded. But when the general populace joined the unions on the streets in protest, the government made heavy-handed attempts to squash the dissent. As the C&MA mission staff, along with other expatriates, saw the need to leave the country, God used our withdrawal to help advance His Kingdom in Guinea.

National Treasures

While there was fighting in the streets of Guinea’s cities, there also was disagreement in the national church. A difficult crisis was resolved through a change in leadership, including the selection of a new president, Samuel Kamano. Kamano is not only the man that God has chosen to bring healing to the national church, but he also has been instrumental in finding a resolution to the conflict between the unions and the government. He and several other religious leaders served as negotiators between the factions.
God takes what seems like a setback and uses the situation to bring about a much greater good than we could have imagined. Since the political crisis national church leaders have received a great deal of respect from other Guineans, and there is more curiosity about Christ in the country. After the conflict was resolved, Kamano was given the opportunity to speak on national television and preached the Word with boldness.

Homeward Bound

As a team we were preparing for the worst—not being able to return to our work of love among the various people groups of Guinea—when God in His pleasure brought about a change in the government. We were making plans for a long absence from Guinea when He opened the doors for us to return in just a few days. The majority of us were able to go back to our homes and minister God’s love to a people who were hurting. This strategic withdrawal helped us to realize that God is still in control and His plans in Guinea are not finished.

Here in the Timbi region, God is doing a new thing, too. While we were gone, our forest believers began a ministry of visitation and prayer for their neighbors and those being troubled by oppression and sickness. One is “Mary,” a girl who was almost totally incapacitated by demonic oppression. She couldn’t walk or speak, but through prayer she was able to renounce her sins and throw away her “medicines.” She now walks and speaks without any hesitation. Mary is completely healed.

Approximately 7 to 10 people attended our Sunday morning worship before the unrest, but since the beginning of April, that number has swelled to 20 to 40. What is very interesting is that all of these people are new to us. Before the near-disaster of civil war, we never had contact with them in our daily activities at the computer/English center we operate or in town.

Almost every week people ask us to come to their houses to pray for them, and in doing so we have an open invitation to speak about the true sacrifice for their sins, Jesus Christ. God is beginning to build His Church among the Fula people. There is much to do yet as there are more than 80,000 people in this area alone.

Many times, what we may think is a reverse in the direction that we believe God wants us to go is perhaps the very path that will lead us to a fuller and more fruitful ministry than we ever imagined. When Jesus died on the cross, Satan was rejoicing in victory. The disciples were in the throes of remorse and dejection. The Jews were elated that their thorn in the side was silenced. But God knew that Sunday was coming! He turned what seemed the biggest defeat into the greatest victory ever won. God is in the business of building His Kingdom. Let us not grow weary in working both here in Guinea and there wherever you may be.

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