Meeting Pastor Joel
One of the things that I knew our trip was going to do for us is give us an understanding that the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is bigger than we know. We're seeing God do just that as we meet Christ followers who live on the other side of the world. I'm amazed that I can easily befriend someone on the other side of the world even though there are serious language and culture differences between us. I entered Pastor Joel’s house as a complete stranger and left as a friend, partner in ministry, and knew him as a brother in Christ. I had read a little bit about him and his family, and I have spent some in prayer for them before the trip, but other than that he was a true stranger. A week later I can count him as a good friend.
One of the purposes of our trip was to meet a number of national Alliance workers. National workers are those from a country who are doing mission work within their own country. These are Guinean pastors and missionaries who are working with other Guineans. In fact, these are Maninka people who want to reach others of their people group for the Lord Jesus Christ. We shot a lot of video, took a lot of pictures, and we’ll be sharing their stories and ministries through a variety of videos that we’re developing from the footage we shot.
Each of these men, and their families, have a great story and have a heart for reaching others for Christ and making disciples who make more disciples. God has placed them where He has for strategic purposes.
While we were staying with Pastor Joel in Kouroussa there was a big “to-do” in the town. A national official came into town on a national women’s day celebration and there was a parade and speech. The entire town gathered together in the village square to hear that an effort was being made to bring solar powered street lights to a few streets in town. This was another indication of an effort to bring more modernization to a group of people who need it.
Wondering how much good a few solar powered street lamps will do in a city that has very little electricity, I asked Bob for his opinion on the matter. He commented that those who lived near the street lamps will benefit by having light in the evening and into the night to do more work by the light. Adults could work longer into the night and kids could study longer. Those street lights could very well become popular hang-out places and benefit anyone who had a shop nearby.
I think it’s amazing to think that something as simple as a street light in an area of depravity can make a life-changing impact.
We spent the night at Pastor Joel’s house. This was the first night we spent outside of the missionary guest house. Early the next morning Dan, Bob, and I took a walk through Pastor Joel’s neighborhood. I saw and heard things that made a big impact on me. I was amazed to see the differences in building styles. Pastor Joel’s house was a decent sized home with a wall around the yard. Right next door there were thatched-roofed huts, shacks made out of tin shaped into a shelter, and other shacks made out of whatever material was around. Then there were much nicer houses scattered around the neighborhood. It was odd to see the disparity from one house to another. As we walked through the neighborhood we watched woman after woman work to prepare the rice for the day. They used a long wooden rod that was pounded into a large wooden bowl. After the rice was pounded it is spread out on a screen and winnowed by being thrown up into the air so that the chaff could be blown into the air. The women of the village would spend quite a bit of their time doing this during the day.
As we walked around the neighborhood we saw dozens of women preparing their rice. The sound of the pounding was incessant and made a musical beat throughout the neighborhood. This was the first time I noticed the sound on our trip. The sound of the women beating their rice each day remained with me the rest of the trip.
I shall forever associate that sound with the depravity of the scenes I saw while I was in Guinea.
James E. Bogoniewski, Jr.