The Republic of Guinea
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The Republic of Guinea, on the African Atlantic coast, is a nation of more than 8 million people in an area of nearly 250,000 sq km (95,000 sq miles) making it a sparsely populated country. Guinea, like many of its neighbors, has had a checkered past with both internal and external factors adding to the turmoil. Between the thirteenth and fifteenth century the area now known as Guinea belonged to the Mali Empire. At the end of the fifteenth century the Portuguese occupied the costal region and developed a slave trade. The 1600s saw an influx of Fulani herders and the 1725 Holy Islamic War saw the Fulani gain control over much of the area. In the nineteenth century the French claimed the coast as a protectorate. Late in that century Samori Toure became a national hero by leading the people against the French. However, independence would not be gained until 1958 with Toure’s great-grandson, Ahmed Sekou Toure as President. French withdrawal from Guinea was devastating in terms of infrastructure and the punitive loss of resources. The latter Toure first aligned himself with the Soviets and later the Chinese. His centralization and nationalization policies were disastrous for development of Guinea. In 1967 Guinea experienced a socialist revolution of the communist variety. But the failure of this system forced one million refugees out of Guinea. When Toure’s oppressive policies led to a riot of the people he turned to France for assistance, but to no avail. Upon Toure’s death a military coup seized control of the government, freed political prisoners and began to clear the way for an open society.
Due in large part to the struggles of the preceding century Guinea is ranked last or near last on most international social development scales. Despite the ranking Guinea is not without some advantages. The diverse Guinean landscape includes mangrove swamps, densely forested foothills, highlands, grasslands, rivers and savanna supporting a range of wildlife. Agriculture claims 80% of the Guinean economy with a similar portion of the workforce engaged in agriculture, particularly the cultivation of tropical fruits and rice. There is some nomadic herding in the interior. Guinea could become self-sufficient in food production if it can overcome years of state control through the development of market reforms, infrastructure and modernization. Guinea is gifted in that it possesses a quarter of the world’s known reserves of high-grade bauxite with three mines producing 80% of the country’s export revenue. The 1984 opening of the Aredor diamond mine expanded Guinea’s profitable mining industry. Presently there is little foreign investment in Guinea.
The Guinean Constitution provides for freedom of religion. Islam claims 85% of the Guinea population. Christianity and indigenous beliefs share the minority status about equally. Christianity is centered largely in the south and in the capital city of Conakry.
The a cappella Churches of Christ first established efforts in Guinea when Ghanaian Paul Ghana entered Guinea in early 1989 to establish a congregation of the Church of Christ. Since that time there have been several known conversions as a result of World Radio, World Bible School and personal teaching. Because of civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the late twentieth century a large number of refugees settled in Guinea. Frank Liberia, formerly a student at Liberia Bible College, began work in Guinea after being forced to flee his homeland due to the unrest. After his arrival in Guinea, Frank established churches in three refugee camps where he lived. Another Liberian, John Liberia, has also conducted evangelistic work in Guinea. Short-term mission teams from the church in the United States went to Guinea in 1993; in N’Zerekore and in the capital.
International Churches of Christ have a congregation in Conakry.
In recent years Pioneer Bible Translators have expanded their efforts to bring vernacular Scripture to the people of Guinea. Among the language workers have been a number of individuals and families from the American Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.
One worker related an incident that occurred in 1994 with a group of believers in a remote village. These steadfast believers spent forty days praying and fasting asking the Lord for two things: that He would send someone to evangelize their people and to translate His Word into their language. The very next day a worker from the American mission organization and another associate arrived in the village on a survey of the area, not knowing of the forty day vigil that had just concluded. They told the villagers that the Lord had placed it on their hearts to ask how they can help. To the villagers it was an immediate answer to prayer! That spring a couple moved to the village and began language learning to help answer the prayer of these Christians. That December the villagers celebrated Christmas for the first time and on that day twenty people were baptized in the Lord.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
Revised by Gary Holloway, December 5, 2013
For online directories of a cappella Churches of Christ see:http://www.churchzip.com/otherdirectories.htm