Five reasons a village elder from Guinea became a Christian
BMS World Mission worker, Simon Wood, recently met an amazing man in the south of Guinea. A respected village elder, Ansuman* stunned his local mosque when, after years of being a Muslim, he announced late last year that he was going to become a Christian.
Simon asked him why he had decided to change his faith. Ansuman told Simon there were five reasons why he had made his dramatic decision:
1 Kicking the habit
Ansuman had wanted to quit smoking for a long time but nothing had worked. He asked Pastor Jean (who Simon supports) for prayer and found that he had the strength to give up from that moment.
2 The broken bridge
Many years ago a local bridge collapsed making access to the village very difficult. The bridge was not fixed for years despite village leaders applying to the government for help, prayers in the local mosque and sacrifices made to the spirits in the forest. Then a group of Christians from a nearby town visited the village, along with some American missionaries. When they heard about the broken bridge, the Christians prayed for a solution to be found. They then returned to the main regional town, approached the authorities about the lack of bridge, and four days later a team of government workers arrived to start reconstruction. The message to Ansuman was clear – the God of the Bible is living and answers prayer!
3 A transformed taxi driver
Ansuman had a good friend who moved to the capital city to work as a taxi driver. He became a Christian and often encouraged Ansuman to abandon Islam. Although Ansuman ignored his advice for decades, his friend's witness stayed with him.
4 Fairer funerals
Ansuman was often struck by the behaviour of Christians at funerals. In Guinea when someone dies, the whole village gets together for the burial, and everyone gives money, which is collected and administered by an allocated individual. Ansuman was struck by the fact that at Christian funerals, it is the grieving family who receive the money collected. At non-Christian funerals, he was used to seeing this money either disappear into the pockets of the collectors, being spent on large amounts of food and drink for guests at the wake, or hear of it being used to offer sacrifices to idols and spirits.
5 A preacher's integrity
Ansuman had also been struck more recently by Pastor Jean’s ministry. He prays for people, and when the prayers are answered people offer him money, as they would to the local imam. However, Pastor Jean refuses to take their money! "You can’t sell the ministry of God," Ansuman told Simon.
So after a period of time these five reasons have changed Ansuman's heart and mind and prompted him to become a Christian. Four months on from that decisive December day, Ansuman is still committed to his new faith. He attends all the church meetings, and is actively involved. He told Simon that his peers in the village respect his decision, without necessarily agreeing to it, but his family pressure him to revert to Islam.
A few weeks after his change of faith, Ansuman’s family expressed their frustration at the start of their meal: “Why have you converted? Come back to Islam!” they urged him. Ansuman stated he would give them a reply to their question at the end of the meal.
After they had finished eating he asked, “Is your name the same name as mine?”
“No” they replied.
“That is because we are different," Ansuman said. “You are not me. We do things differently and live different lives, albeit in the same family. I don’t live your life, you don’t live mine.”
He then continued, “Why should all the family be in the one boat, if that boat is sinking? It is better for the family to be in two boats, and then those who are in the sinking boat can be rescued by those in the boat that floats. In fact, it makes more sense to have half the family in one boat, and half the family in the other.”
"My Guinean colleagues laughed out loud when Ansuman recounted this to us," says Simon. "His logic is supremely Guinean and evangelistic at the same time."
Pray for Ansuman as he continues to learn more about what it means to be a Christian. Pray for his wife and family, that they will respect Ansuman's decision and will want to know more about his new faith. Pray too for the work of Simon Wood supporting pastors and church planting in Guinea.
* name changed
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission