IT ALL BEGINS WITH A VIOLENT COUP

Seventeen years ago Terry Andrews, an American missionary and her husband, Tim, miraculously survived a violent coup in Sierra Leone. They were evacuated to Guinea, West Africa – a country that, unknown to them, millions of people were praying for as part of the unreached “10-40 window” movement. Prayer moves mountains, and God’s presence in Guinea, a 95% Muslim nation, was palpable.

AND AN INVITATION TO A MUSLIM SUSU NEIGHBOR

Terry befriended her next door neighbor, a Muslim Susu businessman. They spoke often about the Old Testament, and one day Terry asked if he’d be interested in having his children join her and her son  to learn about the Bible, play games, pray, and sing worship songs in her little driveway.

“THE DOORS HE OPENS, NO ONE CAN SHUT”

For Terry, this was a Bible lesson for a few children. But to her surprise, the Muslim man came with his four wives, 20 children and scores of grandchildren, filling their tiny driveway. Within the month, 120 children from all over the neighborhood were coming to Terry’s house, and a small team of Christian refugee volunteers were helping. Seeking new space for the growing number of children, Terry approached a Muslim school headmistress to ask if their children’s Bible club could meet on school grounds after hours. Amazingly, the headmistress welcomed the idea. She had seen the dramatic academic and behavior transformation in children who attended Terry’s weekly club, and no matter what was taught, the headmistress wanted that transformation for all her students. Terry had not planned to expand beyond her home club, but the Lord had greater plans.

The club in the Muslim school bore fruit – children’s lives were transformed. Soon invitations were coming in from other schools and communities. The demand for Terry’s time became too great, and she began to train more indigenous believers to mentor the clubs. Terry encouraged children to become active leaders in their clubs; thus child leader discipleship began.

CHILDREN CARRY THE VISION ACROSS BORDERS

And some child leaders, inspired and sensing a call from the Lord, were asking for permission to take CIC into new regions, even over the border into other countries. Little did Terry know that God would grow CIC to what it is today: Children in Christ® – ministering weekly to 250,000 children across 20 countries in Africa, amongst many of the world’s most unreached people groups, with a ministry team of 18,500 inspired and equipped indigenous volunteers.

Tim Andrews and Joseph, their son, during one of the their driveway CIC Club meetings

Driveway CIC Club, lesson taught by Solomon

Girls in Guinea coloring during CIC Club lesson time

GOD’S MIRACLES AND LEADING: THE EARLY YEARS IN CIC

A CHALLENGE: “You say that your God is greatest. We say that Allah is greatest. I’ll give you three months in Camp Boirot – and may the greatest God show Himself”

A man appeared at our gate in Guinea, asking to see me. He explained that we’d never met, but his children had been attending our driveway club and he liked the changes he saw. They were opening up more freely with him and his wife, respecting them more, and best of all they no longer fought. He knew that we taught the Bible, but whatever it was that was changing his children, he wanted for his school. The man was headmaster over the primary school of Camp Boirot – a military camp notorious for torture and execution under former president Sekou Toure. Taxis still refused to enter the camp, and pedestrians often crossed to the other side. What an amazing opportunity. We arrived a few days later, and were met with an appalling sight. The school walls were crumbling; there were no doors, no windows and clearly no latrine – one of the rooms had been set aside for that purpose, sending a horrendous stench throughout the grounds. But after beginning the club, the children made up for everything. Four hundred of them, sons and daughters of soldiers in the camp, sang their new praise song with explosive enthusiasm. The memory verse, recited in thunderous unison, could be heard throughout the camp. Lessons were learned eagerly, prayer spoken with confidence. It was truly a joy to lead these children. After our third visit to the camp, the Commander-in-Chief summoned us to his office. This man had authority to shut us down, or worse, since our volunteer teachers were refugees with no rights. We sat in folding chairs around his desk as he questioned us: “Is it true that you are teaching the Bible in our primary school?” We could not deny this. “Tell me, how often do you Christians pray? We Muslims pray five times each day.” He asked more questions, comparing our religions. Finally he stood up with a proposition: “You say that your God is greatest. We say that Allah is greatest. I’ll give you three months in Camp Boirot – and may the greatest God show Himself.” What a challenge! We sensed that God Himself – our God, had put these words in the commander’s mouth. And our God was more than able to handle the challenge!

Major Juliene teaches the children at Camp Boirot. Photo: 2003

The New School Reflects New Life. Photo: 2004

A PRAISE: “I couldn’t believe my eyes . . . .A torturous camp was transformed”

Tim was transferred back to Sierra Leone shortly after Camp Boirot’s Commander in Chief laid down the challenge between our two Gods. We had expanded into three schools, and I wondered how our volunteer teachers would manage in my absence. With mixed emotions I said farewell and boarded the plane to Sierra Leone. Communication from a neighboring country was not easy; our phone calls were few and far between, often cut short by connectivity problems. Six weeks later I returned to visit Guinea, arriving on a club meeting day. The taxi dropped me several blocks away, but as I got out, neighborhood children gathered around and started to sing. “Jesus et Mon Ami” (“Jesus is My Friend”) rang through the neighborhood as we walked to the club, and I could not have asked for a more beautiful choir. We arrived to find the teachers at work: having divided the two-hundred children into five classrooms, they were starting the Bible lesson. I had surprised the teachers, but they had a bigger surprise for me. At the end of the club, they invited me to walk with them to Camp Boirot. As we entered the school grounds, I could not believe my eyes: the school’s walls were shining with a new coat of paint. Doors and windows were in place and the roof repaired. A new well graced the center courtyard and best of all, behind the school, stood a lovely new latrine! Our volunteers explained that the Commander had summoned them to his office again. But this time there were no questions. “We have been asking our God for seven years to renovate this school. Your God has done it in three short months. I want you to continue at our school for as long as you are able.” Our God was indeed greater.

Epilogue: Two later, the camp commander asked for a Bible. Two years after that, he gave his life to Christ and started attending church. Sadly, after two more years he passed away. But we rejoice in the knowledge that we will see him again, worshipping before the throne of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings!

At Camp Boirot, the children perform a drama of Christ Risen. Photo: 1998

The young man playing Jesus in both dramas is Ibu,  an inspired CIC Child Leader who pursued the ministry of reaching and maturing children in Christ with passion. He was friends with Joseph, Terry’s son. Ibu went to be with our Heavenly Father after contracting typhoid and malaria on a ministry outreach trip to children. When he was dying, he told his friend beside him that he could see Jesus’s heavenly angels coming to greet him. We thank the Lord for Ibu’s life and look forward to seeing him again.

Ibu, Child Leader at Camp Boirot, playing Jesus in a dramatic retelling of a Bible story of His healing miracle. Photo: 1998

TO BE CONTINUED . . . .

Come visit this page again.  Early years stories will continue to be added.