Baloma is a small village located in the forest region of Guinea, not far from the town of Macenta. In the mid-1990’s the village was entirely animist/Muslim. No church or mosque existed, and witchcraft predominated, including charms, spells and the use of human bones. There was considerable fear, and those perceived as moving ahead of the crowd were often killed or held back.
The village chief had a son named Siye. Siye gave his life to the Lord as a teenager, and when he was sent to Conakry for school, he attended a CIC training (spring of 1998). Siye already had a burden for children in his village. He caught the vision of God’s heart for children full force, and when the summer break allowed him to return to Baloma, he called every child from their house and began to teach them the Bible, with games and songs, memory verses and prayer. Because the children worked during the day in the rice fields, the meetings were held at night. All the children, about 100, came to Christ. The adult villagers, both Muslim and Animist, distanced themselves from these meetings, but did not interfere as long as Siye was leading them – his authority as the chief’s son gave him this privilege. Paul F., John O. and M. C. were among the children who gave their lives to Christ. Siye chose them as “disciples” and taught them as they worked together in the rice fields. When Siye had to return to school in Conakry (Sept 1998), he left Paul in charge. With the absence of Siye, some adults in the village began to interfere with club meetings by withholding benches for the children to sit on, or locking the door of the meeting place.
Over the course of 1998, Paul gained full understanding of the power of Jesus Christ over the darkness of witchcraft. His grades soared again, and he became 2nd in his class, and student representative for the entire Forest Region. When Siye returned to Baloma on a school break, he and Paul mobilized all the children to refuse to attend the “mask” dances. While adult villagers resented this, they did not force the children who refused. However, they found the very young children, age four or under, and carried them to the mask dance.
During the summer of 1999, rebels from Sierra Leone began looting villages near the Guinea border, which usually meant raping, burning and killing villagers. When the rebels reached and attacked Bokoni, just a few minutes’ walk from Baloma, they sent a message to the Baloma villagers that their village would be attacked that night. The villagers of Baloma were scared. Though they had been hindering the children from praying by taking their benches and locking their meeting place, now they opened the doors and invited the children to pray saying “We do not believe our God will protect us – but maybe your God will!” The children worshipped and prayed, then went to bed. Some villagers left to hide in the bush as the sun went down. That night, rebels sent one of their soldiers on to Baloma to scout it out. The scout took a look through the village. But instead of calling his fellow soldiers to attack, he turned around and told them – there’s nothing here in Baloma for us . . .
When the people of Baloma saw that their village had been spared, they understood that the God that the children were worshipping along with Paul and Siye was the God with all authority and power. Many gave their lives to Christ and were baptized. Children and adults worked together to lay the foundation of a church. And when neighboring villages challenged the building of a church, children and adults fasted and prayed for three days until God gave breakthrough. As we all know, bringing Christ to an animist village brings tremendous release and joy, but it also comes with a price. Paul, John & Siye were summoned by the local authorities on charges that they encroached on community land and were breaking their society laws. The church building was attacked and destroyed. God gave Paul the wisdom to build a simple church of bamboo, one that the authorities would care less about. That one lasted. The authorities promised to kill Paul & John, and warned them of the exact date that they would be attacked. But that night, instead of attacking Paul & John, they killed Paul’s father in a hunting “accident.” One of the disciples that worked with Paul (named Matthew) was poisoned and he died at age 18. But in spite of these things, faith among Baloma villagers has extended to reach surrounding villages. By 2002, Paul, John and M.C. had started 14 clubs in the area, and every weekend they either hitched rides or walked a 20 km circuit to visit all of the clubs and teach in them. Paul later felt called to begin CIC ministry in Liberia, which now ministers to 70,000 children weekly. Both he and John continue to serve CIC sacrificially. Paul now mentors others as a senior leader in CIC, serving as National Director for Liberia, as well as overseeing and discipling younger country program leaders, and continues to be God’s adventurer for the Gospel of Christ.
*Names have been changed to protect our team