Wow! So many young people! I thought as memories of our years in Guinea flooded my mind. An old dream was finally coming true, and I was there to witness it.
The Susu Project church building was packed with more than 100 people as the church dedication service got underway. All around me were young people—some of whom I had baptized, and some I had known only as small children. Now they were actively shouldering the responsibilities of membership and ministry. They are all first-generation believers, even the older members. Many of them come from Muslim backgrounds, but there are also former animists and Catholics.
One of many high points that Sabbath was a baptism. As the candidates passed through the water, my attention was drawn to a tall young lady of 18 years standing in the crowd. Tears streamed down her face as she called out her desire to be baptized as well. A member of the Susu Project Pathfinder club, she belonged to a strict Muslim family. After a brief huddle, the leaders told her they would be happy to baptize her, but not that day. They knew they had to proceed with caution, or her own family might quickly marry her off, hurt her or even kill her for leaving Islam.
I studied her tearstained face—hopeful, yet shadowed with frustration and disappointment. To me, this face was emblematic of the entire Susu Project—triumph sown in tears. She was both eager and afraid. Eager to be baptized and afraid of her family’s reaction to her heartfelt faith in Christ.
Through these kinds of sobering challenges, the Susu Project has grown one convert at a time. From worshiping in a home, to worshiping in a small windowless room whose landlord tried to hide the fact that Christians were worshiping there, the little group moved to a rented house and then to a church they built together.
The day was a blur of bright African colors, hot sun, laughter, church organization, marching Pathfinders, baptisms and meetings. But for the Cokers and for me and my family (who sadly couldn’t attend), it was a dream come true. The Susu Project church and school had grown to the point that it was now time to begin the long process of transferring responsibility and control to the Guinea Mission. After our family left Guinea in 2000, the Cokers carried on and finally worked themselves out of a job.
This dedication weekend was a culmination of years of hopes, dreams, prayers and painstaking work. However, we praise the Lord that there is still much left to do in Guinea. That’s the exciting part. As AFM begins the process of handing off this thriving church and school, we are confident that the members will carry the work forward. As I look at the church members bursting with promise and potential, the new worship groups, the converts, the Pathfinders, the new school campus, and everything else, I praise God for all His marvelous works! In the kingdom of God, every culmination is a new beginning.