During my recent mission trip to Guinea we visited many homes in Nzerekore and Conakry, keeping services in village halls and gardens. I was traveling with the Togolese speaker Nicholas Deh and Guinean Alphonse Haba, who lives in Gambia. Alphonse also translated our speeches and served as our guide.
In one village in the Nzerekore area we started by visiting a family. Part of the family members came to our services, and many wanted to believe their sins forgiven. The mother of the family did not come. We returned to that home for a meal. Nicholas spoke to the mother, saying that many good things had happened that day, but one was still missing. Wouldn’t she also want to believe? She said it was not the time for it yet.
Her husband tried to persuade her and said quite emphatically that it would be good for her to believe her sins forgiven. Alphonse asked him to calm down, pointing out that we cannot force faith on anybody. I was deeply touched to see their ten-year-old child, who had been to our services, try to lift her mother’s hand. She had noticed that those who wanted to believe did so. But the mother only swept aside her child’s hand.
We meant to drive from Nzerekore in southern Guinea directly to Conakry, the capital city, where we would keep the last services. The drive took us longer than we had anticipated, and we decided to stop for the night on the way. Alphonse called the man whose house we had visited and told him we would stop for the night. That man suggested that Alphonse call his relative, who lived close to where we were staying. When we arrived in the town in the evening, that relative was waiting for us and showed us the way to a hotel. We asked him to share a meal with us.
After the meal we asked him if we could tell him why we were there. He was happy to hear about it. Nicholas said that if there were even one person who wanted to believe their sins forgiven, we would preach them forgiven. The man said he felt himself a sinner. When we asked, he agreed to hear absolution, and we preached him his sins forgiven.
That five-minute discussion showed us that we do not need to build up faith. God prepares the person’s heart and simply gives him or her the gift of faith. When we offered this man money for the taxi drive to the hotel, he did not want to take it. He said it was nothing compared to what he had received himself. Before we left in the morning, he came to the hotel again to wish us a safe journey and God’s peace.
From that trip I especially remember one family whose home we visited many times. They had such a warm family atmosphere and were so kind to everybody that I had never seen anything like it before. Feeling myself so lacking in my own skill of rearing my children, I asked him what we should do to experience in our own home the kind of warmth and caring that I had seen in their home. I was hoping for a couple of practical hints. But I was overwhelmed by the simplicity and profoundness of his answer.
– I think that God is helping us.
Text: Mikko Juvonen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
You will find the original finnish blog post here.
Monet suunnitelmat ovat tänä poikkeuksellisena keväänä muuttuneet. Muun muassa perhejuhlien järjestelyjä on pitänyt miettiä uudelleen. Tämä on koskenut myös avioliittoon vihkimisiä. Nyt vihkimisiä on toimitettu niin, että koolla on ollut vain joitakin läheisiä, ja muu juhlaväki on seurannut tilaisuutta ehkä virtuaalisesti.