Arriving in Guinea was exciting, although Peter and I were almost crushed by our extensive travels. Before Guinea we had been in the Gospel tour in Indonesia and Malaysia for over two weeks. We quickly realized that Peter’s luggage didn’t arrive…. just one of the “joys” of travels!
The team had arrived to Conakry before us; it was nice to see familiar faces among the new friends that we were about to make. The Press Conference and Friendship Dinner took place later on the same day. The Prime Minister’s wife, Mrs. Jeanette Fofana had been a wonderful ally behind the scenes, and she was present at the Friendship Dinner along with other government representatives, including high ranking members of the national parliament.
Guinea is a Muslim nation with a tumultuous history of violence, and the Ebola epidemic in 2014 was devastating. The people who I call “doom prophets” had announced that God was angry with the Guineans and the Ebola virus was a reflection of God’s wrath. This has caused a great deal of damage in people’s minds. We were happy to enter to this scene with another view – a reflection of God’s love! The Gospel message echoed from the Ndongo stadium night after night; healing, restoring and saving people.
Guinean Ambassador Marie Agnesse Toure commented, "People were profoundly helped! How to describe the impact for an individual, who has been very sick or disabled, and is suddenly healed? The physical, emotional and spiritual impact is tremendous."
"This Festival and Seminar has reinforced peace between Christians and Muslims. We want to build constructive relationships between people. Peter Youngren has really shown us how to reach people that are not Christians. I have advised pastors from all denominations that we must not go back to the old way of doing things, where we often condemned other people. We must pursue this friendship approach presenting Christ and his Gospel without discrimination."
The Ambassador also commented on the pastors’ seminar. "For me personally, this was of utmost importance. I received the revelation of the New Covenant and it will benefit – not only me – but the body of Christ here in Guinea."
Johnny Hansson had been working for several months preparing for Gospel Festival. I asked him about some of the challenges he had faced: "Two of the biggest were traffic jams and high costs. Some may think that it’s cheap to conduct a Festival in Africa, but the opposite is true. Especially in a country like Guinea; the infrastructure is still almost non-existing – there are no businesses that would create healthy competition. In Africa, sadly, corruption is common. It may occur as a power struggle between government officials; revoking permits that already have been granted, holding goods at the customs, etc. In all of this, God gave His wisdom to get everything accomplished.
A Gospel Campaign like this doesn’t happen without the involvement of many churches and dedicated pastors. The chairman of the organizing committee, Pastor Karim Koroma, commented on the follow-up that is now in progress: "We have a huge follow-up work, and we will do it, because we are extremely happy about every one of the many thousands, who have responded to Christ."
Pastor Karim described the excitement among the local churches to receive new believers, "pastors are committed to the follow-up work, so many people came to the Lord and so many, especially Muslims, were healed." Local churches are using a systematic approach to help people grow in Christ. This also involves sensitivity when you work in a mostly Islamic environment, where some people’s lives could be in danger because they have received Christ.
No matter who I spoke to, they wanted to talk about the Pastors’ Seminar. 450 pastors and leaders from across Guinea listened intently for three days to Peter’s teachings every morning. On the last day Peter took questions and it was obvious that these leaders had really digested the implication of embracing the Gospel revolution and the New Covenant thinking, and letting go of a mixture between old and new.
"It opened a whole new world for me personally. I know that hundreds of pastors and leaders are greatly impacted. Many of us have been trying to stand in both the New and the Old at the same time, and we have failed miserably. Now, we are ready to put what we have learned to into action without delay. Many wanted to continue the Gospel Revolution Seminar, but understandably it was not possible”, said Pastor Karim.
The consensus of the pastors I spoke to was that the Seminar had given a whole new understanding of how to reach Muslims. One pastor commented, "We understand now that Muslims are not our enemies; they just don’t know what God has done for them through Christ, and it is our job to give them the Gospel, so that they will have a chance to receive it for themselves."
Alex Bontongo is a member of the Toronto International Celebration Church, and you often see him helping Peter in the Sunday services. Alex is fluent in French, and he accompanied to help translate what God was doing for the people.
"I was impressed to see multitude of Muslims come to the Festival; many were healed and saved. Friendship Festivals truly are non-discriminatory events. Because I speak French I heard the healing testimonies directly from the people. Some had suffered for a lifetime. It was amazing to see them healed."
There’s always a domino effect, as the messages carried from one person to the next. Alex described a young man from Chad, who was so touched by Peter’s teaching that he was determined to take the message there.
That was the focus of the apostle Paul, who told Timothy to commit to others, who would commit to still others of what he himself had heard from Paul, 2 Tim 2:2. We walk in Paul’s footsteps – sending the Gospel to those who have never heard.