In 2017, Grace Community Church was provided with a unique opportunity to partner with a pastor in Guinea Bissau with a vision of bringing a school to the village of Kitaa in the region of Biombo. The leadership of Grace Community Church prayerfully accepted the opportunity and purchased some land, sight unseen. Shortly after purchasing the land, Pastor Brad Reaves and Mike Gadd traveled to survey the land and meet with the local pastors and capture the vision for this area.
Guinea Bissau is one of the poorest countries in West Africa. There are virtually no resources available for the general population, who live in poverty unimaginable to most westerners. Among the struggles for the people is getting an education for the children. Human trafficking and slavery are commonplace in this area. Until Grace Community endeavored with the local pastor, Charlese to purchase the land, efforts to bring a Christian school to the area were heavily resisted by local leadership. Pastor Brad and Mike received permission to build a school on the land purchased by GCC, and the building project began in early 2018. The last time the church left the school building, the roof was nearly completed in the first half of the school.
Late in the evening on January 5, 2020, 11 People from Grace Community Church left for Guinea Bissau. This would be the fourth trip to Guinea Bissau for GCC. After traveling through Casablanca, we arrived in the village of Kitaa around 5:00 AM Tuesday, January 7. Later that morning, the team walked to the school. As we approached the school, we were delighted with the sound of children singing! Where we stood a few years ago on an empty lot was now a functioning school for the local children. The enrollment has swelled to over 260 children, who pay just under .75 cents a month for education.
The majority of this trip focused on construction. During the trip, we applied a sealant to the concrete walls, painted the interior and exterior walls, laid tile floor in 2 classrooms, prepped the ground for pouring concrete on classrooms still under construction, finished digging a septic pit, and installed new blackboards. In addition to the construction, the team also held 6 nights of VBS-style children’s ministry, held a showing of the Jesus File, provided medical care, attended church services, and conducted door-to-door evangelism in the village.
Every event was a fruitful endeavor for the Kingdom of God. One testimony, in particular, stands out as an example of this trip: While walking through the village, a group of us starting talking to a group of women who were holding a ceremony giving a grain offering to a tree idol. In our conversations with them, we shared the gospel. One particular woman, Elaina started asking more questions. I recognized Elaina from previous trips as someone who mocked us as we shared the gospel. Today she was asking for prayer for healing from a heart condition. After talking with Elaina some more, the team prayed for her and she told us her heartfelt normal. There was much praise to Christ for her healing.
Before we left, Elaina shared with us that she once thought we (the Americans) were disingenuous and our faith in Christ weak. What changed for her was that her children started attending the school we are building. The work of Christ in their lives became a powerful testimony to her. Elaina is now a believer.
The work at the school is far from complete. We have 4 more classrooms, an office, and bathrooms to finish building. We rely on the gifts and support of many to provide for the construction and materials needed for the school. In addition, we are urgently working to find a solution for the pump on the well beside the school that is quickly deteriorating. Everything in Guinea Bissau is overly difficult, including finding resources and materials to fix the well. We noticed the water table during this trip is much lower than previous trips, which concerns us as to the water supply until the rainy season arrives in June. Additionally, we are carefully watching the advance of Isalm in parts of the country, particularly as the newly elected president of Guinea Bissau is a practicing Muslim.
Despite these concerns, the gospel is flowering in the region of Biombo, a place once resistant to Christianity. The love of Jesus and the love of Jesus’ followers is an irresistible invitation for others. We are already planning our next trip back in January 2021. You may visit our website, www.gracecommunity.com to view pictures and support the project by following the prompts under giving. Above all, please pray for our work there and the needs of the people of Guinea Bissau.