After the activities of March, Bear Valley Guinea successful accomplished the following major expectations for the month of April. These are:
Classroom: All 19 students went through the April lessons which also concluded our first quarter classes for this first year. Since most of our students are adult men who had left school for a long time, it was a matter of necessity that these men take some time of concentration to awaken their minds for another academic challenge. Therefore every student was required and encouraged to participate in oral reading, asking and answering questions, various assignments, memory work, etc. Preaching during the devotional periods was the only exception for the months of March and April scheduled only for the men previously serving as preachers and teachers in their home congregations. This was necessary also to permit time until "Public speaking" scheduled for the second quarter could be taught. With these backed by some general and personal counseling, there was an improvement in the students' performance from the previous 60 percent in March to about 75 percent in April.
Evangelism: This work by some of the students, staff and the host church members who went out to preach by different methods such as by extending invitation to non members all resulted to the conversions of 6 persons.
Challenges: It was a tense challenge in the absence of our own copier to meet up with the required quantity of study materials for students and staff. It greatly affected our monthly financial balance "carried forward" of March which we were building up for some other project activity in the future.
During the period we have come to realize that we must begin to send out some of our students to weaker congregations around and prepare to revive others that have died or almost died down. Our May report during which month we conducted a successful gospel campaign will reflect more on this.
Personal profile: Saa Philippe Tolno, a member and preacher of the Solondonin, Gueckedou church is one of the regular staff here on campus. He is married and has 3 children.
Philippe's conversion in 2003 from the Free Pentecostal denomination was of great interest. While working with the GTZ organization in the refugee camp of Dabola came across a young man carrying one of our study materials - "Church of the Bible" which attracted his attention. After convincing the man to allow him read it for some time, Philippe started and his interest grew as he realized how the Lord's church is unique. He therefore bought a copy book and 2 pens - blue and red with the plan to copy the entire book so that he could afterward carefully study the materials and then try to start that church. He was now at lesson number 8 when Osman Shekey, then preacher of the church which was in that refugee camp who was strolling the camp met him. Through a brief discussion, Philippe understood that the church was already in that camp and therefore desired to be a member. However, he had some particular questions and because the preacher could not satisfactory convinced him, I was sent for and had to travel some 450 klm.
On arrival I saw the evidence of his faith and interest for the Bible church. He afterwards was converted and on another occasion led us to a group of some 10 men and women 9 of which were also converted from the Shekina denomination with which he had started to affiliate.
Philippe's interest grew in the faith and I was moved to answer his request to help him get a formal Bible training. Saa Philippe Tolno therefore became the first Guinean brother to attend and complete a 3 years Bible training at Benin.
Philippe has since returned and had been serving not only as the preacher for the first of now 3 congregations in Gueckedou town, but also helping to strengthen and establish weaker and new congregations respectively.
As many other preachers in the country, Philippe had a small support and tangled by the needs of extended family his living conditions were not very good. Therefore the Gueckedou denominational pastors (many of them well supported) made mockery and tried to draw him over, but Philippe will always say "this faith, if I die in it even if it's for poverty then I have won".
Our desire for a Bible training center in Guinea -Conakry has been long therefore as soon as Steven made the first contact with me in 2017, brother Philippe and his though small, but dedicated congregation was in turn my first contact. During the months that followed Philippe led his congregation in prayers and fasting and in every other thing it took on their part as per their ability such as to find students to succeed the establishment of Bear Valley Bible Institute in Guinea.
Three members of his small congregation form part of the 19 students drawn from 9 congregations in the country. It was one of the 3 students that top the class out of all the academic and practical lessons for the first quarter.
Philippe is one of the regular staff on campus and is often counselling those students with such academic need.
He is a good singer. The local radio program is introduced and closed by a very nice recorded congregational song which he led.
I am proud of his faith!
Francis Sahr Musa