saved to serve
by Debbie Anderson
Find out more about the ministry of Free Will Baptist International Missions by visiting their website: www.fwbgo.com.
Photo: Free Will Baptist government official Gboko Pascal Kouadio with his wife
FROM THE MEGACITY OF ABIDJAN to tiny villages of mud huts, Free Will Baptist Ivorian pastors have labored fervently to evangelize and shepherd their flocks. Most were born into poor families where idol worship and consulting the witch doctor was a way of life. Often they were persecuted or ridiculed for following Christ. Some have been estranged from their families for years—like one whose father finally accepted Christ in 2007, after expelling his son from the family 15 years earlier.
None of them are rich, and several (especially in the villages) do not receive a salary for months at a time. A majority of these dedicated men work fields to feed their families and depend on the creativity and hard work of their wives to bring in extra income. Love for Christ and the desire to see the gospel spread is evidenced in their lives. Each one has a deeply moving story.
Kouassi Daniel Maizan
Portrait of a Pastor
I was born in a pagan family and my parents worshipped fetishes (idols). They dedicated one of their fetishes to me. I never would have believed that one day I would be a Christian.
In my childhood my father died, and a male relative later took me to live with him in the village of Appimandoum where there was a plantation of cocoa. This new father took me to the fields to work all during the day. I begged him many times to put me in school, but in vain. So, I offered sacrifices to my fetish, asking that I be permitted to go to school.
During the years 1970-71, missionaries came in the evening, visiting and greeting everyone. At that time white people were rare, so we followed them around to look at them. In public places they preached about man’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, and said every person must die. It was then that I feared for my life.
After I received the Lord as Savior, I was afraid to say so in public. My relatives said it was a bad church, teaching children to disobey their parents. So, those of us who were saved got together to pray in secret. Our relatives found out and persecuted us. The persecution was so great in the village, that the church building was burned. In spite of this we remained faithful, and the missionaries encouraged us.
In my case, I did the opposite of what my new father thought I would do, because I obeyed him. Although he refused to go to church himself, he gave me a Bible and encouraged me to take my brothers to church.
Photo: Pastor Paul and his family.
In the following years, I went with missionaries on their trips to various villages. I watched them work, and also observed pastors. With their help I learned to read and write. Later I became the leader of the church at Appimandoum. I also visited other churches in the region of Bondoukou for numerous years. During this time I began to sense the desire to become a pastor.
Later, at a CHE* seminar in Bouna, I said “yes” to the call of the Lord to be a pastor. I entered the Bible institute. Everything was going along beautifully—until close to the end of the training. I became ill for two years (tuberculosis), staying in bed constantly. But, by God’s grace, I regained my health entirely and I continue in the ministry. I thank God for all He has done for me and my family. Amen!— Kouassi Daniel MAIZAN
Now in full recovery, Pastor Daniel recently assumed leadership of a second FWB church in Bondoukou.
The Lord has called other faithful followers to serve in government, medicine, education, business, and other professions. Their vibrant witness is crucial to sharing the gospel in all sectors of society.
Gboko Pascal Kouadio
Gboko Pascal KOUADIO is a diplomat in the Department of Foreign Affairs. One day he expects to serve in an embassy abroad. He shares his account of his conversion in his own English words:
I was born in 1967 in a small village called Yézimala. My family is animist and has worshipped fetishes from generation to generation.
So I grew up in this idol environment until the age of 12, when I passed sixth grade and was sent to Bouna for junior high school. It is in this town that I really heard the Word of God and understood the real meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice.
How did it happen? On the opposite side of the junior high was a Free Will Baptist church with a youth center where students could rest, read religious books, and listen to religious messages and songs. By reading books and pamphlets and listening to tapes during school break times, I realized I was a sinner, and because of my sins the Son of God came down, died on the cross, so that I could be saved free of charge and become a beloved son of God. I believed in that wonderful message and accepted Jesus Christ in my life, as my Savior and my Lord, in 1982.
I am sincerely thankful to the Lord because since I decided to follow Him, He has never let me down and is always covering me with uncountable blessings. Sometimes I go through bad and weak times; but He is always faithful to me and shows me the way out, leading me by His powerful hand. I wonder what I would have been, if I hadn’t accepted Jesus in my life when I was only a teenager. Glory to His name!
These men exemplify the many thousands whose lives have been changed because of the faithful witness of Free Will Baptists—both Ivorian and American.
*CHE-Community Health and Evangelism
ABOUT THE WRITER: As the daughter of veteran missionaries Eddie and Sandra Payne, Debbie Anderson was born and raised in Côte d’Ivoire. She and her husband Verlin returned as missionaries in 1998.