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June 8, 2009

Guinea, a Brief Country Profile & Prayer Guide

guinea

Guinea’s primary attraction to tourists is the yet to be disturbed countryside. The landscape varies from mountains to plains and from savannah to forest. At 94,919 square miles, Guinea is roughly the size of the United Kingdom, slightly smaller than the state of Oregon, and has 200 miles of coastline. The countries bordering Guinea include Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. The country is divided into four main regions: the Basse-Cote lowlands in the west along the coast, populated mainly by the Susu ethnic group; the cooler, mountainous Fouta Djalon that run roughly north-south through the middle of the country, populated by Peuls, the Sahelian Haute-Guinea to the northeast, populated by Malinkes, and the forested jungle regions in the southeast, with several ethnic groups. Guinea’s mountains are the source for the Niger, the Gambia, and Senegal Rivers, as well as the numerous rivers flowing to the sea on the west side of the range in Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.

The capital, Conakry, is located on the island of Tumbo and connected to the Kaloum Peninsula by a 984 foot long pier. The city is well laid out with its alleys shaded by mangrove and coconut palm trees. Guinea has a strong music tradition and Conakry, in particular, is a dynamic center for music. The singing of the Kindia people is especially renowned.

A few interesting facts about Guinea:

• The current population is estimated at 10,211,437.
• The highest point in Guinea is Mont Nimba at 5,748 feet high.
• Richly endowed with minerals, Guinea possesses over 25 billion metric tons of bauxite (up to one-half of the world’s reserves). In addition, Guinea’s mineral wealth includes more than 4 billion tons of high-grade iron ore, significant diamond and gold deposits, and large quantities of uranium. The country also has considerable growth potential in the agricultural and fishing sectors (this should be of particular interest to those who are interested in Business as Mission).
• The official language of Guinea is French. Other significant languages spoken are Pular (Fulfulde or Fulani), Maninka, Susu, Insula, Kissi, Kpelle, and Loma.
• Approximately 85 percent of the population is Muslim. 10 percent is Christian, and 5 percent holds traditional indigenous beliefs.

Specific ways to pray for the country of Guinea:

Praise God for complete religious freedom, a reaction to the Marxist-Muslim years of terror which has made Muslims more receptive to Christianity. The liberty is being progressively eroded though especially in major towns outside the forest region.
Praise God that mission awareness has grown in the last few years. There is a growing expectancy among believers for an abundant harvest and increased activity toward this end. The Kissi and Toma people are now sending Christian workers to other tribes. Pray that this increase of missional vision may continue and spread to other tribes.
The Christian population is still a small minority and concentrated in Conakry and the southeast forests. It is almost entirely Kissi, Kpelle, and Toma in composition. Pray that the Holy Spirit might transform individuals, families and tribes, making them models for a truly African Christian lifestyle.
Youth ministry is vital in Guinea since 50% of the population is 16 or younger. CCC, IFES, and YWAM all have youth ministry programs working in the country. Christian student groups operate on all three universities, several colleges, and are expanding into several high schools throughout Guinea. Calvary Ministries runs a youth center in Conakry and WEC plans to open one there. Pray for the Holy Spirit to draw these younger Guineans to Christ.
There are more than 600,000 refugees in Guinea due to civil strife in Liberia and Sierra Leone. They are proving to be responsive to the gospel and missionary work (EPEG/CMA), but a holistic approach is obviously vital to these destitute people.
Literature is a challenge. There are three Christian bookstores, but literacy training is needed to make use of both Christian literature and the Bible. The reading room concept has been fruitfully implemented by the CMA, IMB-SBC, MERN, SIM, Calvary Ministries and WEC as a neutral location where both converts and seekers can come to study, learn, and fellowship. Pray for continued efforts to make these locations successful.
Bible translation is going to be one of the major missionary tasks for years to come. Nine languages have New Testaments including Fulbe, Susu, Kissi, Kpelle, and Toma. Eleven other languages need translation teams. Translation or revision work is also in progress for eleven other languages.
The JESUS film also has great potential in evangelizing Guinea. Perhaps half of the country has seen the film as it has been translated into 10 languages and is in production for six more. Pray for a lasting impact through this film.
Guinea is one of the least evangelized countries in Africa. Despite the increase in missionary activity, most people groups are still a pioneer challenge and are mostly Muslim along with strong animistic elements. The three dominant people groups are all strongly Muslim. The believers from these groups are often unable to break free of their Muslim contexts to live openly as Christians. Pray for their courage and boldness. While the numbers of converts from these groups has grown to a steady trickle, much prayer is required before a major breakthrough is seen.

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