Adventist Frontier Missions

The Susu Chronicles -part 1

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript



Series Code: AFM

Program Code: AFM000012

01:09 Some say that some places in the world are just too hard
01:12 to reach with the Gospel and the three angels' messages.
01:15 Guinea would probably fit into the hardest to
01:18 reach of this group.
01:20 Dominated by a resistant religion, racked with poverty
01:23 and corruption, bordering on the brink of political
01:26 and social meltdown, her need of the Gospel
01:29 is apparent. The outlook would leave the average
01:33 evangelist shaking his head in dismay.
01:36 This is truly a story, the story of the Gospel going
01:39 forward in Guinea, that only God could write.
01:41 For on the hearts of many of the beautiful, vibrant
01:44 spiritually hungry people of this land, He is
01:47 inscribing His Gospel.
01:49 Marc and Cathy Coleman founded the Susu Project of Adventist
01:53 Frontier Missions in Guinea in the year 2000. And after
01:56 several years of learning the culture and language,
01:59 launched into an active ministry of medical missions,
02:02 friendship evangelism, and development work.
02:04 As young people started to convert, education later became
02:08 part of this program. Now, many years later,
02:12 a thriving church and school, a lay training program,
02:16 and local leaders fill their places. God has shown once
02:19 again that no place is impenetrable, impermeable
02:23 to the G ospel, because God is bigger than all of
02:27 the challenges.
02:30 Hello, we are the Colemans. My name is Marc. I'm Cathy.
02:34 I'm Rebecca. And I'm Chelsea.
02:35 Many people have asked
02:37 us what it was like to live
02:38 in a country like Guinea,
02:39 where we worked and
02:41 lived for 10 years. If I were to think of one
02:43 word that describes the country of Guinea, I would
02:45 have to say, colorful, very colorful.
02:48 Vibrant.
02:49 It was very hot.
02:50 Expressive.
02:52 It was a place that was often on the brink of war, very unstable.
02:56 Often lonely.
02:57 The food was really good.
02:59 Full of corruption.
03:00 And we could go on and on with both the good and
03:03 sometimes the bad, but these words together
03:07 describe a picture of a place desperately in need
03:09 of the Gospel. Come with us for just a few moments
03:12 and let us take you deeper into the story of what
03:14 it was like to be pioneer missionaries in the
03:17 country of Guinea.
03:38 I'm with Isatta Coker. She is the eldest child
03:42 of the seventh wife
03:44 of a very prominent
03:47 government official in
03:49 the country of Sierra Leone
03:51 at that time when she
03:52 was a child.
03:53 Everyone has an assigned role, an assigned place
03:56 based on the mother's age and the mother's position
03:58 as the wife. And Isatta had a special role as the oldest
04:03 child of the seventh wife. In fact, her brothers and
04:07 sisters call her to this day, "Mom. "
04:09 At the age of 16, Isatta was already consumed
04:14 with the cares of taking care of her younger brothers
04:17 and sisters, and helped her mother extensively.
04:20 But she had an interesting experience at this age
04:22 that led her to Christ.
04:24 It is very difficult having to live with your parents -
04:30 all of them are Muslim, and you decide to pick
04:33 up the cross and follow Christ. When I was around
04:37 the age of 16, I was staying with my siblings, my half
04:41 siblings. And I am very close to one of them
04:45 clalled Jusefo.
04:49 So one day he came over to me. He was so excited,
04:53 running and he came and said, "I want to share something
04:56 with you, and I want it to be just a secret between
04:59 you and I.
05:02 I was accompanying my girlfriend, and I heard
05:06 a sermon. And this is not my first time I've been hearing
05:10 about Jesus, and it kind of touches me a whole lot. "
05:13 Then he went on and started sharing everything
05:17 about how Jesus Christ is our personal Savior,
05:20 what Jesus Christ went through dying on the cross
05:24 to save us from our sins. So I became interested.
05:28 So one day, he and I decided to go to the church.
05:34 There is no way my father should get to know about
05:40 this because he would disown me and drive me
05:43 out of the house. But by then I had a boyfriend
05:46 named Sheik. He, too, got interested at some point
05:50 in going with me. But there was some kind of
05:54 misunderstanding. He got angry, so he said I'm not
05:57 supposed to go back to the church. I said, "No, I'm
05:59 going to go there. Nobody will stop me.
06:03 So one day there was a fundraising service.
06:13 I was in the service. I was really enjoying the service
06:16 and singing good songs, and suddenly I had somebody
06:20 tapping my back. "Somebody is calling you outside.
06:23 Somebody is calling you outside. " I said,
06:25 "Hold on. I'm coming. " He said, "Somebody wants
06:27 to see you. The person said that if you refuse to come
06:29 he's going to come in. " I said, "Okay. Hold on. Let
06:32 me go and see this person. " To my greatest surprise,
06:35 it was my boyfriend waiting outside. I said, "Come in!"
06:38 He said, "I told you not to come here. "
06:41 Then he grabbed my hand forcefully and started
06:44 pushing me. "Why are you treating me like this?"
06:47 He said, "I am not coming to the church anymore, and I
06:52 don't want you to come to the church. "
06:54 I said, "I'm sorry. It's not going to work that way. "
06:56 He actually beat me.
06:59 He said, "Well, I'm going to talk to your dad."
07:03 It was the saddest day. He said, "What? You mean,
07:06 my daughter is going to church?"
07:08 But I just stood silent, speechless, because it
07:12 was a shock for me. And my dad asked me,
07:15 I said, "Yes, sir. I've been going to church. "
07:17 He has a big ring, a heavy, thick silver ring on his hand.
07:22 He hit my face. "Who allowed you?
07:26 It is an abomination for you to be going to church.
07:29 Don't you know that? Are you trying to disgrace me?"
07:32 I stood there speechless, just crying.
07:34 At some point he calmed himself down, and he said,
07:38 "I want you to promise me you will never go to church."
07:43 I actually accepted in front of him, but my intentions were
07:48 different. The day he found out was the worst.
07:53 He said, "So, you defy me. You defy my words."
07:58 He was so angry. So my mom, as soon as she overheard
08:03 the conversation, she came running.
08:09 She said, "Let us drive her out of this house because
08:12 she is a disgrace to the family. "
08:14 My dad drove me out of the house, and they took
08:18 all my things. I only had one outfit with me - the one I
08:21 had on is what I went out with. In the evening I would
08:24 come around the house when nobody sees me, just my
08:27 siblings, and they would give me food.
08:29 Finally, my mom went to some people, all the people
08:33 who are well respected in the community, she spoke
08:37 to them, and they came to my dad, and they talked to
08:41 my dad. He asked me again that I should promise him
08:45 that I will not go to the church.
08:50 I could not make the promise again.
08:53 By then, he fell sick, seriously sick.
08:57 My dad and I were so close. Even with all that
09:02 had happened, I was the only person that he
09:05 allowed to cook his food, sit beside him to eat,
09:10 give him his medication. Everything is all Isatta.
09:14 One day, it was getting worse. It was hard for me
09:18 to understand that he was dying. I said, "Dad, I want
09:21 you to take Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. "
09:24 I said, "He's the only one that can save you. "
09:28 I said, "Prophet Mohammed cannot save you.
09:30 You have to accept Jesus Christ as your
09:33 personal Savior. He is the one that died on the cross
09:37 for you and I." By then I was crying anyway.
09:40 I said, "Dad, this is the only opportunity you have.
09:45 When you die, it's finished. Just talk to me. I beg you. "
09:49 I was pleading with him.
09:51 He said, "I will never ever accept Christ as my
09:56 Savior. Prophet Mohammed is my savior. "
10:01 That was the end of our discussion. I left
10:04 crying because it was hard for me.
10:14 Coming from a Muslim background, accepting
10:18 Christ as your savior is not an easy task.
10:25 I just want to encourage, whether you are a Muslim,
10:30 Buddhist, whosoever you are, that Christ is the
10:35 only way, the truth and the life. There is no other way.
10:50 Holidays are important in Guinea, just as they are
10:52 in every other country. Here it's been interesting
10:55 for us to notice how much people will, who are just
10:58 barely eking by in existence, will go into
11:01 six months debt just to be able to pay for one set
11:06 of clothes to wear on this very special religious
11:11 holiday.
11:15 One day, Abubacar came dressed in his fine,
11:20 what we call a boubou, a robe.
11:23 And he did a little dance
11:25 as many people do when
11:26 they get new clothes.
11:28 And he was showing it to me
11:30 and dancing around. And we joked around and talked
11:33 a while, and I admired his robe. Then he got deadly
11:37 serious. He went and he sat on my motorcycle. And he said,
11:41 "You know, this is my last Muslim holiday." He said,
11:46 "I want to sell all my boubous."
11:53 Well, what do you want to do that for, Abubacar?
11:59 "Well," he said, "I want to follow Christ."
12:07 He was dead set on selling his boubous, and I said,
12:10 "Well, you really don't need to sell your boubous.
12:14 I mean, it's all right for Christians to wear boubous."
12:17 But to him it symbolized all that he wanted to leave
12:20 behind.
12:28 He told me later. He said, "What happened was
12:33 I had a dream."
12:36 And in that dream, he had on
12:39 a stained, dirty dark robe.
12:43 And people were ridiculing
12:47 him and saying, "Look at your life. Look at you. "
12:49 And in a social society like this, the criticisms of people
12:54 hold extra weight. So he felt his sinfulness.
12:58 But before him on a table in this dream was folded
13:01 a beautiful white robe. He understood this to
13:05 mean that Christ was offering him a new robe of
13:08 righteousness.
13:14 Abubacar recently has been
13:16 facing many trials.
13:22 One day, during the month of Ramadan, which is the
13:25 fasting month for Muslims, I made a plate of rice
13:28 and sauce for him. So I went to hand him the
13:32 plate of food, and he refused.
13:40 Then a couple of days later, I said, let me try this again.
13:44 So I said, "Abubacar! Abubacar, here."
13:47 He said, "No, no, no, Mama. I'm not eating."
13:50 I said, "You're not eating?" I said, "Abubacar, have you
13:56 become a Muslim again?"
13:58 He put his head down, and he said, "Mama, you know
14:02 when I went for my vacation in June?" I said, "Yes."
14:06 He said, "Well, you know, I traveled all the way there
14:09 to spend time with my family and my friends."
14:12 And he said, "My aunt greeted me coldly. And the first thing
14:17 she said was, 'Take the kettle and do your abolutions. '
14:22 Which is your preparation for your prayer.
14:25 'It's time for prayer. It's five o'clock.
14:28 Let's go to the mosque.'
14:31 Abubacar thought for a moment. That's when the
14:35 struggle started. Because he knew he had already
14:39 confessed Christianity. So he refused the kettle.
14:44 And we was going through this battle. Well, finally,
14:48 someone else came by and said, "Hey, Abubacar's here!
14:52 Abubacar is here!" They were excited to
14:54 see him because they hadn't seen him in a long time.
14:56 They asked him, "Have you eaten?"
14:59 He said, "No." They said, "Have you gotten water?"
15:02 "No." They said, "When you're finished,
15:04 food is here for you."
15:05 But the aunt said, "There is no food here for him.
15:09 Don't you know that Abubacar has changed his religion?
15:13 He is no longer Muslim? That he has become a Christian?
15:18 So there's nothing here for him."
15:20 They even told him, "If you get sick, there's nothing
15:25 here for you. If you need to find a wife, go to those
15:30 Christians. That's your new family. If you need anything
15:35 forget about it. We are no longer here for you.
15:38 We are no longer your family."
15:40 He hadn't anticipated this at all.
15:43 He came for a friendly family visit,
15:46 and there he was rejected.
15:51 They refused him water, the basic commodity of life.
15:56 They said, "Nothing here - we are no longer your family.
16:01 Go to those Christians."
16:09 The next day, he came back to the house, and the tension
16:13 started all over again - the arguing and the fussing
16:16 and the fighting started all over again.
16:18 They called him a dog. They called him terrible names.
16:23 They called him a roach. You're dirty. Just get out of here.
16:27 So he felt it wasn't safe for him, and so he found refuge
16:31 in another house for a period of time until his
16:34 vacation was over. And then he came back.
16:37 And so I asked him at that moment after he shared his
16:42 story, "Abubacar, several months have passed.
16:46 How come you didn't say anything to us? We are
16:50 your family here." He said, "My family rejected me
16:53 there, and I was afraid if I told you that I was confused
16:57 and that maybe I didn't want to be a Christian anymore
17:01 that you would be mad at me, too. That all of you would be
17:04 mad at me, and that all of you would reject me.
17:06 I said, "Abubacar, no way."
17:11 I said, "There's no way
17:12 that we could ever reject you.
17:14 I said, "In Christianity, that's something
17:18 we don't do." I said, "The love of God compels us to
17:21 love others and to seek to draw them closer to Him.
17:24 You have your Christian family here to support you
17:28 and to surround you with love during your trials and
17:31 through your temptations."
17:35 So it's been a long journey for him, but a very positive
17:39 one. Every day he's making new steps. We just praise
17:42 God for that experience, one that showed us that after
17:45 the missionaries have done all they can do, it's still
17:48 really the Holy Spirit that must win that heart
17:52 to Christ.
18:08 On this particular Sunday, it was a normal day.
18:10 I went up top to put out clothes to dry.
18:13 I heard Bubuti's bowl topple to the ground, and that
18:18 meant he was thirsty. So I said, "Okay, Bubuti!
18:21 I'm coming, I'm coming. I'll be there in a minute."
18:24 After I finished putting the clothes up on the line,
18:27 I walked downstairs. I approached him, got his
18:32 little metal bowl, went, filled his bowl with water.
18:35 As I was placing his bowl
18:37 of water down, suddenly
18:40 he lunged at me.
18:43 We started fighting. I was flinging him back. He came
18:46 and he lunged at me again. And I was so angry.
18:49 You know, in my mind, I was like, what's going on?
18:52 Bubuti, what are you doing?
18:53 Blood was dripping, dripping and I had been wounded.
18:58 I had this big hole in my hand from his bite.
19:03 I could just call out, "Marc, Marc, Marc!"
19:06 I said, "Call our doctor friend, Dr. Baldi."
19:11 We had our two student missionary nurses here
19:15 at the time. So they went and got the gauze. They
19:18 went and got the sterile water. They went, you know, got
19:21 everything - the suturing kits, everything. Everybody was
19:24 nervous, and we all knew at that point, that it was a
19:28 satanic attack. We all knew that that evening we were
19:32 supposed to start the culture study that was
19:34 going to be a tool to opening up an avenue
19:37 to reach the Susu people.
19:39 Prayerfully, Dr. Baldi went into caring for my hand.
19:43 But the unfortunate thing was he didnt' have any
19:47 anesthesia. And so as he started with that needle
19:51 going directly into my wound, it was so unbearable.
19:55 Tears start streaming down my face. The doctor was,
19:59 "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry, but I have to do this."
20:02 And by the time he finished, I was so exhausted
20:06 from the pain and the crying. He had put three
20:09 layers of stitches between my hand and my fingers
20:12 to close the wound. By that time he had given
20:16 me some pain medicine. And here, the strongest
20:19 thing that they have is Tylanol 3. So that's not
20:23 too strong, especially when you're in pain,
20:25 the type of pain that I was having.
20:30 The next day came, and the second day arrived.
20:34 And I started having a lot of pain.
20:38 So we called the doctor. He came and saw a lot of
20:41 pus, and he saw that the infection was building.
20:44 And none of us thought that this was going to be
20:46 something really serious. We just thought it
20:49 was a wound, and it was going to heal,
20:50 and go back to normal. But that's not the
20:53 course that it took.
20:56 By the fourth day, it became really unbearable.
21:01 And I found myself in my room with my hand up in the air,
21:06 just singing, saying, "Lord, just please help me."
21:09 And I went through hymn after hymn, after hymn
21:12 just trying to occupy myself so I could bear the pain.
21:16 And it didn't really help to know that when your
21:19 neighbors came, they wanted to sympathize with me,
21:22 but they came and they said, "Oh, we heard that you were
21:26 attacked by a monkey. And, you know, we had
21:29 some people here in our same neighborhood that
21:32 were attacked by monkeys, and they didn't make it.
21:34 They died."
21:37 By the fifth or sixth day, it became really
21:40 unbearable and the pain started lodging in my bones.
21:44 And I thought, oh, my goodness, am I getting
21:47 a bone infection now? The medications that they
21:49 gave me weren't helping. It just increased, increased,
21:53 increased. And so, in the back of I mind, I felt,
21:57 Am I going to die here?
21:59 Dr. Baldi suggested that we go and do surgery
22:04 at the local hospital.
22:05 Well, that was a scary thought for me, but by that time,
22:09 I didn't have any choice. Here the hospitals are
22:13 very scary. It's not like the hospitals in the
22:17 United States. So my husband, Dr. Baldi, and myself,
22:21 we went to the hospital. I really don't remember much
22:25 because by that time, my state of mind wasn't
22:28 really focused. But I remember them taking
22:33 me into the operating room, and he assured me that
22:37 things would be okay.
22:38 He just told me to relax. And, of course, the next
22:43 thing I knew I was in the recovery room.
22:47 Well, we got home, and within two days again
22:51 the infection was terrible, and the pain was
22:55 unbearable. And we finally shared with the doctor
22:58 "Doctor, this isn't working."
22:59 He said, "The best thing that you can do, Cathy,
23:03 make sure that you get on a plane today or
23:08 tomorrow. You're at a critical state right now, and you
23:11 you need to get out of here because there's nothing
23:14 else we can do for you."
23:15 So, without any promise of a ticket, without any
23:19 assurance, I packed my bags, and I said,
23:23 "Honey, let's go."
23:25 But by that time, my hand stank. The odor was
23:30 terrible. It was like something that had rotted.
23:35 But I didn't want to alarm my family, so I kept my hand
23:38 kind of close to me. And even for me to
23:41 raise my hand a little bit, the stench was so
23:45 terrible, but I kept it at bay so that at least my
23:49 children wouldn't be alarmed.
23:51 I just received my ticket at eight o'clock, and
23:54 in less than two hours the plane would leave.
23:58 As I was on the plane, it really was terrible.
24:03 There was a lady who was sitting next to me,
24:06 and she had been complaining.
24:09 "I'm not supposed to be on this flight," she said.
24:12 And then she noticed my hand was bandaged.
24:15 And I shared with her that I was attacked by a monkey,
24:17 and I was going home to get treated.
24:19 She said, "I'm a Christian." And she started reading
24:22 from the Psalms. Then she said, "I want you
24:24 to read, too." She said, "God has a plan for you."
24:27 She said, "Now I know why I was not on that last plane."
24:32 She said, "God intended for me sit next to you, and to
24:37 encourage you, and to help you."
24:38 I didn't feel any pain any more during that
24:42 time while I was on the plane.
24:44 We arrived in Texas. The Freeman family was there
24:47 to take me directly to the hospital.
24:49 The physician there said, "You need to have
24:52 emergency surgery right away." He said,
24:55 "Two days ago, I had a dream that I would be working on
24:58 a missionary."
24:59 All I could do was just say, "Praise the Lord!
25:01 Praise God! Praise the Lord!"
25:02 I said, "God, you are faithful."
25:05 You know, when we go out in the battlefield for the
25:10 Lord, Satan is always nearby to discourage and to
25:14 remove, if possible, the missionary.
25:17 But I thank God that He allowed us and gave us the
25:21 strength to continue, come back, and to do His work.
25:25 I solicit your prayers for the Susu people,
25:30 for this project, because Satan is here, and he
25:33 doesn't want these people to know Jesus Christ.
25:43 I've wanted to be a student missionary for
25:45 a long time. I kept thinking about it through college,
25:48 and each year passed.
25:50 Finally, after my fifth year...
25:53 When my family came to
25:54 Guinea, I was four.
25:55 I was born in Cleveland,
25:57 Ohio. My first time going
25:59 back after we came,
26:00 I was seven. And I don't
26:04 really remember anything different.
26:06 I mean, I could tell the difference between Guinea
26:09 and the States, obviously, like how everything is
26:12 so more modernized there.
26:14 Thinking, actually, got me looking into it with AFM,
26:18 and from there on, it's all history. I ended up
26:22 coming out here, and now here I am in Guinea.
26:25 I go to Sabbath school with the other kids my age.
26:28 My mom teaches that class. I'm fourteen.
26:30 I'm in choir. That's really fun. That's a different
26:33 experience. I don't think it's like normal choir.
26:36 But it's still fun. It's fun singing at church
26:39 really cool songs. Different songs in different languages.
26:43 I have to say that I don't understand all of the
26:45 languages we sing.
26:47 God definitely had His hand in bringing me here.
26:50 My assignment here in Guinea has been to teach.
26:54 Teaching Beca and Chelsea. Beca is in 12th grade,
26:57 Chelsea is in 8th grade, and also Fred, another
27:01 part of the team. He's also in 8th grade with Chelsea.
27:04 I do coordinate for adult Sabbath school sometimes
27:07 because they like to rotate people and get the young
27:11 people involved. Sometimes I get nervous, but I know
27:15 it's helping. It's helping me to prepare for later
27:19 on in life.
27:21 I'm kind of learning the ropes as I go. That was
27:23 definitely a challenge, but it's been very fun as well.
27:26 I've enjoyed spending time with them, getting
27:28 to know them.
27:29 I can say I have two homes. Sometimes when
27:32 I refer to home, my parents, my family have
27:35 to ask me, "Which home are you talking about?"
27:38 I have to say Guinea or the States.
27:40 One lesson I've learned since being here is
27:45 one in simplicity. It's easy at home to just
27:50 get caught up and surrounded by so many things.
27:54 And here I don't really have that. And I've learned to
27:59 enjoy just not having to worry about so much stuff.
28:04 Through all the challenges I've faced, I have become
28:08 a stronger person, and also learned to rely more upon
28:12 the Lord. God definitely had his hand in bringing
28:16 me here, and I wouldn't have had it
28:19 any other way.


Revised 2014-12-17