Hope Ignited has been working alongside local leaders to transform communities and provide a spark of hope in Guinea, West Africa for 14 years. As we celebrate this milestone, we thought it would be fitting to share our story once again, and to rejoice together over the ways God has guided our ministry and used our efforts for His glory.
Hope Ignited was born out of an unlikely relationship between Chuck Jamison (Founder of Hope Ignited) and Ismael Keita, a Guinean businessman who had made it to the U.S. through a series of divinely orchestrated events. After becoming a Christian, Ismael started coming to the church where Chuck was executive pastor in Tyler, Texas. He and Chuck became good friends, and he eventually decided to return to Guinea with the goal of bringing hope to his community. However, he didn’t want to go as a traditional missionary, but rather as a businessman to provide jobs and stimulate the economy. So Chuck helped him raise funds and establish a partnership with a local grocery store to start bakeries in the capital city, Conakry. A non-profit organization was born, initially called Pain de Vie (French for bread of life). Despite power outages and many obstacles, the bakery succeeded for some time. Leftover bread was then taken to prisoners every day in partnership with Prison Fellowship, so that these people, who had been disowned by family and essentially left to starve in prison, would have something to eat and hear of the great love of Jesus Christ. Because of this ministry, there is now a church inside the prison, led by inmates every Sunday. The once squalid conditions are now bearable and prisoners receive food and necessary medical care. Where there was great darkness, loneliness and despair, the love of God has infiltrated the prison and ignited hope.
14 Years of Partnership
Where there was great darkness, loneliness and despair, the love of God has infiltrated and ignited hope.
When we first started going to Guinea, the Christian church was very small (6-7% of the population), and so it didn’t take long to meet all of the local pastors. The majority of the church was made up of refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia, and so church services were delivered in English and then translated to French, the local language. The few Guinean leaders that existed were first-generation Christians, and so the need for biblical and theological training was huge. They were thirsty to understand their faith, and to know how to lead their congregations well. Hope Ignited therefore started hosting pastoral conferences yearly, inviting local pastors from all over the country to attend. We continue to host pastor conferences today, and it has been extraordinary to see how the church has grown and evolved over the years. Christianity now makes up about 15-17% of the population, and church services are led in French by Guinean pastors with a fervent heart for the gospel.
From the churches came schools. Hope Ignited has partnered with local churches and pastors to start 6 schools that are fully self-sustainable and have achieved higher national test scores than the majority of secular schools in the area. Because of the quality of the schools, Muslim families choose to enroll their children in an openly Christian curriculum given the value placed on education in their culture. About 80% of students in our schools come from Muslim families and hear the gospel and learn from the Bible every day. We have also been able to allow children of prisoners and ex-prisoners to attend our schools for free through our partnership with prison fellowship, giving these children an education and a second chance they otherwise wouldn't have had.
6 self-sustained Christian primary schools
+1,000 students with greater hope for tomorrow
Ismael Keita has continued to be a successful businessman in Conakry - so successful that he is now the President of Employers in Guinea, meaning he represents all employers before the government. Despite his success, he has been faithful to our friendship and organization, continuing to establish connections with government officials when needed, and being a sounding board for all of our work in country.
In response to the overwhelming evidence that the Spirit of God is moving in and through the people of Guinea, Hope Ignited will be sending its first two missionary families to Conakry to begin full-time work in early 2019 - the Baldridge and Jamison families. This team is composed of two physicians, two theologians, a computer scientist / electrical engineer, and teacher (amongst the 4 adults) and their 4 amazing kids. In partnership with internationally ranked medical institutions and Fortune 500 companies, they will be working to establish vocational training schools, improve local primary education, train local pastors and church leaders, improve pediatric medical care, and create the first pediatric cardiology training program in the country. God has clearly ordained these men and women to be missionaries in Guinea, as He continues to open door after door to allow them to pursue this calling. Hope Ignited is confident God will use their commitment to strengthen our presence and ministry in country, and that their work will further our mission to create a place where the people of Guinea learn to see and be present to the cries of the sick, the cries of the poor, and the cries of the land, and find the hope and skills necessary to do something about it.
The journey has been anything but easy. There were obstacles all along the way, and reasons to quit time and time again. But the faithfulness of our leader, Chuck, along with the rising hope and tireless efforts of our local partners in Guinea, have been abundantly blessed. God is moving in West Africa, and we are thrilled and committed to be a part of furthering His kingdom work in Guinea. Our vision is that one day, all 13 million people in Guinea would know that they are seen and indispensable to the work of God’s kingdom.
But we cannot do this without you.
We would like to ask you to consider supporting our ministry, our founder, or one of our missionaries through prayer and financial giving. Would you be a part of His story for igniting hope throughout Guinea by giving faithfully? We would love to have you join us in this mission; you can find our more and give online at www.hopeignited.org. Blessings to you and your family from our team at Hope Ignited. May the hope of Jesus burn brightly in your life!