Meet Mr. Bah
We met Mr. Bah almost immediately upon our arrival in Conakry, because he has been the guardian and facility manager of the house we are renting for over 12 years. He is a good man with a beautiful family, but he is certainly not a man of means as can be seen from his go-to “save the ta-tas” work shirt. A few weeks back, in preparation for our annual “Ignite Conference 2019,” I was visiting a number of churches to spread the word. The pastor at one of the churches graciously gifted me a new shirt and tie. I was excited about the gift, but soon realized that the shirt was too big for me, so I began contemplating what I could do with it. Mr. Bah was the last person on my mind because for someone that works outside most of the day in Conakry, Guinea, a long-sleeve shirt and tie is not a very sensible choice. However, without thinking too much, I decided he may want it, so I placed it outside and told him he could try it on to see if it even fit.
I walked back inside only to have Mr. Bah come barging through the front door with his new shirt buttoned up, an untied tie strapped over his shoulder and the biggest smile I have ever seen on the man. Through his excitement, he managed to tell me that he had never owned a shirt and tie combo before, but that since he was a young boy it had always been one of his dreams. Of course, he didn’t know how to tie the tie so he asked me if I could teach him, a request I was happy to fulfill. Once his shirt and tie were exactly how he wanted them, he ran out to the shed where he keeps a lot of his belongings and came back wearing a pair of pants he had acquired who knows how many years ago, the perfect finish to his new outfit. After saying thank you over and and over again, I went back into the house to get my wife to have her come see the new and improved Mr. Bah. As we came outside, we heard a lot of noise coming from the street. We walked down to figure out what was happening, and found Mr. Bah showing off his new clothes to all the neighboring guardians, a new look that led them all to start cheering and clapping for him. Mr. Bah was so happy and so proud that he finished his days’ work in his new outfit, despite the blistering heat, and even chose to make the 1km walk home wearing his new clothes. The next morning he told me that as he walked home through his own neighborhood, his neighbors clapped and shouted for him as well, and sparing me the details, said that he and his wife were a little closer than usual that night!
All of this to say, you never know what kind of impact a small and seemingly meaningless act of kindness can have on another person. We didn’t come to Guinea to hand out shirts and ties, but it is good reminder as we continue our efforts to do what we often think are “bigger and better” things, that most often it is the little things that make the biggest difference. It only takes a spark to ignited a transformation - HOPE IGNITED.