A REPORT OF AN
ON-SITE RESEARCH TRIP
OF THE KISSI EHNIC GROUP OF GUINEA
Guinea is one of the least evangelized countries in Africa. It is
primarily a Muslim nation. Most of the ethnic groups have very few
Christians among them. The Kissi are one of the forrest people who
have experienced the most growth, yet they only have seventy
congregations among them. Most of them are Eglise Protestante
Evangelique de Guinee.
Brad Willits gave us some thoughts concerning the
inappropriateness of working among the Kissi. They have been the
focus of most of the efforts of the Evangelical community for at least
three decades. Three-fourths of the EPEG is of the Kissi ethnic
group. There are comity agreements that are being respected by
members of AEMEG. C&MA, Philafricaine, and EPEG were assigned
the forrest region. David Zimmerman, of the C&MA, is doing well in
church planting and is training pastors to evangelize.
The Kissi are one of several ethnic groups who are called the
"forest people" by other Guineans. They are said to have originated
in the more open northern regions of the country, but fled to the
forests to escape the onslaught of Islamic peoples. The Muslems
feared the forest and would not bother them if they stayed there.
Even after many years of Christian witness in this area, the
fetish leaders and family members persecute those who become
Christians. The strongest Fetish leader became a Christian and three
days later died. This story continues to be told, causing some to not
become followers of the Lord.
Eventhough this has been been an area that has had the
primary focus of the C&MA for year, they are now wanting to
concentrate the mission's efforts on more of the Muslim ethnic groups
in rural areas. They feel that they can leave the primarily animistic
forest people groups (Kpelle, Toma, and Kissi) to the EPEG. The
EPEG is not in total agreement with such a move. They feel they
need some of the benefits of having missionaries working among
The EPEG congregation in Kissidougou had fifty people in
attendence the Sunday Eric and James met with them. The leaders
in this congregation had conducted a church growth study in 1994.
They found that there were a total of 125,000 people in Kissi area. In
in Kissidougou prefect there are 83,000 Kissi and ten percent are
Christian. Kissidougou town center has 18,000 people 8.5% of whom
In Kissidougou, there are three C&MA missionary families and
one single involved in leadership development. Philafricane has two
couples in the same city, one couple in evangelism and the other in
Campus Crusade has a national evangelistic team in
Gueckedou. There are two couples for C&MA who are doing relief
work out of the city as well.
Kissdougou is a seventeen hour bus ride (16,000 GF) or
eleven hours by Peugeot (20,000 GF) from Conakry. Faranah to
Kissidougou is not paved, but there are some patches of tarmac that
is heavily pot holed. The dirt road is hard and wide.
Only the Kpelle, the largest non-Islamic ethnic group in the
country, have a larger percentage of Christians (4.9%). The Kissi, for
all the years of evangelism among them, cannot be considered highly
receptive. Only 1.7% of the Kissi are Christian. There are Kissi
Christians in congregations in Conakry, Kissidougou, and Geckedou,
as well as in fourteen villages in and around Kissidougou. Paul
Keidel, missionary and Vice Director of C&MA, characterizes their
responsiveness as slow.
Kissidougou is an overgrown village. These are tall buildings
for produce storage, but all else is basically single storied. The town's
roads are not paved.
Unlike town of similar size in West Africa, Kissidougou has
There is a military base in town.
Liberians brings a lot of products across the boarder, but they
are expensive. The town is so far removed from Conakry that all but
locally grown produce is costly.
There is no electricity in the town. They use a 12 volt system
at the school.
There are no phone either.
Average missionary house is between $100 and $250 per
month. Kankan is more expensive, $250 and up.
Gueckedou is the most Christian town among the Kissi. The
large number of refugees from Sierra Leone contribues to this.
The church in Gueckedou is about to send one of their own to
be a missionary in Beyla.
Institute Biblique Telekoro
The campus is seven kilometers from Kissidougou.
John Faya, a Guinean, is the President of the school. He has
been in this position for the past four years after a one year
internship. Accoding to Keidel, "all preacers in this area come
through here." The Bible School is the only place that trains people
for the ministry, except those who go to the USA.
It is a four year preacher training program. A whole range of
Bible classes is complemented by courses in church doctrine and
mission. Graduates receive a certicificate upon completion of the
There a about thirty students currently enroled in the school.
They are required to live on campus and work in the rice fields. Most
of the classes are taugh by African professors who also live on
campus. Five of the students are converts from Islam, but the
majority are formerly animists from the forrest ethnic groups.
10,000 refugees in Gueckedou area which has more Kissi than
Assemblies of God
There are some Assemblies of God congregations among the
Kissi. There is one congregation in Kissdougou. Many of the
members are from Sierra Leone and Liberia.
There is a New Testament in the mother tongue of the Kissi.
Guinea does not yet seem to be populated by ethnic groups
which are highly receptive to the gospel. The high degree os Islam
seems no also be an environment highly challenging for church
growth. There does seem, however, to be some in roads being made
among the Islamic population in Conakry. This may be the place
where new models will be developed.
There are other ethnic groups and cities in Francophone West
Africa that should be primary targets for new teams of missionaries.
They have a higher potential for extensive church growth.
I recommend that we keep a studied eye and focused prayer
on what is going on in this country. It would even be beneficial for a
two family team to locate in Conakry and be a part of the outreach to
It does not seem that the Kissi would be a target. There are
missionaries and nationals working among them. I recommend
further reseach into the receptivity and needs among other
predominantly animistic ethnic groups in Guinea.