Nyamway, Twenty Years Later
Loron Christians near Nyamway, 2007
Almost twenty years ago, in the summer of 1987, Marina and I moved to the northeast corner of Ivory Coast to work among the unevangelised Loron tribal people.
On our first journey north we had the use of a Peugeot 504 estate car/station wagon. I wish I had a photograph of the trip, because the car was a sight to behold! It was absolutely packed. The roof rack and rear section were loaded with suitcases and four months supply of food, the floor space behind the front seats was full of books, bags, and odds and ends, and three children and a seven month old baby, Leanne, were squeezed into the back seat.
Altogether the trip took over 16 hours to complete. The first twelve hours went great, but when it started to get dark, and as the condition of the dirt roads gradually deteriorated, Marina and I began to exchange anxious glances.
Rainy season was in full swing, and the road, which had been quite passable in June when another missionary and I had made a short visit to the area, was now transformed into an unpredictable obstacle course. Water holes and deep furrows in the road were appearing with increasing regularity. A section of the main road was washed away, so we had to make a detour on to a much narrower road in order to continue our journey.
One by one we successfully negotiated each of the water holes and gullies. That is, until we arrived at a long stretch of water near the village of Nyamway. By now it was pitch black, and it was very difficult to see the way ahead.
As we went through the water we heard a loud thump as we hit something solid underneath. Our hearts skipped a beat, but we kept going and we were able to get out the other side. We stopped and had a look underneath. There was no oil dripping and we could see no obvious damage, so we decided to continue on.
We moved off in first, slipped the gear stick into second, but when I tried to go into third, it just wouldn’t go. I stopped the car and tried all the gears. The only ones that were working were first and second. We had no third, fourth or fifth gears, or reverse!
Having no reverse gear kind of unnerved us because, earlier on, we had backed up a couple of times to avoid deep holes and large rocks. So, from now on, we had to make the right decision about which direction to go, first time, every time!
Thankfully, after anxiously crawling along the remaining 30 miles in first and second gears we eventually arrived at our destination, several hours behind schedule, but safe and sound nonetheless.
Loron Christians near Nyamway in 1999
On Sunday, for the first time in almost 20 years, we travelled along that same stretch of road near the village of Nyamway where we had knocked the gears out of action.
We went to visit a group of Loron believers in the area. Coming from Burkina, it was nearer for us to use this road section of the road to reach them.
The road hasn’t changed much in the past 20 years. What has changed, though, is the church. Back in 2000, when we last visited the believers here, there were basically only children and teenagers attending the church. Their parents and the older Loron folks had no interest in hearing the Word of God, but the Loron Bible teachers from Gogo continued to work with those who did want to hear the Gospel.
There are now some older folks attending, and the teenagers are in their twenties, have married and have children of their own. In the past seven years the numbers have doubled to around 80, and there are three Bible teachers from the village itself bringing messages from the Word of God. About twenty people have recently become Christians and want to be baptised.