For the past five years, Nazarene missionaries Irma and Mario Martinez have been ministering in Guinea Bissau. Four churches have been planted during their time serving, three of which are in rural communities.
It’s estimated that only 10 percent of the population in Guinea Bissau is Christian, and Mario says their goal is to act as the spark that helps spread the Gospel to the rest of the country. The churches in Guinea Bissau are trying to make that happen in a few different ways.
In one rural area, the church is working to build a health center in the community since the next closest clinic is more than six miles away.
Each church is also built to care for more than just the spiritual needs in the community, providing housing and educational centers for children.
The church in the capital city of Bissau hosts a weekly literacy class for approximately 25 women, most of whom come from a non-Christian faith background. The women learn to read and write in three months, and with those skills, many are able to apply for better jobs.
“This ministry has opened the doors for us in the community,” Mario said.
Simone*, who learned to read and write through the classes at the church, recently got a new high-profile job thanks to the skills she learned. Although she is finished with the class, she is still involved with the ministry by advertising the program and reaching out to other women in the community.
“It’s an honor to be here, to be part of this church family with Irma and her husband, who have supported me,” Simone said.
Thanks to ministries like this in Guinea Bissau, more than 30 youth were baptized at two churches in March.
“[What we are doing] is very important,” said one of the pastors. “We are working for God.”
*Names are changed for protection.