The Maninka people are part of a large linguistic and cultural group located in West Africa. They number almost two million people in Guinea alone. These are a people who believe that to be a Maninka is to be a Muslim. As Muslims, though working very hard to be in submission to God, they have no peace with God or assurance of eternal life.
While on furlough in 1987, David and Faith Jaeger, missionaries sent from Bethlehem Baptist Church serving with Society of International Ministries (SIM), shared a vision for the Maninka people with the congregation. They challenged the church to consider a significant commitment to these people that would include the sending of a church-planting team. The Jaegers's vision grew out of their work in neighboring Liberia, where they had contact with a Maninka man who came originally from Guinea. After being almost completely closed to missionaries for 25 years, Guinea became open again in 1984 following a change of government. David Jaeger was one of the first SIM missionaries to travel into Guinea to explore the possibility of opening up a new work among the Maninka.
The leadership of Bethlehem church knew it would be a challenge if they felt this was a people group on which God wanted them to focus through a people group adoption, but the church took up the challenge. They began a learning process so that there could be further understanding of what an unreached people group is and what is meant by the adoption of such a group. The church's Foreign Missions Committee gave extensive consideration to this project , and with the strong support of the pastoral staff, they moved forward with the adoption. A Maninka Advocate Team was formed under the leadership of Char Ransom to promote the cause of the Maninka in the church.
On December 2, 1990 the church formally voted to adopt the Maninka people as their people group. Their commitment was reaffirmed on October 30, 1996. The covenant reads as follows:
Our Maninka Covenant
Believing that the pursuit of worshipers from every tribe and tongue and people and nation is the shared privilege and responsibility of every local church, and that this conviction is based on the character and promises of God as revealed in the Scriptures
Believing that it is possible through God's enabling of our collective faith and obedience to become the instruments of salvation for a people yet without the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we the people of
Bethlehem Baptist Church
covenant with one another and with our Lord to adopt the
Maninka People of Guinea, West Africa
as our spiritual joy and responsibility to the end that we might be instruments in the preaching of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ among this people.
It shall be our purpose, as a congregation, to become informed about this people group, to systematically pray for their salvation and for the birthing among them of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to beseech the Lord of the harvest to raise up laborers for the Maninka from within Bethlehem and the wider body of Christ.
In the implementation of this goal, we are seeking to send in a manner worthy of God those whom God raises up from Bethlehem to go out for the sake of His name and the salvation of the Maninka. Together we resolve to support them spiritually, practically, emotionally, and financially.
On December 2, 1990 we as a church voted to adopt the Maninka people and on this day, October 30, 1996, we re-affirm our commitment to give our prayers, our people and our resources to this end. We renew this commitment for a period of five years, beginning October 30,1996, and will review and evaluate our commitment in 2001. We enter this agreement as a cooperating agent with
(Society of International Ministries)
(This Covenant was signed by the pastor John Piper, SIM International representative David Jaeger, Bethlehem Maninka Team representative Faith Jaeger, and Bethlehem Maninka Advocate Team representative Char Ransom.)
Prior to the original adoption in 1990, God had raised up three couples from the congregation that were seeking God's will for their role in reaching unreached peoples of the earth. Through the church's adoption of the Maninka people God gave these families a burden for the Maninka. These three families along with the Jaegers formed the Bethlehem Maninka Team. These families joined SIM, the Jaegers' mission agency, and now serve with them in Guinea. The church continues to seek further "reinforcements" for the Maninka Team.
The church's Maninka Advocate Team, led by Char Ransom, meets regularly at the church to pray for the Maninka people with the information and prayer requests coming from their Maninka missionary team. This advocate team is actively working to keep the Maninka people before the congregation. This work includes educating the congregation concerning the spiritual need of the Maninka people and keeping them aware of the current needs of those ministering among them.
The church among the Maninka people is small, and has experienced much opposition, but God is beginning to do great things among them.
Bethlehem Baptist, Minneapolis, MN
Contact Person: Kurt Swanson
People: Maninka in the Republic of Guinea
P O Box 7900 Charlotte, NC, 28241-7900