Case study – Key lessons learned in working with people experiencing poverty and marginalisation

Key lessons learned through working with people experiencing poverty and political instability in Conakry, Guinea.

Moving to Guinea, West Africa in 2003 was a huge step of faith for Nicolas Thébault, his wife Elaine and their young children. They moved to Conakry, Guinea in obedience to a clear call from God to help to support the local leadership of a church planted there with refugees from the Sierra Leonean civil war. Feeling overwhelmed, Nicolas approached his Apostolic Leader, John Kpipi to ask what he should do in the first year. ‘Just enjoy it!’ replied John. 

It took a while to adapt to a completely different culture and to the noise and heat of the local environment, but over time they did come to enjoy their new way of life. Nicolas and Elaine were determined not to bring Westerner’s values to Guinea, but rather to learn about the local culture and to help build a distinctly Guinean church. Nicolas, Elaine and the children had to learn a completely different way of living, loving, teaching and preaching and how to share life with people who live collectively rather than in a way that is individualistic. 

In this video, Nicolas shares vivid stories of the ups and downs of living and working cross-culturally and in an environment where poverty and suffering was a daily norm for the local people. Says Nicolas, “We witnessed poverty and suffering and often could do nothing. The only thing we could do was to be with them and to cry. We could only bear witness to their suffering.” 

During the many years that Nicolas and Elaine lived and worked in Conakry, they helped to establish a vibrant church with local leadership and countless warm and lasting friendships with the local people. Here, Nicolas shares about their experience and some key principles for working cross-culturally with those who are poor and living in politically unstable environments.

As you listen to this video, ask God what he wants to say to you through it. What does he want you to learn? What does he want you to put into practice? 


Recommended Reading

Embracing The Poor: Releasing, Resourcing and Equipping the Poor for World Mission

Editor: David Adams

Publisher: RoperPenberthy Publishing Ltd (July 2011)