Guyana, formerly known as British Guiana, is situated on the
northern edge of South America between Venezuela to the west,
Brazil to the south, and Suriname to the east. The land is rich
in minerals, gold, diamonds, Savannah grass lands, rivers, and
forested mountains. Guyana is Caribbean rather than Hispanic as
other South American countries. Wide avenues, cool wooden
buildings, and tropical vegetation go together to make
Georgetown, the capital, a graceful city.
Though once owned by the British, Guyana gained its
independence in 1966. In 1970 the government was restructured
along socialist lines with strong ties to Russia and Cuba. Now,
twenty-eight years later, the country is slowly making economic
The 800,000 plus inhabitants are composed of descendants
from Africa and India with some Europeans, Chinese, and original
Amerindians mixed in.
All toll they are some of the friendliest people you will
ever meet. Religious beliefs are varied. The British brought
the Anglican, Catholic, and various Protestant religions to this
nation. A large segment of the population came to this country
from India, therefore both Muslim and Hindu religions are very
The name of the country means, "Land of Many Waters." The
huge Essequibo River flows from near the Brazilian border
northward for 400 miles. Much of the country is empty and
unexplored, a challenge for anyone with a desire for pioneering
and roughing it.
The people themselves are eager to have contact with other
peoples, especially those who bring the "Good News." The
honest, good-hearted, attitude of most of Guyana's population
make this nation one of the whitest unto harvest of any nation in
the world today.
In 1980 the Spanish Fort, Alabama, church targeted this
nation with World Bible School correspondence courses. Responses
to the newspaper ads were overwhelming, creating a wonderful
problem: How to follow-up? Spanish Fort asked their preacher,
Wayne Pruette, to gather a few students from the Trinidad School
of Preaching to go to Guyana to look for some of the WBS students
requesting baptism. Nine were immersed.
In 1982 Bennie Mullins, one of the Spanish Fort elders, his
wife, Kitty, and their preacher Dave Mellor visited Guyana and
baptized another ten. A graduate of the Trinidad School of
Preaching, John Lewis, was brought in to work with these new
converts. Bennie then contacted Don Starks, director of
Caribbean Campaigns for Christ, and requested that he organize a
formal campaign group to try to reach the ever-increasing number
of WBS students.
The day after Thanksgiving, 1983, 14 American Christians
arrived in Guyana not really knowing what to expect. Letters had
been sent to all the WBS students inviting them to come to the
Park Hotel to study in person with teachers from the United
States. Ads were also placed in the newspaper. The hotel had a
large verandah that could be used for studies if any of the WBS
students came. Well, come they did, more than 200 of them from
as far away as two hundred and fifty miles: businessmen, teachers,
farmers, ranchers, men, women, young and old. By Sunday there
was already a sizable congregation. Worship services were
conducted in the hotel. By the close of that campaign, 51 had
obeyed the gospel, and a building for the new congregation to
meet in had been rented.
In 1984, the same strategy was used to contact WBS students.
Over 400 came from far and near. They came by boat, bus, car, on
foot or a combination of these. The first Sunday of the
campaign, workers were thrilled to see many of the converts from
the '83 campaign. The next Lord's Day, 138 gathered to worship
God. But the campaign was not over yet. Some of the new
converts brought their friends to be taught. On the last day of
the campaign, 21 more were immersed, bringing the total converts
in 1984 to 102.
More than 500 WBS students came to study with workers during
the 1985 campaign. One hundred twenty-eight were converted. Among the 1985 converts
was Ivan Persaud, a taxi driver. Ivan had a large family and he
wanted them to know the Truth he had found. One by one they
came. First his son, Godfrey, who would later graduate #1 in his
class from the Guyana International Bible Institute (GIBI). Next
came his daughters, Samatha and Radha. Samatha also later
graduated #1 in her class from GIBI and continues to be a
tireless worker for the Lord's church.
Ivan's good wife, Josada, spreads her love and sweet spirit
around to everyone she meets, working alongside her husband as he
serves as a leader in the Georgetown church. Every U.S. Christian who has
gone to Guyana in the last 12 years has enjoyed Ivan's expert
Following the 1985 campaign, Bennie and Kitty Mullins stayed
in Guyana. Bennie, an executive with International Paper, was
offered early retirement, and he received a Guyana Work permit
almost simultaneously. Soon after he arrived, Bennie started the
Guyana International Bible Institute, known then as The School
of Biblical Studies-Georgetown. Video Bible lessons from various
Schools of Preaching were used to teach the courses.
Another significant event in 1985 was the arrival of a
Guyanese couple, Troxley and Claudette Norville, who had been
living in Trinidad for several years. Troxley took over the
preaching at the Georgetown church which by this time had a
membership of about 65 faithful Christians.
By 1986, it was felt necessary to have 2 World Bible School
campaigns because of the number of students enrolled in the
correspondence courses as well as the great track record of
responses to the previous campaigns. Five hundred twenty-two registered for studies
in April '86; 127 obeyed their Lord. Evening services were
conducted for the first time in Guyana in the August '86 crusade.
David Lusk, presently the minister of the Webb Chapel church in
Dallas, Texas, was the speaker. All crusade records were broken
with 622 registrations and 152 baptisms.
People were coming to these campaigns from all over the
nation of Guyana and were being won to Christ. However, many of
the converts lived outside the capital city and had no place near
their home to worship. A few congregations had sprung up meeting
in homes throughout the nation but most new Christians were alone.
Thus in April, 1987, the "mini-crusade" concept was
introduced. The crusaders were divided into 5 groups, one
meeting with students at the hotel in Georgetown. A few workers
canvassed the area around Leonora on the West Coast Demerara.
Another group went to the Island of Leguan in the big Essequibo
River. Others met students at a guest house in Anna Regina on
the Essequibo Coast. And others went on to Charity on the
Pomeroon River. A combined total of 157 were baptized and 4 new
congregations were established.
Brethren found a dilapidated church building in the village
of Wales on the West Bank Demerara. It was purchased and
renovated. Then in September '87, Don Starks took a group to
Wales and planted another congregation of the Lord's church.
Another group went out to Enmore on the East Coast Demerara where
a group had sprung up in the home of a young man, Kenneth
Finlayson, converted in 1985.
In 1988 Don Starks took 5 separate groups, conducting 2
World Bible School crusades in the capital city and 3 more
campaigns in remote areas.
Don, who had initiated these WBS campaigns, was diagnosed
with cancer in December 1990. His last trip to Guyana was in
July of 1993, just 5 months before he lost the battle and passed away on New
Year's Day, 1994. Don's wife, Marian, continues to coordinate
these efforts. She also maintains a database of WBS students in
World Bible School Campaigns each year continues to add
hundreds to the body of Christ and to establish congregations in
outlying areas such as the one in Bartica that was established in
1989. Bartica is a gold and diamond mining community some 60
miles inland. The only way to reach this town is by boat.
Several congregations have been established during campaigns
in the Berbice area in recent years by David Lusk and members of
the Webb Chapel church. These new congregations include: Bath
Settlement, Blairmont, #8 Village, as well as in Pouderoyen on
the West Coast Demerara and Alexander Village in the Georgetown
area. Campaign workers in Guyana frequently have found themselves
in strange and unusual situations, such as crossing the huge
Essequibo River in a small speed boat, and even paddling down
jungle rivers infested with piranha fish to look for WBS
students. Churches have been established up and down the many
rivers of Guyana, in homes of those who first learned the truth
in the many campaigns conducted in Georgetown and the villages
alongside the highways and byways of this South American nation.
Many American missionaries have worked full time in Guyana
including: Eunice Conn, Claryce Arnold, Bennie and Kitty
Mullins, Noel Lynd, Steve and Linda Hurst, Brad Smith, Bruce
House, Jack and Margaret Epperson, Lonnie Hargett, Glen and
Marianne Wilcutt, Bob and Flo Calderwood, Samantha Finlayson,
Steve and Colleen DeLoach, and Jerry and Mary Alice
Today the work continues to reap a tremendous harvest among
the Guyanese people. Partners In Progress conducts between
8-10 medical missions each summer resulting in more than 400
people being saved. Other independent campaigns result in an
additional 200 people surrendering their lives to the will of
God. So, each summer some 600 precious people learn and obey
God's truths. Seventy-six congregations now dot the countryside of this
very receptive nation.
The challenge remains: how do we continue to teach and
mature these new converts? GIBI is desperately trying to train
preachers to minister to all these new churches, but we are
losing ground each year. More churches are being established
than preachers can be trained. Men like Truitt Adair, the late
Abe Lincoln, and Ed Wharton have come from the Sunset
International Bible institute to help. Jack Exum, the late Jim
Massey, Mike Cagle, Eddie Bhawanie have offered their talents in
help to mature the immature.
Through the grace and goodness of God the work in Guyana is
as profitable and productive today as it has been in the past.
Truly this is a nation where the "fields are white unto harvest."
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