Pecixe Island Churches
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Mathew 28:19, The Bible
The first church in Pecixe was established in 1995 by a team of costaricans missionaries: Isabel Johanning, the group leader; Eugenia Castro, and of Cesar Herrera, as well as Henrique Adas from Brazil, and Domingos Tchuda and Fernando, from Guinea Bissau.
When they arrived to Guinea Bissau in May of that year, the team got established in the center of Guinea Bissau, in a sector called Military District with the main goal of evangelize and help the more needy. With this same purpose they traveled to the Pecixe Island months later.
The team of missionaries redacted a manifest about the good news of the gospel of Jesus in creole, the predominant language in Guinea Bissau, and Eugenia took care of typing many copies that her teammates would carry to the island on November 1995. She, meanwhile, was going to stay in Bissau in charge of the little Mariama, a seven months baby with serious mal nutrition.
The manifest was enrolled like a parchment and was given to the Regulo (chief) of each one of the fifty villages of the island in order to be red to the villagers, as a proof of the arrival of the truth of the Gospel to Pecixe. By the moment that the team arrived to the island, there was already one villager converted to Christ, Ocante, the regulo of the village of Reno. Another regulo, Fernando, from the village of Nangan, also made a choice for Jesus, and this coasted him dearly, because his house was burned and his wife and six kids died.
From 1995 to 1997, Isabel Johanning, César Herrera, Domingos Tchuda and Fernando, kept visiting the island frequently, taking there medications, providing medical treatments and raising up the building that would give shelter to the incipient church. In 1998 they had to suspend the journeys because the civil war started in the country; but after a year, in 1999, the labor was resumed, and César Herrera and his wife Paula were in charge of directing the missionary work in the island until 2002.
Trough them, Edison Rui da Silva, more known as Amán, got to know Jesus, and in 2003, when
César and Paula returned to Bissau, he assumed the pastorate of the church until now. The church nowadays has 80 members.
At this time, there's another church in a Tabanca (village) called Umaya, and although there´s the wish of building more churches in other places, as Amán says, the problem is the lack of leaders, because a lot of them leave the island in order to study in Bissau, due to the poor quality of the education in Pecixe.
The Church nowadays
In 2011, another missioner of HE, Joao Batista Martiniano, visited the island and since then he has become a great support to the Pastor Amán, being an active force in spreading the gospel, preaching in the villages, giving the new believers Bibles in creole, as well as literature with the good news of the Gospel, visiting schools and the small health centers to provide medical treatments and helping women with child delivery. “Thanks to his ministery –says Pastor Amán- the island has felt the impact of the Gospel. Today, he is my partner in expanding the Kingdom of God to other places in the island”.
In this evangelistic labor, have participated other missionaries of House Emmanuel, like Pastor Carlos Souza, Cristina Araujo, Maritza Álvarez, Regina Albuquerque, Daniel y Janina Dinis, as well as the brothers from the Biombo church and the Ministerio Amor por la Fe Internacional (MAFI).
Finally, should be mentioned all the unknown missionaries that traveled to the island and that contributed a lot for the church in Pecixe, to be founded and rooted.
Pecixe is an island of around 100Km2, with a population close to 20 thousand people, all of them belong to the ethnic group Manjaco, wich means “I´m calling you” and it´s the third in size of the country. However, given that most people have migrated to Bissau, the country´s capital, due to the precarious economic situation, it´s estimated that just between 4500 and 5 thousand villagers live nowadays in the island. There are 50 villages that are governed by their own regulo, who is the governor in charge that authorize all the activities that take place in the tabanca, like ceremonies, fanados (circumcision), and others. At the same time, the island has an administrator appointed by the government.
Political-Administrative organization in every village
People are not free to choose if they participle or not in the ceremonies, they have to, since it is mandatory, an example of this is the fanado. The animals designed for sacrifices are captured no matter who is the owner. Is characteristic for the manjacos to perform human sacrifices, including newborn children with disabilities, who are thrown to the sea because they are seen as an irán, however, this have been reduced considerably thanks to the conversion to Christianity of Ocante, the main responsible for the island in this moment. The last verified human sacrifice was in year 2000. The island is considered an excellent place for guests’ reception, who are treated with respect. This was really important for the first missionaries that arrived to the island, because this allowed them to get close to the population.