Sulayman “Sol” Bah, a former Muslim, came from Gambia in West Africa 21 years ago as a student. His intent was to live the American dream, make a lot of money and eventually return to Gambia a wealthy man driving a Mercedes and living in a two-story house.
His plans changed after meeting his wife Manuela.
After agreeing to go to church with her, Sol’s life changed dramatically. He became a Christian. He no longer wanted to go back to Gambia with a display of his wealth – he wanted to go back to help the impoverished.
The couple founded Shared Blessings, a ministry based in Vancouver that offers support to the people of Gambia.
Manuela is originally from Romania, but came to the U.S. 20 years ago. She and her family came to the states as political and religious refugees while Romania was still a Communist country.
She came here for religious freedom. She says she was “overwhelmed” by the experience of religious freedom, most notably on July 4th, after only a few >months in the States she heard an entire crowd singing “God Bless America.”
Her response was, “Out in the open, in the park? People are singing about God?” It took a while for her to get used to the idea, growing up in a country where God couldn’t be discussed freely.
“It’s truly a country of opportunity, a county of freedom,” she said. “We are so grateful to be American citizens.”
Each year, Sol and Manuela travel back to Gambia to run their primary school, Emmanuel Mission Center. The school now has a staff of 14 and teaches 270 children, many of who would not have an opportunity to go to school otherwise.
Audio produced by Evan Newman