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November 19, 2010

Local missionary killed in W. Africa

‘Modern day martyr’ studied to evangelize his home country

JACKSONVILLE — Michael Loua was a passionate Christian — he loved his family, he loved his home country of Guinea, West Africa, but most importantly, he loved his God.

This weekend, Michael was killed because of his passion to lead those in his home country to his Lord.

“He was a preacher; he was an evangelist, so he loved to evangelize people and to lead people to the Lord,” said Michael’s widow, Elisabeth Loua.

Elis-abeth said now her children are uncomfortable with the idea of going back to Guinea.

“When I got the news (of Michael’s death) I thought, ‘I have to go back (to Guinea)’, but my son said no, that it is too dangerous,” she said.

And so Elisabeth, eight months pregnant, and her three children, ages 14, 12 and 4, will stay in Jacksonville and try to comprehend and accept what has happened.

Well before Michael returned to Guinea five months ago — his fourth trip back to the West African nation since his graduation from the Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary — he knew he would return to the nation to preach the Christian Gospel to the people of his homeland.

“Our life condition was better here,” Elisabeth said. “But he decided he needed to go back. He came here to learn and go back home and help his people. People asked him many times to open a church here, but he said, ‘No. I must go back home.’”

BMATS President Dr. Charley Holmes said Michael was devout in his studies to achieve his goal of returning to Guinea and serve God in the 85-percent Muslim nation.

“He was a very disciplined student and very enthusiastic about his mission work at home,” Holmes said. “He was there arranging to get a home purchased for his family.”

But Michael was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel about three weeks before his death.

Michael was no stranger to persecution for his religious beliefs and for his need to teach his people about Christianity.

“Michael had a huge scar on his forehead — he got it when he was stoned for preaching the Gospel,” said Robert Corbell, pastor of River of Life in Rusk, where Michael, Elisabeth and their children visited often.

Michael also taught missions classes at River of Life’s School of Ministry.

“He is a modern Paul,” Corbell said. “He was passionate. He loved his people. He loved Guinea. He was a man with vision and he wanted to change his country.”

Corbell said Michael’s remains are safe, but unreachable at the time.

“His body is safe. Someone is protecting it,” he said. “But his family can’t go in and get it because of the danger. The person guarding his body is really risking their life to do so.”

Michael formerly served in the military in Guinea. It was during this time a converted Muslim preached to him and prayed with him. Michael claimed it was that experience that converted him to Christianity.

“I was called by God to serve Him in 1985,” Michael said in a YouTube video posted in 2007. “I’m there (in Jacksonville) to get myself ready to go back (to Guinea). When God called me, he said to me to work with the Muslim people.”

Holmes said Michael always held this desire to serve God by preaching to those in Guinea close to his heart.

“He was a leader in his own country — he was a former military officer,” Holmes said. “He always used the influence he had to further the Gospel, and he paid the ultimate price.”

Corbell said Michael is a true martyr.

“Michael received the greatest reward, as a martyr,” he said. “I think if every one of us Christians would be willing to die for the Gospel, the Gospel would spread.

“Michael showed us what it’s all about.”

Holmes said there is no way to explain fully how something like this could happen to someone like Michael.

“There is no way we can ever understand, this side of eternity,” he said. “But we know that God is in control and all things work out in the best interest of those who follow Him and to His glory.”

Corbell said while Michael’s death is sad, his life and his work is affecting people in Jacksonville.

“This one man’s life is bringing all kinds of churches together, to partner together,” he said. “The Bible says, ‘All things work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).’

“Even this is working for good.”

Elisabeth said her baby, due in about three weeks, will be named after Michael.

“I don’t know if it’s God revealing it to him, but even before he left, when he found out (that she was pregnant), he said, ‘That one will be Michael,’” Elisabeth said. “I said, ‘No, we do not want a house full of Michaels.’

“Even when he was there and I asked him about it, he said the baby would be called Michael. When I said no, he said we would talk about it when he came back. Because that cannot happen, I want to name the baby Michael.”

Elisabeth also said she and others are working to bring her mother from Africa to help her raise her children.

“I will feel very comfortable if she comes over,” Elisabeth said. “She raised all of her children according to the Bible. I do not have the means to take my children to daycare, and I am very proud of the education she gave me, so it will be helpful if I get her here to help.”

Corbell said the family does have a need for monetary support, and an account has been established at Austin Bank. Anyone wishing to donate can make the deposit to the Michael Loua Estate.

Elisabeth is also in need of baby items.

“She hasn’t even had a baby shower yet,” Corbell said.

Corbell also said the children will need continued support as well.

“If people could even begin buying them Christmas presents, that would be wonderful,” he said. “We should adopt this family. We should honor them to the end.”

But above all, he said, the family needs prayer — especially the children, who he hopes learn a lesson from their father’s life.

“This is painful. It’s going to be painful for a while,” he said. “But this is what greatness looks like.

“It’s heartbreaking. It’s very sad. But it’s very powerful. That’s love. Michael was motivated by love — love of country and love of family.”

The video of Michael Loua is located at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cM7CslYfNGk

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