Guyana, whose name is an Amerindian word meaning "land of many waters," is the only South American country that lists English as its official language. Colonized by the Netherlands in the early 1600s, the Dutch finally ceded permanent control to Great Britain in 1814. The country was then known as British Guiana until 1970 when it officially became the Republic of Guyana. As of 2018, Guyana’s population is approximately 786,000.
Even though it is located on the continent of South America, culturally, Guyana is considered to be much more connected to the Caribbean than to the typical Latin way of life. Georgetown, the capital city, is known as "The Garden City of the Caribbean."
Racially and ethnically diverse, modern-day Guyana encompasses, in addition to the large Indian element, people of African, European, and Chinese ancestry, as well as aboriginal groups. However, in spite of their diverse ethnic backgrounds, these groups share the common languages of English and Creole. Religious affiliations in Guyana are as diverse as the Guyanese ancestry, including Hindus, Muslims, Roman Catholics, Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and many other cults. Over 60% of the people call themselves Christians, but less than 3% of the population would fall into the category that we would be comfortable calling fundamentalists or Bible-believers. The need for more missionaries is staggering!
BIMI missionaries Noel and Charlene Shrivnauth have been serving in Guyana since 1994. They have established a strong local church in Eccles, an area just outside of Georgetown. Brother Shrivnauth has diligently trained many national pastors who have planted a significant number of churches around the country. Additionally, Robert and Arianna Woodard are currently on deputation to go to Guyana as our newest missionaries to the Guyanese people.
Four major rivers cross this small tropical country bordered by Venezuela, Brazil, and Suriname. Along those rivers are located hundreds of small villages, many of which have never had a Gospel witness. Approximately 90% of the population resides in a narrow coastal strip of land that includes Georgetown, the country's chief port. Almost 80% of the country is covered by dense rainforest. Guyana is home to Kaieteur Falls, the world's largest single drop waterfall whose waters plunge a stunning 700 feet! Missionaries considering Guyana can choose between the relatively modern lifestyle of the cities or the more rugged standard of living in the jungle.
Perhaps best known for the tragic events of 1978 when 918 members of the infamous Peoples Temple cult died in a mass murder/suicide in the city of Jonestown, Guyana stands today in desperate need of God-called missionaries who will give their lives as "living sacrifices" to reach the hearts and souls of her people. An old Guyanese village chief, whose village sincerely wanted a missionary to come and live among them, was sorely disappointed when he was told that there was no one available to go to his village. Not understanding the problem, he innocently asked, "If the Bible says ‘Go,’ and my village and I say, 'Come,' why is there no missionary for our village?" Can you answer the old chief's question? Who will GO to be Guyana's next missionary?