“A mighty tree is fallen.”

Odupon atutu (“a mighty tree is fallen”) is an Ashanti phrase from West Africa, used to announce the death of kings, nobility, and the great.

Tio Sabino, one of the very first evangelical Christians in Guinea-Bissau (one of the smallest nations in Africa), passed away June 11/11. A strong national believer, he left behind some heavy hearts, but also a wonderful legacy for his family and community. He was a driving force behind the evangelization and church-planting in the Balanta area. Although small in stature, he was truly a spiritual “giant.”

As a teenager, Tio Sabino was the first Christian believer in the Bissorã region. Though he encountered much opposition, he clung to his dream of seeing his entire home area coming to Christ. As Tio grew, so did his faith. Eventually he married a Christian lady. Though shamans cursed their marriage, the young couple was blessed with seven children; all are now following the Lord. One of their sons became the pastor of the largest church in Guinea-Bissau; another son joined the Translation Commission of the Evangelical Church and was one of the facilitators of the Guinea-Bissau Bible Translation and Literacy Project for several years. Both daughters married pastors.

Tio Sabino himself never lost the vision God had given him, and dreamed of a clinic that would draw people to faith in Jesus. In the late 1970s, his dream became a reality. Worldwide Evangelization for Christ (WEC) built a clinic in Lendem, right next to his village, which spread the light of the gospel for many years. In fact, most of the evangelical Christians in Guinea-Bissau came from this very area!

When the clinic was abandoned in the mid 1990s, the Evangelical Church decided to give the property to build the Guinea-Bissau Bible Translation Centre. From this hub, national Bible translators, literacy teachers, and oral story-tellers are being trained and sent out to (initially) 10 unique language groups. Global PartnerLink is the funding partner for this exciting outreach.

Tio Sabino’s legacy is seen in the daring vision of reaching the 1.6 million people of his country with the light of God’s Word in their own heart language!