Pastor Barry was raised in a devout Muslim family, from the Fullah Tribe - the people that first brought Islam to West Africa. His father intended for him to become an Imam, but while he was a teenager living and working in the local mosque, he met a missionary who patiently and with great respect shared the Gospel with him. Their conversation ended with the missionary saying to Alphonso, “You are blind, but one day you’ll see.” Infuriated, Alphonso left the missionary. Shortly after leaving the missionary, Alphonso had an experience that left him forever changed. Before rising to ring the bells for morning prayers at the mosque, Alphonso heard a voice saying “Come to me.” Three times he got up and there was no one there. Frustrated at not finding the source to the voice, he sought out a Christian pastor who told him it was probably God. Alphonso heard the Gospel again and became just as fervent a Christian as he was a Muslim. He learned all he could about Christianity, and tried to convert his devout Muslim family, but they would have none of it – to the point of his Aunt poisoning him.
After his Aunt poisoned him and he survived, the family took up a collection to give him enough money to get away. He left Sierra Leone, and found work with Mercy Ships in Guinea Bissau, where he met Nana. Nana was also from a Muslim family, and as a teenager would sneak out at night to go to church with her Christian friends. She became a Christian without her parents’ knowledge, and upon learning of her faith, they forbade her to continue attending church. Nana kept sneaking out, and her faith became stronger as she kept learning more about Jesus.
After Alphonso and Nana met, they fell in love and got married. Mercy Ships learned that Alphonso was from Sierra Leone and wanted him to go back to help prepare the way and organize mission work. He was not excited to go back, but he knew God was clearly calling him to take the Gospel to his own people back home. Alphonso and Nana have two beautiful children, and are faithful servants to the Lord, taking the Gospel all across Sierra Leone where he’s always happily greeted with “Pastor Barry!”