It’s Complicated

By Randy and Deanna Harrison, serving in Côte d’Ivoire

Randy and Deanna Harrison teach at West Africa Alliance Seminary (FATEAC), Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire—they’re one of three international couples working at the school. Although displaced from the West African nation in December because of political unrest, the team returned to FATEAC in mid-February. The following is an adapted excerpt of the Harrisons’ recent account describing life these days in Abidijan, the country’s capital.

Explaining our circumstances is . . . complicated. The situation in our country of service, Cote d’Ivoire, is complicated. It became complicated when we ended up with two men claiming to be president at the same time a few months ago; it certainly hasn’t gotten any simpler since then.   

Even the changing phrases describing what is going on in Côte d’Ivoire infer the increasing complexity of life here. First, everyone talked about “La Situation”; then it became “Le Conflit” (The Conflict). Now folks are openly saying “La Guerre” (The War).


It is hard to imagine that it has only been about a month since we arrived back in Abidjan. So much has happened and is happening. We’ll try to explain, but bear with us. It’s complicated.

The first order of business after arriving in Abidjan was to pack up our stuff and move out of our apartment. Although we felt safe there, the 30-minute drive from our apartment to the seminary, where we teach, winds right past the university, which is always a hot bed of political unrest. We also pass the United Nations’ (UN) camp, where you can almost be guaranteed excitement in the way of demonstrations, protests, sit-ins, UN tanks, or tear gas being used to disperse crowds.

Before and after the UN camp, we encounter various official and unofficial roadblocks manned by soldiers, police, members of the youth militia, and various and sundry self-appointed neighborhood “peace keepers.” Some are semi-pleasant, some are downright scary; they search cars, check identity papers, ask for money—the process has kept our stomachs tied up in knots.

Our colleagues, Matt and Cindy Cook, decided to finish up their classes in concentrated, modular units and relocate to Senegal. Their lovely home is only a 10-minute walk from FATEAC, and they very kindly invited us to move in with them and then to take over the house when they moved to Senegal earlier this month. So far, our new neighborhood is calm (although we can sometimes hear shooting in the distance), and commuting to work is 100-percent less complicated.

Complications in Daily Life

We wish we could say the same for the whole city. Thousands are fleeing certain neighborhoods where the fighting is most fierce. People are stuck in their houses, unable to venture out into their streets, which have become battlefields. In the “calmer neighborhoods,” people are taking in the displaced; one of our students was telling us that his family now has 14 extra relatives living with them.

And we are putting clean sheets on our guest bed. As colleagues find it more and more challenging to get to work, we have invited them to weather the storm with us here.

In the meantime, there are even more complications. Shortages are everywhere—gas is completely unavailable, and rumors are that the diesel supply is about to run out. That, of course, affects public transportation. We also can’t find propane gas, which we use for cooking. Major banks have closed, making it challenging for the seminary to pay teachers and for students to receive scholarship moneys. The only reason we have personal cash right now is because we brought some with us from Senegal. Of course, that can’t last forever.

But our problems are minor compared to those of our African brothers and sisters. Because of money shortages, the economy is breaking down. Salaries aren’t being paid, schools are closing, and food prices are soaring. Every church service and prayer meeting seems to be centered on praying for the country, for victims of the war, and for peace. 

Amazingly enough, in the midst of all of these complications, second semester classes at FATEAC have started. Although some students haven’t been able to make it to class due to adverse circumstances, the majority are showing up and making a huge effort to study and concentrate despite very challenging circumstances. We are busy trying to make up the classes we missed from last semester as well as getting started on this semester’s work. 


In an effort to share honestly about some of the complications of life in Côte d’Ivoire, we don’t want to give the wrong impression. Although grieve for, and are in constant prayer for, the difficult, complicated circumstances and countrywide suffering, we are nonetheless grateful to be here.

We are grateful for finding a home within walking distance of FATEAC. We are grateful for the Cooks’ kind hospitality. We are grateful that our team leaders, Jeter and Laura Livingston, are nearby. We are grateful for the appreciation that our students and fellow teachers have expressed at our return. We are grateful to be able to continue to teach at FATEAC and to be here for the students during this difficult time. We are grateful that our presence can be an encouragement to the school’s faculty and staff.

We don’t know what the future holds. We suspect that our lives may get even more complicated. But we are at peace that, for now, we are where the Lord wants us to be. And that’s the simple, uncomplicated truth.

What You Can Do

“There has also been looting of stores owned by foreigners and increasing rhetoric inciting anger against foreigners,” writes Dr. Chris Braun, Alliance Regional Director for Africa. “Prayer is desperately needed for Côte d’Ivoire.”

Donate to Alliance Great Commission Ministries. In doing so, you partner with Alliance workers, like the Harrisons, to ensure that the message of God’s healing grace and reconciliation continues to be proclaimed to people desperate for the good news.

Learn More

Read an article about how God has provided for the FATEAC family during this crisis.


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