Despite its natural resources, this West African country of approximately 8 million people is one of the poorest countries in the world. The United Nations estimates two thirds of its people live on less than $1.25 a day. In the 1990s, Sierra Leone’s blood diamonds fueled many atrocities. Although the civil war ended decades ago, diamond mining remains a contentious issue. The greatest challenges in this region are not economic or political, however, they are spiritual.
We were led by the Lord to visit Sierra Leone in January, 2021 where we were blessed to visit twenty villages to present the Good News. Traveling into the bush is a unique and interesting experience. The narrow roads and makeshift bridges are the only access into many villages. It’s not uncommon to take over an hour and a half to travel 10 to 15 miles on these roads, including frequent tire and other breakdowns, multiple creek crossings, etc. Each arrival triggered a celebratory reception of music and dancing in accordance with the local customs.
Given the dominant presence of Islam, the government leaders were pleased to provide an armed police guard to accompany us. Yes, we made quite a sight entering a small, remote village having little contact with the outside world with 3 open air jeep-like vehicles, accompanied by two uniformed and “we mean business” looking guards hanging on the roll bar! With anti-Christian hostility and fierce threats in many areas, our escorted visit announced to local believers that they are not alone, that they are part of a global family of believers, and that they have the approval and support of the authorities to learn about and worship our Lord and Savior.
The spiritual hunger of Africa’s people is growing. Where Christians are helping to meet the most pressing needs of the people by establishing schools or digging wells, hearts have softened. Practical gestures of love are met with joy and gratitude, inspiring the unsaved to seek the one who sent us. But when they seek, what then? We must be ready to respond. We must train and send church planters and pastors to establish solid Bible teaching churches.
Upon entering a village, the first thing we do is meet with the local chief to pay our respects, answer any questions, gain his permission to present the Gospel message and, of course, invite him to attend. These are Muslim villages with many Christians having personal experiences of being threatened because of their work in evangelism. At one village, the chief told me, “whatever happens to you, I will not be responsible.” Everybody in this community is Muslim. We don’t want you to come and pollute our people with your Isa Masih (Messiah Jesus). Yet, after prayer, he relented and allowed us into his village. In fact, we were not turned away from any village we visited.
This thatch roof makeshift church is evidence of the tide turning, even in areas of persistent anti-Christian hostility. At the time of this photo, this church was only one month old, but had 250 people coming from three villages. Most congregants are new to Christianity, with testimonies similar to this woman, recently converting from a life in the Muslim faith to a new life in Christ.
Please pray for the people of this impoverished nation, that they may be granted strength by the Lord to hear and accept the Good News of Christ Jesus despite hostility from entrenched belief systems. And please consider supporting a church planter at only $50/month in our newest venue.