Church Growth, Evangelism Reach New Heights in Sierra Leone
July 17, 2013
Residents in this remote Sierre Leone village are eager to hear a message from God’s Word.
Good news gets people excited, and this news in particular prompted the inhabitants of Masap to clap their hands and shout for joy.
After hearing that no church existed in the area, native missionaries from Trinity Gospel Ministries met with leaders of this Sierra Leone farming community in March. The missionaries explained they were Christians and they wanted to tell the people about Jesus Christ. If the villagers were interested, they would like to start a church for them.
Immediately the people responded with applause. The God of heaven had answered their prayers.
“We have suffered so much and all other things have failed us,” said one community elder. “But if you can come with a church here, then we will be happy.”
Two weeks later a team of 14 missionaries came to Masap and conducted evangelism outreach in four villages. It was surprising for them to discover the gospel had been preached in the district for over 120 years, yet Masap had somehow not been reached. They initiated churches in two of the four villages they visited—Masap and Kategiyan.
That first Sunday when the village gathered for worship, 164 people came together in a spirit of celebration and praise. The area chief, village chief, and other Masap leaders all gave their hearts to Christ.
A similar scene was repeated in Kategiyan, where the entire village welcomed the gospel message and established a church. About 75 people attended that first service.
“Seeing the beauty of what is already happening in Masap and Kategiyan, the other villages are asking that we do the same for them,” wrote the leader of Trinity Gospel Ministries in a recent report to Christian Aid Mission. “There are so many villages and chiefdoms in the five districts in the north of Sierra Leone that are virtually void of the presence of the church of Christ, so necessity is laid on our spirits to do our part and bring a change.”
It’s time the people of Masap—and all Sierra Leoneans for that matter—had something to celebrate. From 1991 to 2002 their nation was engulfed in a brutal civil war that took the lives of some 50,000 citizens. Perhaps the most visible atrocities of the war are the thousands of amputees whose arms, legs, and ears were cut off by unspeakably cruel rebel soldiers.
Trinity Gospel Ministries established a headquarters in the capital city of Freetown in 1997 to preach the gospel to unreached people in outlying villages and to plant churches. Extending compassionate care to amputees, widows, orphaned children, and refugees is a core component of their work.
At Buya War Amputee and Wounded Fellowship, a pastor and his team meet with amputees and their families every Sunday for fellowship. One week they handed out 23 bags of rice to attendees.
“This has helped even the few Muslims among them to feel the practical love of Jesus Christ in action, and has caused some of them to be more open in heart to Jesus and His gospel,” the leader reported.
Through funds from Christian Aid donors, the ministry established the only church in the Freetown refugee camp after the war. As a result, many displaced people came to know Christ and grew in their faith. They took the message of God’s love with them when they returned to their villages.
The new church building in Masap
Sierra Leone enjoys a remarkable degree of religious freedom, but Islamic radicals are gaining influence in the country, particularly in the north. Last year the ministry made a strategic decision to relocate to Makeni, the primary city in the Northern Province.
The Masap area, which comprises the headquarters village by the same name and six adjacent villages, is located 22 miles from Makeni.
The ministry’s leader is greatly encouraged by the fruitful harvest he is witnessing in the northern villages. “We have been baptizing those who are being converted to Christ during our gospel campaigns in the villages, as we see the eagerness in the people to become disciples,” he said. “Pray for them to be steadfast in Christ, as there is usually strong persecution from those in the Muslim faith.”
As their church planting movement progresses, two great challenges are emerging. One is the need to disciple those who turn to Christ. The other pressing need is to raise up leaders for the new churches.
An interdenominational Bible school started by the ministry last year is serving a crucial role in developing disciples and spiritual leaders. Called “Abundant Waters School of Ministry and Evangelism” (AWSOME), the program is a simple curriculum covering the foundations of the Christian faith.
Because prospective students living in the villages cannot make the trek to Makeni where the school is based, there are plans for an optional mobile classroom.
“The mobile school will be moved to the doorsteps of the laymen in the villages,” said the school director. “We have already started one in the city of Makeni, which is for all churches, and more and more Christians are becoming interested. We are trusting God to use this school in a big way to shape the destiny of His church in the north.”
Trinity Gospel Ministries provides assistance to amputees and their families.
The Bible school is in need of a good generator as well as a sturdy vehicle to navigate the rough roads to these remote villages. Assistance with operating costs is also needed, since the school plans to forego charging tuition to poor villagers.
Sierra Leone remains deeply scarred by the war, and Christian ministries can play a crucial role in healing the wounds. Training believers to meet these needs and to be firmly planted in the Word of God also serves to create more vibrant, unified churches.
The key to his country’s restoration, says the leader of Trinity Gospel Ministries, is spiritual revival.
“It is my profound conviction that part of my divine assignment as a called minister is to foster revival in our nation, and this has been a vision I have been carrying and moving with for over a decade now,” he said.
“Please continue to pray for this move of glory, as we believe this is the greatest good that can happen to our nation.”