First full day in Sierra Leone. It’s been two years since Bethel has sent a team here to work with our partners – Grace Evangelical Ministries (GEM). Knowing how fragile everything is here we expected regression in almost all areas but, by God’s grace, what we’ve found instead was great progress in almost all areas. Since our last visit, two new churches have been launched, our primary school is bursting at the seams and a new secondary school has been launched. Despite schools being closed for a year and a full year being crammed into a semester, 90% of our graduating primary students passed the national entrance test for secondary school. The headmistress did a great job rallying teachers to stay connected to students through home visits, even when the schools were closed. We heard very encouraging stories of ministry expansion, conversions out of Islam and real life transformation through faith in Jesus. One young man who formerly was the leader of the local secret society is now teaching his old friends about life with Jesus. Praise God!
We started the day visiting our school and are pleased to report that the toilet situation was much improved and the feeding program is restarting the semester next week. A qualified headmistress, certified teachers, instructional materials, food and toilets have led to almost a doubling of the primary school. We are visiting the secondary school tomorrow. We met privately with each of the pastors and were pleased with the growth and health of the ministry. Some of the pastors of the new churches were frustrated by the new travel burden they faced but they were eager to see how God would provide for them.
We visited the land that Bethel helped GEM purchase through All In and saw the well that has been dug. It was fun to dream about the buildings that would house the new ministry that will be launched there. There appears to be plenty of space for all that is planned and we hope to see the drawings done by the government engineers before we leave.
We finished the evening with dinner with the pastors and their wives. It was good to see their camaraderie and the way the husbands and wives interacted. Only downside might have been the food. The fried rice with cut up hot dogs served with fried fish (Kine, with head on) tasted fine but the real test will be a couple of days from now, if you know what I mean.
Low point – a mouse and a roach in my room. Killed the roach but missed the mouse. Worse part was the dream that a roach was in my shirt. Sure hope it was a dream. And just a roach.
Tomorrow we are reviewing financials with the book keeper, visiting the secondary school, meeting on the scholarship program and having dinner with all the teachers. Please pray for wisdom for Jeff and me to see what God wants us to see, to discern the difference between biblical and cultural differences and for protection from any food or water issues.
Fritz Hager, Executive Pastor