Well…this post is way overdue…but here it is. It may be the only post that I write before I actually leave, so I’ll try to cover all of the details.
1) I’m going to Sierra Leone as a part of a ‘Vision Trip’ from my church. This means that we’re the very first team to go there, so we can scout out the country and figure out which villages are most receptive to the Gospel. Our church’s long term vision is to eventually pick a people group/village to send teams to and share the Gospel. Once we have started a Christian movement among that people group, we will plant a church there. But our job on this trip is to take a first look at these people groups and simply share the Gospel and gauge the receptivity.
2) There are 5 of us going on the trip. Merle, our head pastor…Luke and Jason, our team co-leaders, and my friend Brooke and I. Since the main thing we are doing is sharing the Gospel, we have been using the T4T training book to learn how to craft stories from stories in the Bible. It still baffles me that I have heard most of these stories literally hundreds of times, and yet these people have probably never heard them in their lives. We are so privileged to have the Bible translated into our language (and more than just one translation!).
3) We are leaving Tuesday, May 22, around 3:15 p.m. We will be flying from Kansas City to Chicago. Chicago to London. London to Freetown…the capital of Sierra Leone. We will meet up with a missionary couple (and their 11 month old baby) who work in Guinea (just a country over from Sierra Leone). They will be our “guides” during this trip. We will also have at least one translator. The first night we’re there (May 23) we will stay in Freetown in some sort of hotel ($40/night). The next day, we will travel down the west side of the country (pending that the raining season hasn’t washed out any of the roads..pray!) and we will take a big motorized canoe across the Sherbro River/Straight…which is 2-5 miles wide, depending on where you cross. We will CAMP on this island for 3 days. Yes, I just said camp. I didn’t believe it when I first heard it, either. Sleeping on a tent…in a foreign countries..with who-knows how many reptiles. Jesus, help me! Most likely, we will be camping near the beach. Now THAT is awesome. We will spend the day among the Sherbro people and literally be telling them about Jesus..probably for the very first time! The Joshua Project website (linked above) says that there is “sufficient” evangelical movement in Sierra Leone, but from what we’ve heard and researched, some of the people on this island are buried so deep in the landscape of this island that they are scared of pretty much anything and everything…they have very little outside contact with anyone but local people. The men in our group will be trying to find the “Man of Peace” among the village…if the Man of Peace is saved, he has much influence thought the village to share the Gospel with others. There are no known Bibles or auto Bibles translated into their language. The West African cultures are known to tell stories from generation to generation, so they are very good at remembering stories and sharing them to others…just another reason to be so prepared with Bible stories to share with them. We will be on the island for 2-3 days (May 24-26ish) and then we will head back to the mainland of Sierra Leone to the village of Kalo where the Krim people live. They also are very unreached. We will be staying in a hotel ($14/night) while we are there and will be sharing about Jesus while we are there. We will be there for another 2-3 days (May 27-30). The morning of the 30th, we will most likely start driving back up to Freetown and we will fly out at 11:30 p.m. on May 30 and will get back to Kansas City around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 31.
4) A few things about Sierra Leone in general…Sierra Leone remains a land of suffering after a war that lasted from 1991-2002. The people are still mired in desperate poverty, most surviving on less than a dollar a day. It has been ranked as the world’s poorest country for most of the last 10 years. With the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world and widespread disease (malaria, HIV, others), life expectancy is age 47 and not rising. One of its natural resources is diamonds…a place known for blood diamonds (conflict diamonds). Here are several links that have great information and statistics about Sierra Leone: Wikipedia article, Operation World article that helps you know how to specifically pray for Sierra Leone, and the Joshua Project that gives great statistics about the work being done in these areas.
Here are some pictures of the places we are going to go (the missionaries took a trip there last month to plan for our trip and they took pictures while they were there)…