WAR STORIES: SIERRA LEONE

We’ve been here only two full days, but my heart has been deeply touched by the conversations with those who have survived much hardship and difficulty in this ravaged nation.

We lived here from 1990-1992 before the US Embassy advised all international workers to leave because of the terrible civil war that was spilling over from Liberia. As I understand it, the pinnacle of the war was in 1998-1999 when the rebel forces began to amputate people’s limbs and set the city of Freetown on fire. Blood curling screams could be heard throughout the city along with the sounds of gunfire and explosions.

Julius Laggah was a 19 year old boy when he was a student at our Bible school in Freetown. He was also a disciple of ours on the evangelism team I led on the streets of Freetown 3 times a week.

A few years later during the height of the war he visited the United States and some believers pleaded with him to not return to Freetown. He was now married with a young family to care for and life would be far easier for them living in America than their war ravaged country. But Julius prayed and knew that the Lord’s will was for him to return to the small church he had begun to pastor.

When electricity was scarce and the fighting continued, and people were running scared in the city, God gave him a vision to train church planters to expand the influence of the gospel into other districts of Sierra Leone. They met at night and studied by candlelight as Julius poured his heart into the trainees. He told me that sometimes they would continue until 5 AM. They paid a price and the work soon expanded. Now there are 40 churches throughout the nation that are preaching the Word of God and producing more workers for the harvest in this war ravaged and poverty stricken nation.

After hearing his story I went to bed with a heart overflowing with gratitude for such faithful disciples as Julius Laggah. He told me that if it wasn’t for those early foundations that were established in him through our Bible school and discipleship he would not be where he is today. He drove me through the city and showed me all the places we use to hold evangelistic campaigns and open air preach. He told stories that I had forgotten or never knew. They warmed my heart and reminded me again of the importance of the ‘Jesus and the 12’  hands-on way of discipleship. We never realized the impact our school and ministry made on him.

Then back at the hotel I spoke to one of the hotel attendants, Edward by name. He looked to be about 20 years of age. His parents were killed in the war when he was only four. There was a loneliness and sadness in him combined with a driving ambition to succeed and make life better for himself and his younger brother. My heart went out to him. When you meet such hard working people like that, you want to give him the shirt off your back. He cleans our room every day so we are going to bless him real good and minister to him spiritually as the Lord leads. But once more, his story of survival touched me deeply and I wondered how many more people share such stories of hardship and loss, not only in this nation, but globally in places where there is great suffering.

We’ll be on the radio tonight speaking to the nation. These stories have moved my heart with compassion to do so. Please agree with us again for utterance to speak and to be found in Him who moves.

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