Sierra Leone today
In the centre of Freetown in the middle of the rainy season, a group of more than 40 pastors and evangelists from different tribes and churches gathered for a Bible conference organised by Truth Mission and UFM – the first reformed gathering in Sierra Leone as far as anyone could remember.
Each morning of the three-day event opened with a sermon on ‘The primacy of the cross’, followed by a study on how to prepare an expository sermon.
Other topics included: What is an Evangelical?; The sufficiency of Scripture; The importance of doctrine; Current spiritual trends; and The role of women in the church. The last sparked a discussion – the Bible’s teaching on this subject often runs counter to current Christian practice and the social climate of ‘gender equality’.
At least 40% of the participants were from North, East and South Provinces, and the rest from Freetown. One pastor/evangelist from the east remarked, ‘We often preach on John 3:16, but how often on the cross?’
Christian fellowship was enjoyed and it was a delight to see two men from the same village, who fought on opposite sides in the civil war, enjoying each other’s company. By the grace of God they are now both believers, one an evangelist/church planter and the other a church elder.
According to UN statistics, Sierra Leone remains the poorest country in the world, following a cruel civil war notorious for the forced amputation of limbs. Redevelopment has been slow.
False teaching and preaching are seriously weakening the church. However the greatest challenge is the rapid growth of Islam. Christianity is a minority religion with 10% of the population while 69% are Muslims.
The election of a Muslim president together with the fact that 80% of the UN peacekeeping force came from Muslim countries has given a big impetus to Islam. This is seen in the building and extension of mosques and Muslim schools.
The Ministry of Education is introducing a new Arabic and Islamic syllabus for use in all primary and secondary schools. This syllabus was developed with funds from the Islamic Development bank. There are increasing numbers of scholarships available to help students study in Saudi Arabia, and Hezbollah is developing its presence in the country.
Pray for Sierra Leone!