Sierra Leone, a country of six million people in Western Africa, has a special significance in the history of the transatlantic slave trade.
The country’s modern history has been overshadowed by a brutal civil war ending in 2002. From 2014 to 2016 Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency to tackle the deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus which killed more than 11,000 people in that region.
Sierra Leone’s population growth is somewhat tempered by high infant, child, and maternal mortality rates that are among the highest in the world, (1 in 5 newborns survive) and are a result of abject poverty, a lack of portable water and sanitation, poor nutrition, and limited access to quality health care.
Sierra Leone’s large youth population -about 60% under age 25- continue to struggle with high levels of unemployment, a contributing factor in the 1991-2002 civil war, and remains a threat to stability today. It’s estimated 60% youth unemployment rate is attributed to high levels of illiteracy and unskilled labor. Recent estimates indicate only 40% of school age children attend school. According to the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States Government in 2012 Sierra Leone ranked 141st in the world in literacy.
New Creation Community Church has been blessed to be in partnership with Bishop Bangura United Methodist Church over the last decade. NCCC has had members travel to Sierra Leone over that same time period to establish relationships with our sister church. Being in relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ is the most important part of our covenant relationship.
In our travels to Sierra Leone, New Creation discovered some very basic human needs we’ve attempted to be of assistance to with our sister church. We have provided wells for clean drinking water, solar powered sanitation facilities for our sister church and for a primary school that is located near our sister church.
In February 2017 we had some of our members travel to our sister church carrying reader eyeglasses for the community that our sister church is located in.
We were accompanied by an eye technician from Sierra Leone who performed eye examinations and proper fitting of the glasses. The eye technician was also able to detect those persons with cataracts with the hope of follow up corrective surgery.
The joy on the faces of people, who prior to their eyeglass fitting were struggling to see and or read, was a blessing to all those who were present.
One of NCCC’s goals moving forward in this relationship is to assist our sister church in exploring ways together for them to become self sufficient in ways that would allow them to become a vibrant and impactful force of love in their community that glorifies God.
Although the six million persons who struggle on a daily basis with having the basics of life, they and we recognize we have one thing that unites us all. That one thing is the love of God through Christ. Sierra Leoneans are a very resilient people and they have so much to teach us about being in a relationship with God, when that is all you have, and not dependent on the excesses that cause us to lose focus on our most important relationship, God, the giver of every good and perfect gift.
Brian and JoMarie Warner were recently in Sierra Leone. Watch for new pictures and info on their trip in the coming weeks.
The following four pictures are from Brian and JoMarie’s recent trip to Sierra Leone.