The EPC World Outreach missions agency has launched an initiative called Engage 2025. The idea is that each of the EPC presbyteries engage in an unreached Muslim people group – establishing the church and a strong Christian influence in each of the areas by the year 2025. The Presbytery of the Alleghenies has begun already, focusing on adopting two villages in the northern region of Sierra Leone – Fintonia and Rokassa.
Sierra Leone is located on the west coast of Africa – south of Guinea and west of Liberia
SL is slightly larger than South Carolina in territory and has a population of approximately 4.7 million people, most of whom are children and youth, as the average life expectancy is only 35 years
Was a British colony for many years and a location where freed slaves were sent from all over the world (hence the name of the capital is Freetown). So there remains a strong British influence in the culture.
For a variety of reasons, but primarily from the severe civil unrest of the 1990’s, SL suffers from a very poor economy, a declining infrastructure, and deteriorating health conditions – especially in the rural areas. All of this, combined with the fact that there are between 15 and 20 different ethnic groups, greatly hinders any sense of collective and national identity.
Religious beliefs vary as well, with only 10% of the population identifying themselves as Christian – and this primarily in and around Freetown. The rest of the population claim to be Muslim or to follow a variety of other animistic beliefs (religious belief that natural phenomena, including animals, plants, and often inanimate objects, possess a spiritual essence). Animism is especially prevalent the further north you go. Yet the religious beliefs tend to be flexible, accommodating, and often mixed, even among Christians. For example, many Christians still believe in witchcraft. And many Christians marry Muslims without any qualms.
Finally, quality education is at a premium and is virtually unattainable in many of the rural areas. Yet the people are hungry for education and training. Sounds rather bleak, doesn’t it?
Well, God seems to be using all of this chaos and despair to open doors. Participating collectively with our denomination thru Engage 2025 and cooperating with several mission agencies already in SL, the collective churches in our presbytery will help establish a strong Christian presence in these two unreached villages. There will be a wide variety of ministry opportunities developing over the next several years, but the initial focus is on launching of Christian schools. A “boots-on-the-ground” organization – EduNations – that focuses on building and resourcing Christian schools, has found that the people in Sierra Leone understand that Christian schools are far better than the failing government schools and welcome them with open arms – regardless of their belief system or orientation. This provides an “open door” for real Gospel presentation and discipleship training.
So far, the school buildings are built, two EPC Mission Evangelists have been commissioned and assigned to each village, teachers are being hired, and children are beginning to be taught – God is at work! But there are many needs and much more to do. Won’t you consider join with other churches in our presbytery to support this work?