Last fall the wonderful big step forward was adding solar power to the Moravian Secondary School in the village of Ngiehun. We were so grateful and excited when members of Little Church on the Lane in Charlotte, N.C. arrived to install all the equipment and batteries that had been shipped ahead of time. Now we are able to incorporate a computer lab in our curriculum. And since homes in the village do not have electricity, we can turn on classroom lights for students to gather at the school and study during the evening hours. In the future, we even hope to begin some night classes for adults.
This fall the exciting vision is a radio station, to be located on the same property as our newest church in the nearby village of Mbaoma. We have already built the tower, with the building for the radio transmitter coming next. The plan is to provide Christian programming in English that would likely cover a 60-mile radius. Pastor Mohamed Braima would offer regularly scheduled Bible teaching, as well as some call-in ‘question and answer’ type programs. Also included would be gospel music, international news and government information. This vision opens all kinds of new doors toward expanding the reach of the gospel in Sierra Leone, where most families are Muslim.
There is a good possibility that early next year another congregation will officially be recognized as a Moravian Church, the fourth one since this West African Mission Area was begun in 2006. The people who are asking to become Moravians are currently meeting on Sundays in a school building in the town of Kailahun, seven miles from the founding church and school. There is strong potential for this congregation, because its town is so much larger than the villages where the other three Moravian churches are located. Land has already been given for the construction of a place to worship, and there is even a Christian pastor in Kailahun willing to lead this flock. Mohamed would need to teach this man about the ways of Moravians, and be present on occasional Sunday mornings to offer communion or baptism, just as he does for the other three congregations.
Not long ago we welcomed two visitors to Ngiehun, Donna Hurt (Home Church in Winston-Salem) and Pete Hiltz (Little Church on the Lane in Charlotte). Fixing things, especially cars, is one of Pete’s specialties, and it would almost seem that God sent Pete to us with a plan. As we met our two friends at the airport in Freetown and the next morning started the 8-9 hour journey across country to our village, little did we know that our car would break down three times! On each occasion (two of them nowhere near any possible help), Pete was able to fix the problem. We were so grateful that all three mishaps occurred during the daytime, that it was not raining even though our rainy season had begun, and that Pete was with us.
One of the first things that need to happen when outsiders arrive in the village is for them to visit and pay respects to Section Chief Sumorie. After our guests did this (and took a picture at the chief’s request), Pete got busy. Having shipped numerous vehicle parts to the village ahead of time, our car expert spent 3-4 days providing overdue maintenance on our 2003 Tundra truck and 1996 Land Cruiser. Throughout, Safie Braima, Mohamed’s wife, made sure that our two special friends were cared for and well fed, thanks to the ladies who constantly prepare food and keep the pots stirred over the fires in the mission house backyard.
Donna, who has been to Ngiehun many times now, always enjoys daily walks around the village to see the people. Some of the teens from our church accompany her as she waves and smiles in all directions, and interacts with the young children who usually run right up to her. Mostly Donna speaks to everyone in English, but she also uses Mende words whenever possible, especially our familiar greeting of ‘kaiyegoma’ — thanks be to God — and adults delight in the fact that she is attempting their language.
During Sunday worship, Pete and Donna addressed the congregation with words of appreciation and encouragement. We also celebrated twenty baptisms that day, including a young man Donna now knows well. Augustine was born into a Muslim family, but had not participated in that faith tradition. During her visit to Ngiehun last year, he attended worship at our church for the first time. Donna invited Augustine to return often and let the Moravians teach him about Christianity. Over the next 16 months, she sent him a Bible and encouraging messages when possible. This young man became involved in our church, gave his heart to Jesus, and asked to be baptized, but he hoped that might happen when Donna could be present and participate. It did, and was truly a blessing for all of us.
And so we move forward, not really knowing what opportunities God will offer next or whose lives they might touch … but trying to be ready to serve Him, and always believing that GOD IS GOOD, ALL THE TIME.
Mohamed and Safiatu Braima lead our church’s work in the Mission Area of Sierra Leone