A Moravian Secondary School
Our Moravian Secondary School provides the only opportunity for the youth of Ngiehun to continue their education past sixth grade. Each year it has grown, now educating 240 students. The majority of them are Muslim, yet they begin every day by reciting New Testament scripture, and part of the curriculum is a class on theology. Obviously the school is very much a part of our mission in Sierra Leone.
An important next step is to provide solar power. The mission committee at Little Church is beginning to ask for donations toward the equipment, shipping and installation of the needed panels and batteries, thereby dramatically increasing the school’s potential. The first thing this electrical power would bring about is the creation of a computer lab.
With solar, the school could also begin offering night study hours for students, since they have very little light in their homes after dark. And new learning opportunities would be limitless for adults in the village, especially those who were denied an education during the nine years of civil war.
Traveling for the dedication
Late last year, we traveled to Ngiehun to participate in the dedication of Moravian Secondary School. I traveled with Steve and Claire Wilson, and Jeff Fulp—all from Little Church on the Lane, where Mohamed and Safie had been longtime members, and all still deeply involved in this new Mission Area of the Unity.
Dedication day began with Safie’s surprise for us, two beautiful dresses and two matching shirts, assuring that we would fit the occasion. Hundreds showed up for the celebratory program that lasted three and a half hours. All the village schoolchildren, elementary and secondary, were there; they marched together to the school grounds and opened this momentous occasion with the singing of their national anthem.
Numerous local and district officials spoke, and the church choir sang, including a “welcome song” they had written especially for those of us from the U.S. I brought greetings from the U.S. and Steve led the dedication reading, the school principal and board chair offered words of appreciation, and scripture and prayer were included. The last part of the program was the ceremonial act of cutting the ribbons by the village chiefs.
While that was supposed to be the conclusion, the Imams from the mosque suddenly stepped forward. They, too, wanted to speak, expressing their gratitude for Mohamed and Safie’s return to Ngiehun, and commending them for the wonderful spirit they had created between the Christians and Muslims in the village. Then the Imams asked that the two ‘beautiful princesses’ come forward. I wondered who they were talking about, until Safie motioned to Claire and me. Goodness, we were the princesses, and they had come with gifts for us!
When the dedication ended, about 2:00, lunch was brought from the church to the schoolyard, and all were invited to partake. Safie’s sister and other helpers had cooked enough rice and sauce to feed the masses. The whole celebration turned out to be about the biggest event that’s ever happened in that village.
Seeing more of Ngiehun
While in Ngiehun, we attended a school soccer game, one that was quite special because for the first time our players had real uniforms to wear. Jeff had arranged for the shirts to be made with the Moravian seal on the front, and brought them with him.
Sunday of course was for Sunday School and worship, during which Steve baptized nine new members. I helped with a children’s message, revolving around a Christmas play enacted by the youth.
And would you believe it . . . the school dedication celebration continued into Sunday as well, with lunch being fed to everyone after worship. This provided another cherished opportunity to mingle and fellowship with our African brothers and sisters.
A spreading mission
The mission is spreading in Sierra Leone. Another congregation has formed and a third has been requested. So one day the six of us rode in the church’s car (maybe the only one in Ngiehun) to see the second church, about 45 minutes away in Mofindor.
When the Braimas visit just about anywhere, gifts are typically involved, so we took some of the children’s Bibles that I had sent to them many months before. The Moravians in Mofindor were thrilled to meet American Moravians, and when we were ready to depart, they easily outdid us with their array of gifts. First there was the kind of food you grow—pineapples and plantains and cassava root and rice. Then they handed Safie a live chicken to take back and cook for our dinner.
I was trying to picture it riding in the car with us, when they presented their final and most extravagant gift, a live goat. I smiled in gratitude, but was frantically wondering WHO is going to hold this goat for the next 45 minutes. Their solution was to tie the animal to the luggage rack on top of the car! Thankfully, all animals and people arrived back at the mission house just fine.
Before leaving for the airport, I spoke with two teenage boys I had befriended. They said to me, “Please do not forget us.” In the three times I’ve been to the village, forgetting my friends there does not happen, because I carry those experiences in my heart. What a joy it is to share life with the people of Ngiehun. Supporting this mission is certainly a privilege, and absolutely a blessing.
Donna Hurt is Director of Christian Education at Home Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.