In 2006 Safiatu and Mohamed Braima answered God’s call to return to their native village in Ngiehun, Sierra Leone, West Africa. Their mission, after living and working in the United States for many years, was to spread the good news of Jesus’ love. It would have been easy for Mohamed and Safie (as she is affectionately called by most) to say no, because Sierra Leone is a predominantly Muslim country. On their return, they built a library, a mission house, a church, a secondary school, a home and more in that village. Sadly, Mohamed was called home to be in the more immediate presence of our Lord and Savior in 2018. As the sun rises over the trees across from the mission house, you become filled with hope that God is making a difference in this place.
Today, Safie’s leadership in the Moravian church is well respected and the reputation of this ministry is growing daily. The Moravian Junior and Senior Secondary School in Ngiehun, that started in 2009 with less than 200 students, currently has 969 students enrolled. The school is currently ranked second with respect to testing scores in the district and there are currently four senior high graduates in college. Following on this success, the Kailahun church started a Moravian Junior Secondary in September 2022 and plan to add a Senior Secondary this coming Fall (2023). Currently there are 75 Junior Secondary students.
As we traveled from village to village and congregation to congregation everyone looked up to Safie with genuine admiration and respect. The Moravian churches in Ngiehun and Kailahun average 75 worshipers on Sundays; Yandohan and Mbaoma average about 50, and Morfindor, the smallest congregation, averages 35. These congregations are very active and are energized in worshiping our Lord and Savior. All the congregations have taken an amazing step to match the Muslims call to worship, every morning at 6:00 a.m. (except Sunday) they gather and read the Daily Text and associated scriptures. This is done by candles and flashlights because there is no electricity. On average there are about 20 in attendance. We had an opportunity to be part of this reading every day during our visit.
This is an amazing ministry, that can be seen in the students. When a visitor enters their classroom, students immediately stand and recite “Praise be to Jesus Christ now and for evermore, Amen”. These students will provide a brighter future for Sierra Leone with every passing day.
Thanks for all the prayers and support during our trip. With respect to needs, the Secondary School in Ngiehun need more desks to accommodate the increasing number of students and machinery to cut brush in the 20 acres of palm trees that they planted. The only water reservoir in the village needs to be repaired. Contributions can be made to Sierra Leone Ministry and send to Little Church on the Lane, in Charlotte.
As Mohammed was known for saying, “God is good all the time!”
—Evon Crooks is a member of New Philadelphia Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.
For more than three years during the Covid pandemic, travel to our mission in Sierra Leone, West Africa didn’t happen. But finally that changed when several months ago, I returned for my ninth visit to share life with many friends there.
Most in the region live without power or running water in their tiny homes. Why would I want to do this over and over? Because of the people. Two Southern Province Moravians, Helen Gulledge and Evon Crooks, accompanied me on this visit.
Yes, I was grateful to visit the five churches and attend a few classes at our secondary school, but reconnecting with the people brought me the most joy, especially a man named Vondi. He and I met on my first trip to Sierra Leone in 2010. Homeless, he had recently wandered into the village where Mohamed and Safie Braima had settled. They found a room for Vondi to live in and offered him a “job” of cleaning the church building that had been built just a few years before.
During that visit 13 years ago, I befriended this very quiet and sweet man. Vondi had this amazing talent of creating cute little chickens from plastic trash bags and other odds and ends. He gave me two to take home. I had someone take a picture of the two of us, and later sent a copy to him via the Braimas when they returned to their village from a family visit in North Carolina. But Vondi was a wanderer, and I never saw him again on any of my other trips…until this one.
It was special how we recognized each other immediately, so happy to finally meet again. I told Vondi that I still had his chickens and thought of him every time I laid eyes on them. He said he wanted to make two more for me, which he did one day as I watched with little understanding of how he transformed trash into something so cute. We enjoyed talking every day, and just before the three of us travelers departed for the airport, Vondi said he wanted to show me something. I could not believe my eyes when he reached in an old cloth sack and pulled out the picture I had sent him …. 13 years ago!!!
Even though this dear man has no real place to call home and wanders from village to village, he found a way to save that picture of us together. Yes, it’s the people of Sierra Leone that fill my heart with the desire to return there every chance I get
—Donna Hurt is a member of Home Moravian Church, Winston-Salem, N.C. She frequently shares stories of her travels around the Moravian world.