Four remarkable people left an indelible impression on us during our first visit to Sierra Leone:

In January 2013, Andrew met us at the airport upon landing, went everywhere with us, stayed at the house with us to attend to our every need. And there were many! We were somewhat unprepared for the reality of daily living in the capital city of Freetown. Electricity was unreliable, water was hard to come by, making a meal was challenging to say the least. Andrew took care of everything, “no problem”! We traveled across the entire span of Sierra Leone with Andrew – visiting rural villages in the Western Peninsula, visiting hospitals in Makeni, visiting his home village of Tombudu in the Kono District. We fished with local fisherman, acted as an ambulance after a van vs. pedestrian accident, celebrated David’s 60th birthday on the rooftop overlooking all of Freetown. And we prayed. We prayed over the people we were meeting, we prayed asking God, “what does He want for us to see, to know?” We prayed before leaving and prayed upon our return. We prayed over the neighborhood we stayed in, Juba Hill. And God opened our eyes to the purpose of our being there. He desired that these remarkable people would know Him. He desired that His beautiful story of redemption would become theirs.

After a visit to a certain village called Ngegbana, we decided to return and have a gospel outreach. The people had been genuinely interested in hearing more of the Bible so, a few days later we returned. The outreach was well attended, with the nearby farmers pausing their work to come and hear God’s Word. Afterwards, with a burdened heart for these mostly illiterate people, we asked Andrew if he would come each week and simply read the Bible to them, verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter. He agreed. This small fellowship of people have become Sierra Leone’s very first Calvary Chapel! There are now 200-250 in attendance each week across the creek in Monkey Bush.

One day, towards the end of our first visit in Jan 2013, I was playing with some children in the lane just outside our gate. A woman approached me from the other side of the lane, boldly asking, “Are you the Christians?!? I want a Bible!!!”  I assured her we were, and that we had a Bible for her. Esther showed me a plastic shopping bag, inside which she kept her tattered Bible. She had to keep it in there because the binding was tearing and the bag kept the pages of her Bible in order. David later told me she had come once before, while I was napping. He had asked her to return when I was up. And so she did! I was really impressed by her strong faith and although we had limited time remaining, I wanted to strike up a friendship with her. She offered to show me where she was living so I followed her through the Juba Hill neighborhood, at times exclaiming, “I no can fit!” as she wound her way through partially constructed or bombed out buildings. When we looked over Freetown and the Atlantic coastline from her 2-room dwelling, she shared that she had been praying for years that God would raise up her sons to live for Him, and that He would send someone to start a Bible study. She asked if we would start a Bible study in Juba Hill. Later, when Francis came looking for me, I asked Francis if he would be willing to come each week and read the Word of God to whoever would come. He agreed he would and the fellowship at Juba Hill began shortly after we left for America.

We later learned that the 12-year old boy in the video is Esther’s nephew. God is hearing Esther’s prayers for her family, her community, her village of birth. In the past 6-7 years she has rejoiced in the salvation of her elderly mother, her sisters, and many others. Esther’s son is the pastor at Calvary Chapel Juba Hill and also the Director of the Calvary Chapel Bible Institute/ Sierra Leone. From the first graduating class of Aug 2019, he is sending a graduate back home to teach among the people of the village of his mother’s birth.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:9