Off to Sierra Leone

sierraleone.jpg This afternoon I leave for two and a half weeks in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

I’m so excited to go and so not excited to leave.  Leaving Leslie and the kids behind is always by far the most difficult part of short-term ministry opportunities overseas.

What I’m doing:

My friend Rick Cornish and I will be traveling first to Freetown (the capital city), where we will be for 5-6 days, and then to one or two other towns/villages further inland for the remainder of our time.  Evangelical Christianity is growing in Sierra Leone, but church leaders have little or no access to biblical, theological or pastoral training, so Rick and I will spend our days with church leaders, helping equip them for effective, Christ-centered, biblically rooted ministry.  Rick will be teaching basic theology in the mornings and I will be teaching through sections of 1-2 Timothy and Titus, focusing on preaching and the role and character of pastors in the local church.

What I’ll be reading:

One of the things I most love about overseas ministry opportunities is that the pace is always slower.  People outside the West in particular tend to be much less busy in the mornings and evenings.  My first priority, of course, will be fellowship with the locals any time I have opportunity, but whenever I have free hours I’ll likely be reading and writing.  I’ll take extra, unhurried time to immerse myself in Scripture, and also to read from two other books: One I haven’t read yet, and one I’ve read before but have been longing to read again.  The former is Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, by N.T. Wright, and the latter is Communion with the Triune God, by John Owen.

Ways you can pray:

So many short-term ministry opportunities that I’ve been a part of seem like the cost is just not worth the actual fruit that can come of the trip in such a short time.  But I’m hopeful that this one may be very different.  By providing training for church leaders I am very hopeful that the few pebbles we can drop in 2 1/2 weeks may ripple a very long way and will impact believers in Sierra Leone exponentially.  So, please pray that Rick’s and my ministry will be fruitful and effective in that way.

Please also pray that we would be sensitive and perceptive in terms of what the real need for training is.  We won’t know our audiences well until we meet them, and we both want to make sure that we’re teaching into the most critical areas of weakness and need.  But this will take some wisdom and insight, so please ask the Lord for that for us.

Obviously, pray for our safety.  Sierra Leone is the third-lowest ranked country (out of 182) on the Human Development Index, which means that the poverty is beyond imaginable for most of us.  That means people are desperate.  So, please pray for safety from muggers and others who would want to take advantage of us.  Please also pray for safe travel and for our health.  The woman who gave me my (seven) vaccination shots for this trip called Sierra Leone “the Superbowl of diseases.”

Finally, please pray for my family while I am away.  Obviously, at this point Ruthie won’t notice me being gone, but it will be hard on Leslie and Owen.  I gave Owen a globe as a gift a few days ago and he ‘knows’ that we live in Minnesota (the “green one” on the globe) and that Daddy is going to Africa (the “yellow one” on the globe), but he doesn’t understand that I’ll be away for 18 days.  Pray for them spiritually and emotionally.  I’m thankful to God that he’s provided for so many people who want to love and serve my family, as well as for Leslie’s parents only being 15 minutes away.  What a great comfort.

Thank you to everyone who is behind this trip prayerfully and financially! I’m looking forward to showing photos and telling God-stories when I return.



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