“Let All The World…
…in every corner sing” – and they certainly did in this particular corner. For four hours on a hot May Sunday in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, I joined with the members of the congregation to celebrate the life of Rev Victor Nabieu. Victor was the Methodist Minister in Kailahun when I first visited Sierra Leone in 2006, and on my return in 2008 I found him a very ill man. He succumbed to his illness in March and after the traditional forty days of mourning; I was privileged to attend his Memorial Service.
I was back in Kailahun to try to make some progress in the Skills Training Centre we helped start building in 2006. The first time I went, I was part of a team of sixteen from the North Lancashire District of the Methodist Church, but this time I went on my own. With my experience working in Training Centres in this country it was becoming hard to get away from the feeling that God was telling me to use my skills, such as they are, in Sierra Leone.
After a long day’s travelling from the UK; I landed in Freetown, the capital, and was taken to a Roman Catholic Hostel for the night. Being male, travelling on my own, staying in a Roman Catholic establishment, I was addressed as ‘Father’, I was too tired to start explaining!! The following day was hectic, meeting people, changing money, buying supplies, organising transport, purchasing a new tyre for the church vehicle and eventually setting off for Kailahun – three hundred miles on very poor roads!
During the next two weeks I helped complete the building and started organising equipment, some of which we had sent out via a container from this country. The local church had gone some way to establishing a Management Committee and after a number of meetings with them and the local government Director of Education we started to arrange interviews for staff and potential students. We were looking for a Manager for the centre plus a Tutor to teach tailoring, one to teach carpentry and one to teach literacy. After many a hot day’s interviewing we eventually appointed a tailoring tutor, Victoria Gallia and a carpentry tutor, Julius Banya and Prince Kafala, the Methodist School Headmaster, to organise the literacy teaching – but no manager. I was very concerned that we had not seen anyone with the potential to run the centre. We continued to interview for students and after yet more hot days we had a manageable number of students to commence training. I was still concerned about not having a manager when the President of the Methodist Church in Sierra Leone contacted me to say he might have a solution. Someone in Freetown, who is a teacher of many years standing, is wanting to return to Kailahun, her home town, to look after her ageing father. I returned to Freetown to meet Sarah Mowio and knew at once that she was the right person for the job – why do we doubt that God will provide? By the way I returned to Freetown in an ambulance! Not that I was ill, but it was the only vehicle available. Having been mistaken for a priest on my way out, I was now being mistaken for a doctor on my return journey!
The time I spent in Sierra Leone was such a rewarding experience in many ways. To work with people who have so little but give so much is very humbling. Please remember the people who will work and learn in the skills training centre and thank you all for your support both financially and prayerfully.