Like many African countries, Sierra Leone remained relatively poor after it gained independence from the British in 1961. It was devastated by a civil war that raged from 1991-2002. In 2013 it was given the dubious honor as the “most corrupt nation on earth”, with 84% of the population admitting to paying bribes. And just as the people were getting back on their feet, they were hit by the Ebola epidemic! Let’s be honest, Sierra Leone is a country that deserves a break!
The first week of your ministry will include loving on children who have been orphaned as a result of the Ebola crisis. There were a lot of orphans in this war-torn country before the outbreak, but that number has skyrocketed since! You’ll have lots of opportunities to love on the kids and be the tangible hands and feet of Christ to them. Because of this experience, you’ll walk away from the summer with a new and deeper understanding about the Father heart of God and His love for orphans.
Also during that week you and your teammates will be working in some of the slums that dot the waterfront in the capital, Freetown. These destitute communities have no running water, roads, or electricity, and consist of shacks built from discarded metal, sticks, rubbish, and mud – and are home to some of the most destitute families in the world. You’ll be visiting families, playing with children, and conducting VBS-style programs. You and your team will then head out into the “bush” (what anywhere outside the city is considered), for the second half of your ministry. Working hand-in-hand with Sierra Leonean believers, you’ll be doing ministry presentations pretty much anywhere, including prisons and youth detention centers!Close
There is never a dull moment in Sierra Leone. The culture and third world chaotic environment will make your trip feel like a non-stop adventure! You will quickly learn the meaning of a simple little phrase used in many African Countries, but even more loved by the Sierra Leoneans: “This is Africa.”
Try to say it with your best West African accent and then imagine it being followed up with a hearty laugh when . . .
A taxi driver is cramming you and 23 of your closest teammates into a mini bus that should seat 10.
A vendor at the local street market - as your team is weaving their way through the biggest crowd you have ever seen or could ever imagine - stops you and tries to sell you something you don’t need and would never use, at a cost ten times what they would charge one of the locals.
A Youth for Christ worker, responds to the question of “how long do you think it might take for our bus to get through the traffic and return to the hotel, because several of our students really need to use the toilet?”
While embracing and learning from the chaos, we will be hands-on in our ministry and visit some of the poorest communities in the world. As we meet and talk with the people, you will be amazed to find out how kind, friendly, and loving they are in the midst of their circumstances!
At the end of a day of ministry in Freetown, you will likely be physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted – and ready to drop into bed. But you will be excited to get up the next day and do it all again - because it was fun and exhilarating to actually live out the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40 . . . “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”Close
Each day we will have the privilege of reading scripture and then talking about it with a small group. In addition to reading and memorizing scripture, we will see it lived out in a real and dynamic way through the lives of our ministry partners who work with Youth For Christ. Our faith will come alive in ways that we never dreamed of as we walk each day and serve people in the midst of poverty that most people you know never see. The predominant faith in Sierra Leone is Islam, and you will learn and grow in your ability to navigate through conversations about Jesus with others who have a completely different view of the world. The best way to get an idea of how God might work in your life is to hear from students who have bravely gone before you . . .
I am now more comfortable to talk about my faith with others and I now know the essential points that I should make when I am sharing the Gospel. As I had many opportunities to present the “good news” to others I was reminded of why I am a Christian myself, and how my Christianity is different than other religions. I have a better grasp of my own faith and a deeper understanding of God’s Word. I also discovered the importance of memorizing scripture. (Makayla)
In a place like the slums of Sierra Leone, there is nothing you can do to fix the incredible poverty. It was sad and hard for me to realize that there is no physical solution to a problem of that magnitude. When I realized that, I learned in a new way that our only hope is in Jesus Christ. I know that God cares about the poverty, but that God’s heart is ultimately for the lost people who do not know Him. I learned that the condition of our soul is of much greater importance than our physical well-being. (Bethany)
The daily quiet times were absolutely amazing for me! At home, I have told myself I am “too busy” to spend time reading God’s Word – except at youth group or church. Having time each day to read and reflect on the scriptures changed my perspective of Bible reading. In the beginning of the trip, I would just read the passages for the day and be done, but eventually I began reflecting on and applying the scriptures to my own life. Then the time I spent reading the Bible became fun and I looked forward to them, which was a new experience for me! (Grace)
We visited various slums in Freetown and went shack to shack to share God’s Word, talk about Jesus, and pray with people. I would call it “door to door” evangelism, except that the homes in the slums did not have doors. At first, doing this type of ministry was very difficult for me because I did not know what to say. As I learned more about how to talk with people about Jesus, and had a few conversations with people where I actually talked about Him – I was more confident and really enjoyed those times of ministry! (Dawson)
I can honestly say that this has been the hardest and most stretching summer of my life. I learned a whole new level of trust and I finally started realizing and embracing who I am in Christ! My new view on Jesus has really helped me, and my perspective on forgiveness has changed - which is something I really needed to understand in my life. Going to Sierra Leone taught me a lot about being joyful and thankful. I realized that I do not thank God enough for what He has given me. I hope that other students from my church and area will go on a Royal Servants team sometime in the future – I am a completely different and new person, and my perspective has changed in so many amazing ways. (Jenise)Close