Oct 28, 2018
Reformation Sunday began in central Bo, Sierra Leone at the clock tower. Luther Seminary, St. Paul graduates were representing. Grateful that we could be there with Bishop Jensen, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Liberia; Rev. Dr. Elieshi Mungare, LWF Africa Secretary; and Rev. Kris Totzke, Bishop’s Associate, NT-NL Synod, ELCA. We gathered with the festive group(2 marching bands) and processed 45 minutes (about 1.5 miles) to the church site. It was a public witness and presence of our church in Bo.
Arriving at the church we sang and prayed as the ribbons were cut from the door and the locks opened. The renovated Reformation Lutheran, Bo was ready to receive us. We sang and prayed and danced our way through a warm and sweaty 3 hour worship and celebration. I was honored to be asked to preach. The theme of the weekend was “God has done great things for us!” based on Psalm 126. I built my message from Bishop Momoh’s report to the church on Friday when he characterized the history of the ELCSL as being “Sweet and Bittersweet.”
Reiterating the reformation themes of Law and Gospel I emphasized the importance of honesty and truth telling, particularly for a church that has struggled so greatly. The “bittersweet.” Yet remembering that God is the subject of the sentence. God has done, provides, sustains, invites, makes righteous. And God does so that we may care for our neighbor. That is the “sweet” part of what the ELCSL has done proclaiming Jesus and serving in the midst of challenges.
It was a sweet day in “Sweet Bo.” Our worship concluded we ate a lunch and then traveled back to Freetown. The Bo-Kalema highway is a good road but yet it is 240 kilometers to cross. I was grateful to see how Bishop Momoh made a point to have this celebration not in Freetown but to honor the communities across the church. Despite the challenges of travel the time allowed us a good look at the beauty and variety of this land.
Arriving back in Freetown in the dark we saw the city lit up welcoming us home. We will spend a day here tomorrow in meetings with ELCSL and ELCA staff, visiting sites, and spending time prepping for the flight home on Tuesday. It has been a blessed time of community building and relationship development. God has indeed done great things for us. It has been a great blessing to be here in the midst of the people, particularly the young people, of this partner church. #elcsl30th #ntnl #LutherSem #GlobalChurch #InMissionTogether
Oct 29, 2018
Our last full day in Freetown was one of morning meetings and an afternoon of site seeing. We would have left to return on Monday but flights to Europe (which is the general way you get to the states from Sierra Leone) don’t happen on Monday here.
I was able to have some one on one time with Bishop Momoh to talk about our priorities for the partnership. He and I agree the greatest resource of this church, like NT-NL, are our people and leaders. Particularly our young people. This will be a key point of emphasis going forward. We also discussed education for pastors and the need for continual theological training, another theme we share.
The Jubilee Center, a major construction project in Freetown to which many in NT-NL gave generously was also a topic of conversation. I will write another post/blog when I return about our visit there which included meeting the pastor and leaders of the congregation that meets there as well as the status of that project.
Pakistani Economist and noted Human Development researcher Mahbud ul Haq once said the “Real wealth of a nation is the people.” The same is true of the church. The people, gifted by their creator for vocation and called by the Holy Spirit, are the resource of this church for our mission today. Bishop Momoh and I concur it is people we will focus on building up and developing #InMissionTogether
Monday evening was time for a celebration supper and I was pleased my brother Jiwoh and his wife Manja could join us. We had a lovely dinner and conversation as our time in Sierra Leone ends for now. Tuesday will be a day of a couple morning meetings then the process of transferring to the airport and beginning the journey home. Grateful for this time with our partners and appreciate your prayers for safe travel. #elcsl30th #ntnl #InMissionTogether