FAR | Sierra Leone

Overview: Sierra Leone

The Republic of Sierra Leone, meaning “Black Lion” for the dark jagged mountains along its coastline, is located on the western coast of Africa.  It is about the size and shape of South Carolina. English is the official language although Krio is the vernacular used by most of the native population. Of the seven million inhabitants, 77% are Muslim, 21% are Christian and the remainder practice traditional African religions. Religious freedom is protected in this country; Christians and Muslim live peacefully together.

The country was ruled by tribal chiefs until 1787 when England began settlements of former British and American slaves who earned their freedom fighting in the American Revolution; hence, the name for the capital city, Freetown. In 1808, Sierra Leone became a crown colony of England and remained under British rule until it was granted independence in 1961.  A civil war instigated by the United Revolutionary Front in 1991 lasted for eleven years. Brutal atrocities (amputations/mutilations)  and the forced displacement of 2 million inhabitants devastated the country. World Hope International was founded primarily to address this national crisis.  The country currently has a stable government but remains one of the poorest nations in the world.

Wesleyans in Sierra Leone

The first missionaries sent to a foreign land by the Wesleyan Church (Wesleyan Methodists) arrived in Sierra Leone in 1891. They had been inspired by Augustus Cole, a recent convert to Christianity from that country who had come to the States to recruit missionaries. They chose to move inland away from the more civilized coastal cities but were not prepared for the primitive conditions, African climate and tropical diseases. In the first ten years six of these pioneer evangelists were buried in the Kunso cemetery; three others died shortly after returning to the States.

The Wesleyans centered their work in the northern provinces, establishing a boarding school at Makeni, a Bible College at Gbendembu and a large hospital and medical clinic in Kamakwie. Mission stations and churches have been established all across northern Sierra Leone, the region assigned to The Wesleyan Church by a coalition of evangelical denominations.  While oversight is still provided by Global Partners, there is a strong national church led by Sierra Leonese leaders.

College Church in Sierra Leone

We hope to undertake two initiatives in this country in the coming months:

1) We will establish a partnership with the village of Maken, under the auspices and supervision of World Hope International. We will work with village leaders and the pastor of the church there, to see how we might empower this community economically and spiritually.

2) We will restore the former Wesleyan Conference Center that was seriously damaged during the civil war.  This will become a retreat center for Christians in northern Sierra Leone, as well as a revenue-generating conference center. The revenue generated will help support rural pastors of The Wesleyan Church of Sierra Leone.  It will be named the Hoffman Conference Center in honor of Ross and Karen Hoffman, for their visionary passion for Africa.