3 Important Lessons I Hope to Learn in Sierra Leone

I last traveled to Sierra Leone in 2016 with a group of my fellow church goers. Our church, Morrow Memorial Methodist, has had over a decade long relationship with the enterprising Bishop of Sierra Leone, Bishop Yambasu.

On the eve of our departure, he asked that we help him fulfill the 10-year Strategic Vision for Sierra Leone that he and his colleagues had developed. Our task was to help transform the temporary “Mushroom School”, into a permanent school(Read: Off to Stunning Sierra Leone: Who Knows What Happens Next?” for more information on this important project).  

Existing "Mushroom" School

But mission trips aren’t one-way streets. Those of us who traveled to Sierra Leone needed help as much as the people we visited, it just wasn’t the material help traditionally associated with mission trips. Sierra Leone offered us Americans new ways to think about challenges we faced back home in the USA. Here are three areas where we hope to dig deeper as we prepare to visit the country two years later.

1. Christian-Muslim relations-In the US and around the world, Muslims are persecuted and live quite separately from people of other religions. Yet in Sierra Leone, the two religions intermarry and exist peacefully side by side. While in Sierra Leone, we will be having a talk with our Bishop Yambasu and a Muslim cleric to get their perspective on how we can help build better relations between Muslims and Christians in the US.

A picture of a muslim and a christian girl in school together in school
Muslim and Christian students learn side by side in Sierra Leone

 2. Church as Change Agent-On our last trip, we were tremendously impressed with the leading role that Bishop Yambasu and other religious leaders took in pressuring the Sierra Leonean government to more fully address the Ebola crisis. In the US, many of us are not happy with the increasingly heartless way our government is dealing with poverty, free speech and immigration. Sierra Leone has much to teach about how the religious community can work together to create real change.

Bishop Yambasu
Bishop Yambasu at Community Health Clinic

3. Radical Reconciliation-The US has become such a polarized country. The radical forgiveness that the people of Sierra Leone showed in the wake of their terrible civil war is awe inspiring. In Sierra Leone, we will be searching for clues for how we Americans move forward without so much divisiveness.

Map of Sierra Leone with a pledge about not having civil war occur again

Stay tuned! The Modern-Day Church Lady Sierra Leone Adventure begins today!