by Dr. Conrad Van Dijk
In his letter to the church in Galatia, Paul wrote “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (6:9 NIV). He was right. Despite many years of obstacles, travelling great distances, miles of walking, oppressive weather and personal trials, the Hope for Sierra Leone ministry has become ripe for the harvest.
Last month, through God’s leading, strength and your faithful support of our ministry, Transformation Sierra Leone (TSL) was launched! This is the first step towards creating a sustainable transformation movement for this small yet very special country. Even though we knew this day was coming, it was a joyful milestone for everyone.
If you are just learning about our ministry, I want to briefly explain how we came to this momentous event.
Changing mindsets over time
Since 2003, I’ve been visiting Sierra Leone about three times per year. While I began ministering there as a veterinarian helping with their poultry farming, I’ve also been sharing the principles of transformation. These principles help to change your worldview from one that looks at things from a short-term, earthly mindset to an eternal kingdom mindset. It’s a change to God’s life-giving way of thinking. These principles are described very well by Ed Silvoso and Transform Our World, so I’ve been sharing them every time I visit.
The people in Sierra Leone live in a survival mindset, just trying to get from one day to the next. Grief, loss and poverty are all around. But in 2013, after a meeting where I asked local people if they would be change agents for God in their own country, a small group agreed to take ownership of a move of transformation in their nation. Since then, I’ve slowly seen their vision change from desperation to confidence. Their hunger for God and His kingdom has been increasing. Their eyes have been lifting higher and seeing further.
And now, they have it! Their desire is to see Sierra Leone changed by the power of God. And last month I travelled there to train, equip and be part of launching the national movement!
A recap of our trip
I travelled overseas with my Transformation Canada colleague Bruce Mann and his cousin Don from South Africa. During our stay, Bruce shared more about the principles of transformation and assisted with the administrative needs of the TSL team. Don spoke about having a lifestyle of integrity, using a program he’s developed to train community leaders how to combat corruption by applying principles of integrity into all aspects of life. You can see more about Don’s program at www.cli.international. And I continued with my previous message of how God can provide hope in the midst of personal tragedy.
As with trips in the past, we did a lot of walking, speaking, and spending most of our time in the city of Freetown. And yes, it was hot. Even the rain is warm in Sierra Leone!
But God is advancing his kingdom, and during this visit we experienced a number of firsts. One that we all agreed was the highlight of our trip was ministering to the local TSL team. These kingdom workers are hungry, and they’re now getting the vision! They are seeing beyond their immediate needs and moving into a wider vision for their community and country. Another first was an invitation to speak to a group of 50-60 key influencers in Freetown, including police, city managers and even the deputy mayor! We also met with members of the Concerned Traders of Sierra Leone, an important retail union in the region. God is giving us increased favour with leaders in business, education and government.
We left the team with some transformation “homework” to do until we can visit again. We encouraged them to build a prayer base and to discover the felt needs of Freetown — the largest city in Sierra Leone with about 20% of the population living within the city limits. We also urged them to meet with Christian lecturers at the agricultural college. Hunger is the primary felt need in this small nation. In order to address it, I believe a new way of looking at agriculture is required. As we’ve seen in Zimbabwe, the Farming God’s Way method of agriculture can revive the land and restore its productivity. My hope is that the TSL team can encourage the college to embrace and teach the Farming God’s Way methods to help their country fight hunger.
All of this is part of the movement of hope in Sierra Leone. It was a wonderful trip, and I’m looking forward to seeing the TSL team’s progress when I return later this year.