CMS UK Reaches Hands to Sierra Leone in South Africa
CMS helps to recover its Christian Spirituality and prosperity
Sierra Leone, an easily overlooked country in the West Africa, is going to be explored again by the Church Mission Society (CMS), UK. CMS General Secretary Canon Tim Dakin is invited as a Guest of Honor to a parade through Freetown, South Africa on 14 April and will meet the leading church figures. He will also make a courtesy call to President Kabbah.
Dating back the history, the very first CMS missionaries serving in Sierra Leone were Germans Lutherans, namely Melchior Renner and Peter Hartwig. They landed at Freetown on 14 April 1804.
At the beginning in 1972, Sierra Leone was built as a home to 3000 slaves from Nova Scotia, Jamaica and London. Until 1808, founders of CMS William Wilberforce and Henry Thornton developed the Sierra Leone Company as part of their strategy to spread Gospel in Africa.
CMS missionaries founded the first grammar schools and university in sub-Saharan Africa, named the Fourah Bay College where Tony Blair's’sfather taught. It has laid the foundations of one of Africa's most successful nations. Due to the cultured population, with a population of just five million, it had an economy the size of Malaysia and Singapore at Independence in 1961, and was called the Athens of West Africa.
No wonder Canon Tim Dakin, CMS General Secretary said,"Christians there know that without the Gospel, there would be no Sierra Leone."
But ten years of particularly brutal civil war from 1991, fomented by Libyan-trained insurgents with drugs and guns paid for by stolen diamonds, have beggared the country, now the poorest on earth.
Mr Penfold, Paramount Chief of Freetown and Bo has high expectation for the arrival of CMS missionary, “S"Sierra Leone could be the most viable country in Africa. CMS has had a big part to play in that and I hope this event will excite people about the future."
Between 10- 14 April, simultaneous celebrations to mark the CMS missionary's landing in Sierra Leone will take place in the capital Freetown, the provincial capital Bo and at Westminster, London. St Margaret's Church, Westminster will host a special service on 14 April at 2pm.
CMS President Viscountess Brentford will host the reception, which include guests Peter Penfold, British High Commissioner in Sierra Leone from 1997-2000, Sierra Leonean High Commissioner in London, His Excellency Alhaji Suleiman Tejan-Jalloh, and Sierra Leonean ex-patriates including the Mayor of Southwark, The Worshipful Columba Blango, to mark the event.
The Sierra Leone Inter-Diocesan Association will also sponsor two plaques with the inscription quoted from Isaiah 55: 13, "An everlasting sign that shall not be destroyed" They will be unveiled in both Freetown and Bo cathedrals, reminding people the mark of gospel on this piece of land should never cease.
With a vision to rebuild Sierra Leone as a society of Christians, Canon Tim Dakin continues,"Spirituality literally builds societies. With the terrible war behind us, we now want to strengthen our partnership with the church there to help in the job of rebuilding."
Christian education for the villagers in the Western Provinces of Sierra Leone is considered essential. Rt Revd Sam Gbonda, he came originally from a small village and was educated by CMS comments, "If we want to prevent future rebellion by gullible illiterate young men we have to give them a Christian education."
CMS has also helped rebuild the peninsular churches, targeted by rebels. It presently funds a school re-building program in Bo, and a nationwide program of evangelism training and post-trauma counseling called DISKET, founded by Canon Modupe Taylor-Pierce, formerly Chief Executive of the West Africa Examinations Board.