*Forgive us as we interrupt our Sabbath Month to inform you of some desperate prayer needs*
I was seated in the sun at Riding Mountain National Park, red purse at my feet, about to head out for milkshakes with my Mum, sister and sister in law. My hands smelled like soap as I’d been scrubbing the tent trailer—we were leaving next morning. We’d been camping for a week there in the heart of Canada in the midst of a boreal forest, climbing with black spruce and wildflowers, because we meet every year from every corner of Canada to fellowship as family.
And my Dad came up with his phone, asking if I had three minutes to update me on Sierra Leone and the first thing he says is: “Pastor Sonnel is okay.”
My Dad is part of The Lulu Tree prayer team channel on Facebook, and had just caught news of the flooding in Sierra Leone—flooding which had wiped out 400 and counting, and as I scrolled through photo after photo of red-river roads, of bodies swept under by the rush of water, of buses full of people slipping off a mud-slide, of little children lying dead beside their fathers, of men in masks pulling people out of concaved buildings, I wept.
This is a country that’s fragile at best. It’s a country reduced to the most extreme poverty over the past decade by civil war, and then Ebola. The nation is a graveyard for the living who walk around with sunken spirits and downcast eyes for all the pain, heavy around them. The cities are gasping with poverty. It’s one of the most corrupt places in the world to work because it’s one of the most desperate. To be a girl in Sierra Leone is to be forgotten. Everywhere you drive, there are young women and children selling wares in the streets, stopping you at the lights, begging or selling, trying to make it one more day.
It’s a land rich in soil and bush but with very few tools to use its own natural resources and the poor are so weak from years of famine seasons it’s all they can do to make a small garden to keep them for a few months. They sell whatever little food they grow to try to put their kids through school and then resort to one bowl of rice a day.
And now, a flood, washing away the wisp of a life they had.
I was relieved to find out Pastor Sonnel and his wife and Bethel Home and the villagers were okay. The flood had ravaged the area surrounding Freetown, the country’s port-capital, but it’s a small nation and everyone is affected. Everyone knows someone whose life has vanished underwater.
And then, the slums.
In Freetown, the biggest slum is at the bottom of a hill, so in the rainy season, all the waters gush down and dispense upon the slum. Oh friends, the weak, the vulnerable, the babies who have nothing but a dirt floor to sleep on, and now their homes and lives are refuse floating in the toilet bowl valley of Sierra Leone.
On August 15 the president of Sierra Leone issued a notice of 7-days of mourning for the country, and a national-instated minute of silence for the deceased on August 17. Flags flown half-mast across the country for a week, and the national security threat level increased to Level 3. Our Lulu family joined them in this minute of silence, honoring it across Canada, the United States, and Uganda.
In the midst of such horrors, when evil seems to be wiping out the world, we must cling white-knuckled to the Lord’s promise in Isaiah: “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” (Isaiah 43: 1-2)
He doesn’t say we won’t go through the waters. He says when we do, He will be with us. We’re trusting now that He is with us. May the Lord be with you and your families too, through whatever waters you pass, to keep you and to uphold you, dear ones.
Prayers & Petitions
Pray with us, as we ask God how to be His arms and feet to those pulling themselves up from the ground and scrambling to find any remainders of the life they knew.
Pray for The Lulu Tree to be a refuge in the storm that’s gutted this west African country of the few that remain.
Pray for Pastor Sonnel and Mommy Christiana as they open up Bethel Home to the weakest mothers, orphans and widows.
Pray for Daniel, Sonnel’s brother, who oversees the feeding program in the villages.
And pray that God pours down upon us the storehouses of heaven so we can expand our borders and help all those who need it.
Thank you, friends.