by Erica Hale
It’s been just under a year since my feet last touched the deep red soil of Sierra Leone, since we walked through the villages and drove to see all the farmland being cultivated and visited the people across the deep waters of the Little Scarcies river, where there were no churches and they had never heard the Good News of the Gospel of Christ.
Time is a funny thing. A year can seem like no time at all, a quick spin around the sun ticking off the boxes of holidays, birthdays, anniversaries. But a year in the life of a newborn baby is an enormous thing; it takes that child from first breath to first step; from first cry to first word.
And it’s been that kind of year for the churches and farms of Lulu Sierra Leone, a year of rapid growth so profound that it takes your breath away.
Shortly after our visit, Pastor Sonnel launched a series of crusades where the gospel was shared from village to village, including those across the river. And village by village, hearts responded! A harvest so abundant that it presented a unique need:
“Here are the villages who are requesting churches,” Sonnel wrote, and listed them by name: Thofayim, Gbare, Kakonky, Layagboray, Kalinton, Gberka, Kamawoinoi. So many villages, so great a need. And yet?
In less than a year’s time, the Lord has provided abundantly for those who responded to His call! Today, construction is nearing completion on seven churches:
The seeds planted during Pastor Sonnel’s crusades less than a year ago have grown strong roots, shooting up and spreading branches that shelter the harvest of new Christian hearts under the simple, tin-roofed new churches. Not only that, but the Lord has provided pastors for each village! We rejoice in hearing about these men of God who are trained in the Word, now shepherding each new Christian community.
Lord, we thank You for the astounding way You provided so quickly for the villages requesting churches. We thank you for the hearts that were moved to help, for the hands that were commissioned to build, and for the souls that will fill these simple buildings with the beauty of joyful worship, fellowship, and love.
We thank you for the shepherds who have moved into these villages, pastoring Your church with passion and sharing the Gospel. May they be blessed, protected, and covered by Your great grace.
In the same eleven months, the farms we visited have produced a similar abundant harvest. The soft green expanses of sprouting rice grew heavy with grain, and the harvest?
It is pouring in–a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over!
In fact, Pastor Sonnel had a hard time finding enough workers to bring in the rice. This year, the harvest fed eighteen villages! Eighteen villages, sustained with affordable food and carried through the “hungry season” that used to bring them to their knees.
Villagers brought empty bowls and returned with them overflowing. Can you imagine the relief, knowing that you can feed your family even through the season of famine? And, even more, knowing that you are seen and loved and cared for by God and by His people?
And even as the harvest pours in, the Lord has provided even more. This month, a second tractor and plow were given to Lulu Sierra Leone! The miracle of the first tractor and how it has revolutionized farming in the villages is still fresh in our minds, and then the miracle of food for eighteen villages. What miracles does Jehovah Jireh—the Lord who provides—have in store for the year to come?
Father, we thank you for the miracle of great provision, for the way You sustain Your children with food for the body and for the soul. We praise you for providing seeds to plant and tractors to turn up the soil. Thank You for bringing down the rain and the sun in their seasons, and for growing and multiplying those seeds. Thank You for the hands that harvested the rice and for the way it’s being distributed with love. We praise you, Lord, for the villages that will not go hungry during times of famine and for the souls that are filled to overflowing with Your love.
Friends, in November as we will celebrate the Thanksgiving feast, Mommy Emily will be traveling first to Sierra Leone, then to Liberia and Uganda. Please pray with us for her health, safety, and traveling mercies. Please pray for her family, as they will be apart for longer than they’ve ever been. And please pray for the Lord to use the time she will be in Africa to knit our Lulu family together, bringing us close in understanding and fellowship as brothers and sisters of our Abba Father.