Sunday, November 24, 2013

Family Trip to Salone

  It has been an amazing and busy week. I was so blessed to have my sister Stephanie and her husband Ben come and visit me for ten days here in Sierra Leone. This has been the first visit for me from friends and family back home. I know that it was a huge sacrifice for them, yet I pray that it was a time of learning for them and a time of seeing the needs and work here in Sierra Leone.

A lot of our time was traveling between Makeni and Freetown, and the time seemed to speed by faster than light. We had time to laugh, catch up on life back home and experience the work taking place in Sierra Leone. For many, pictures and words can never fully communicate what it is like living and working here. That is why I am so thankful that their visit here will be a catalyst to help me communicate fully the joys and challenges of working on the mission field to you all.

One of the highlights of our week was spending a Sunday with Pastor Emmanuel and his family in the Deep Eye Water area. Pastor Emmanuel is my first Sierra Leonean instructor for Tree of Life and has since begun a new church as a result of his sharing the Truth with his students. The Sunday we spent with them was inspiring as we sat in their house church packed out with 28 people. It was their 6th service.  I am thankful for how God is blessing Pastor and his family for his faithfulness, integrity and perseverance as we partner together.

We also were able to visit the Binkolo Growth Centre led by Ismail Bangura. My family was able to see were our next new Tree of Life class will begin in December there and to hear about our potential partnership with the centre to process moringa and make it available to populations at risk for malnutrition and for possible exportation.

We also had some fun time together at the beautiful Tokeh Beach. I could not let my family fly thousands of miles without letting them enjoy the beauty of the beaches here in Sierra Leone. It was a relaxing and long overdue opportunity to just ‘chill’.

I also want to say thank you to the individuals and churches who gathered needed items for me and the work here. Also, I want to say thanks for the fun items as well. I may be subject to a Skittle overdose! ;-) You all will never know what the little things mean here and how much they are treasured.
I will be writing more soon as I prepare for the new class in the coming weeks. Please continue to pray for more leaders to arise. Pray for the new church Pastor Emmanuel is leading and for his family. Pray for our team as many are traveling and as change is on the horizon. I love you all. LG+LP

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Honest Faith

This season of my life I am learning about suffering. I confess in the past, the suffering I experienced in life consisted of things such as a flat tire, hoping my depleted checking account would cover my bills, or a transient sickness would knock me out of pocket for a few days. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not trying to diminish or minimize various types of suffering, yet even in those situations, it has occurred to me that my past sufferings seem small in comparison to the war that rages around me now. I realize the blessing of having lived in a country blessed with abundant resources, access to a family of faith and the peace of mind knowing that safety and security is a priority. That stands in direct contrast to my current world where suffering and persecution is on a much larger scale minus the safety nets I took for granted. The truth is, we cannot empathize with the hungry unless we are hungry. We can’t understand a martyr’s allegiance in the face of death until we ourselves face a persecuting mob. In other words, we can easily rattle off scripture, but can never truly understand how that will flesh out until our own lives and faith are in the midst of those same circumstances.

As a believer, I have discovered that faith is a radical thing. In a culture of faith and freedom of religion, it is easier to exercise it and proclaim it. We often forget that the tests of our faith reveal the depth of our faith. We learn the right verses to quote, the correct blessings to pronounce and the cliché responses that are expected in the world of Christian culture. I have been humbled to examine my own religious culture and to examine if what falls out of my mouth is what truly is felt in my heart. This may be the last thing you expect a missionary to write, yet I would be a hypocrite to recite expected religious liturgy without acknowledging the truth about all believers…we are human and flawed.

I often think about John the Baptist and doubting Thomas on their quest of solidifying their faith. We may think of Christians who ask “Why” to be heretical. And God forbid if we question God and admit that we do not understand His ways or thoughts. Through this time of my life, I have come to relish the honesty of those who hurt, do not understand and who ask those questions. It is not a guarantee that God, in His sovereignty, will in fact give us all the answers, yet there is something beautiful about people being honest with themselves, other hurting believers and ultimately with God.

My faith started with the question “Why?”. Growing up in a Christian family, I learned the proper responses and church culture required of me. I thank God for Christian parents that exposed me to the Truth of the Word, yet we all know that faith is a personal journey and not an inherited way of life. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I started asking, “Why do I believe what I believe?” I had to strip away much of my learned behavior and begin the solitary journey to discover Jesus for myself. This was a milestone for me.

Now is the season of testing. It is the time in the caves alongside David fleeing from Saul’s spear. It is a time when faith seems to slip, questions come, and yet silence. James reminds us that we should ‘rejoice in our sufferings because it yields perseverance’. This is when the providence and faithfulness of God’s hand reaches down in the midst of my ignorance and utter exhaustion to fulfill that promise.It is the time in-between that is the battle.

What would our family of faith look like if we were honest about our questions and doubts? How much more could we relate to those within the faith and those struggling outside the faith? How much encouragement and solace would it bring to us and others knowing that we are walking the craggy, narrow road together and not possessing all the answers? I write this today to remind us all to be honest, to remain steadfast in prayer, trust God and to never allow ourselves to be calloused to the sufferings of others and their battle to endure it.

I love you all! LG+LP

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Praises and Prayers

Life on the mission field is filled with extremes. Sometimes work is overwhelming, fast and never-ending. Other times, the pace is slow and seems to creep by while the rest of the world spins out of control. I can say that the past couple of months have been more on the moderate paced side. I have been blessed to be settled in my new place and making new friends within my neighborhood. The place is very secure, yet I cannot say that it is extremely quiet. Of the four walls of the compound, outside one wall is a church, the other a mosque, the third a road and the fourth an entertainment center that plays soccer matches over a PA system. Though the area is full of activity, it is a blessing from God and I am thrilled to be there.

Our Tree  of Life classes are doing well. This week I met with Pastor Emmanuel, the lead instructor for the Tree of Life branch in Freetown. He just finished up his latest class of 9 bringing our total of graduates up to over 160 since last October. He also has relocated to an area known as Deep Eye Water which was born out of a seeker from a previous class name “A”. “A” asked Pastor Emmanuel to come to the area and begin a new church since the area is lacking and very populated. Pastor has found a house and is meeting regularly with “A” and six others who have expressed interest in knowing more about the Christian faith. Please be in prayer for this new church plant and for Pastor Emmanuel as he teaches these seekers of Truth.

Tree of Life will also be beginning a second class in Makeni starting in the month of October. We are dialoguing and working with the Binkolo Growth Centre in Binkolo,, a village just north of Makeni. I am hoping this will be the site of the new class. We also are dreaming together with this growth center about developing it to allow a network of farmers grow and sell moringa for processing at this center. This will provide moringa to local and international markets. It also will create jobs and open more avenues for the Tree of Life curriculum in villages surrounding the Makeni area. Please be in prayer for all who are involved in these initial stages of planning and discussion.

I also am happy to announce that in November my sister and her husband will be visiting Sierra Leone for 10 days. I am so excited that I will get to see my family and have them experience life here in Sierra Leone. My prayer for them is that this vision trip will help them know more about the needs within Sierra Leone, the needs of missionaries and others working here, and to return as advocates for the work and people within the country. Please pray for them as they prepare to come.

I will keep this brief for now and will write more soon. I hope to have transportation by the end of the month, so that is another answered prayer. Continue to remember my team as we strive to work and serve here in Sierra Leone. With every victory comes a new challenge. I love you all and am forever grateful for your support, love and prayers. May God continue to bless you and keep you.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Busy and Blessed

The last month has been a a busy and exhausting week full of praises and new challenges. I first want to say thanks to God for the answered prayer of a new place to live. Renting here is not always easy. Finding a fair price and a place that is secure can be a challenge. My lease was up on my old place on September 1. Up until a week before this date, I had no idea or confirmation of a new place to live. I literally was riding on a wave of faith and prayers trusting that God would provide. He did.

The new place is the same price as my old place with the added luxuries of a fence, security guards, running water and a gas burner. No more cooking with charcoal! ;-) A good friend of mine, Tracey, who was working with a partnering NGO advocated for me concerning this house since she was leaving at the end of August. They even threw in some furniture and beds. This by far has been a relief and has taken a load of stress off of me concerning the past break-ins and security risks.

I also am praying about purchasing transportation soon thanks to another blessing of God through an anonymous donor. This will help greatly since I commute back and forth to Freetown and since the project will now be expanding due to a future teacher training conference that I am planning. Continue to pray that this purchase and the reliability of the transportation will suffice for the work here.

I am excited to say that Tree of Life is going strong, yet slow. I am focusing on quality and not quantity at this point. Pastor Emmanuel, my lead instructor in Freetown, reported four new conversions this past month and is moving closer to the new church he has planted. We also have five potential new teachers for the ministry, and I am working now on developing the training for them sometime in November.

I also am grateful that some of my family will be coming in November to visit me and for a vision trip. One of the biggest fears of missionaries working abroad is the thought of being forgotten. It is really a blessing to know that they will be coming to encourage me, my friends, our project and to see things first hand in order to report back in the States. I have been blessed greatly by all of you who have been faithful to continue to support me financially, through prayer and kind emails. It means so much to me and only God knows the value it holds within my heart.

One thought from my journal before I go…

Exodus 4-6

Today as I read from these chapters, I was fascinated by Moses’ continual doubt and questioning of God. I guess I should not be surprised. I am guilty of the same thing. Moses must have expected his own words via Aaron, and the signs and wonders to bring about an immediate release of the Israelites from Pharaoh's hand. It did not. Moses continued to go back despite that his own people began to despise and blame him for their increased work, Pharaoh’s resistance, and also Moses’ perception that God did not hold up his end of the bargain. God, you always uphold Your promises but in Your own time and in Your own ways. Just as Moses was persistent to listen to Your voice to “Go tell Pharaoh…”, help me persevere during my own circumstances and doubt to obey You knowing that you will fulfill your promises with complete perfection.

I love you all! LG+LP

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Binkolo Growth Centre

974171_725681756399_1229432319_n Often I find myself amazed at the kinds of people and organizations I encounter here in Sierra Leone. So many Sierra Leoneans are doing great work and are making the most of their skills and resources in order to further the development of their country. You rarely hear about these success stories in contrast to the bad news that often carries the weight of the media’s attention. One of these people is Ismail Bangura from the Binkolo Growth Centre near Makeni.

Binkolo is a small village just north of where I Live in Makeni. I met him through a friend from a partnering NGO. My friend heard of my work with moringa and knew of Ismail’s new venture with the processing of moringa, and she connected us. Tree of Life is growing and we are praying and exploring the possibility of joining partners in developing a network of farmers for the production and sale of moringa to local and international markets. This will give jobs to the local farmers and others and would hopefully encourage a new moringa industry that will benefit the country as a whole. We are still in the discussion and planning stages so I ask that you pray with us as we seek wisdom in this facet of the ministry here. We believe this will also open up opportunities into various communities to share of Tree of Life curriculum and the truth of the Gospel.

Binkolo Growth Center is truly a breath of fresh air. Mr. Bangura has been at the center since the war began and later reopened it when the war ended in 2001. His goal is to impart skills to local communities, advocate for them in the areas of marketing, and to encourage them in striving toward a self-sustainable life through the use of the skills they have acquired. The center consists of a carpentry shop, blacksmith shop, agriculture center, computer lab, conference hall, canteen, cassava/moringa processing center and various offices.

It was amazing to me to walk into the blacksmithing shop and to see polio victims, physically disabled, teaching young, healthy men the trades and skills that they had acquired. Mr. Bangura made a note of the role reversal and said that this was intentional. Mr. Bangura recognizes that many disabled individuals have intact minds that should be utilized in training others in their various areas of expertise. This has instilled within the disabled a sense of dignity since many often struggle with stigmas and the rejection of society in large. Mr. Bangura shared with us that he is a Christian and his commitment to the people at the center truly revealed a heart that longs to help the less fortunate within his country.

My prayer is that the Binkolo Growth Centre will continue to flourish and will be a partner with us as we continue with our ministry here. Please pray for Ismail and the center as they continue to make a difference in their community. Continue to pray for Tree of Life as we grow and form into a sustainable ministry here in Sierra Leone and for the development of long lasting partnerships. God bless you all and thank you for your continued support and prayers. LG+LP

Friday, July 19, 2013

Showers of Blessings

rain I feel the need to write today to all of you, my supporters and partners, to share a testimony of gratitude for what God has done recently in my life. Many of you may know that as a Pioneers missionary, I am depend on financial support from individuals and churches for my personal needs and ministry here in Sierra Leone. Raising support is not always easy, yet I have found in these last three years that the process has been such a blessing to me though hard work at the same time. Relationships have grown and new ones have been made, and I love the fact that I feel directly connected to you all and that you all are directly connected to the ministry here. I say all of this to say ‘thank you’ because without your monthly support, I could not be here. I know that it is a huge sacrifice for some of you, but I pray continually that an eternal perspective will be the constant in our hearts and minds as we serve together.

Yesterday, I received three wonderful surprises. The first two being anonymous donations to Pioneers for me and the ministry here. One covered the cost to purchase some form of transportation here. Our ministry is expanding, and up until now, I have relied on public transportation which is not always reliable or safe. Many of you have been praying that God would provide for this need, so today I am humbled and happy to announce that your prayers have been answered. Another generous donation also was given to my general account to be used for ministry and personal needs. All I can say is that God is faithful! The third surprise came in the form of an email from an organization called Medsend ( This organization gives grants to pay for medical missionaries’ student loans while they serve abroad on the mission field. Medsend wrote to tell me that I was approved for the grant and for the next 4 years they will be making my monthly student loan payments. One word…HALLELUJAH!

Today in my journal they verse was from Colossians 3:15 which says, “As members of one body you are called to live in peace. And ALWAYS be thankful.” It is so easy to be thankful when blessings are overflowing, yet my prayer is that I will continue to be thankful even in those silent seasons where God is teaching me patience and utter dependence on Him. That is my challenge. Let us all be thankful for the blessings and gifts from God, yet let us even be more thankful for the Heavenly Giver.

I love you all and will write again soon. Please be in prayer for us this week as I will be meeting with several individuals concerning the beginning of a working moringa farm here in Sierra Leone. Love and blessings to you all. LG+LP

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Whole Truth…and Nothing but the Truth

chucrch Tree of Life began in October of 2012. I confess when I arrived in Sierra Leone that I never expected this to be my ministry. I am an ICU nurse. The adrenaline driven job is a stark contrast to my job now. How does one go from saving lives in the ICU to teaching about a tree in West Africa? I admit that my job is not as fast paced, yet still it is about saving lives. Many people still do not understand what I “do”. It is a common misunderstanding among churches and Christians. Many feel that missionaries walk around with their Bible, showing a film, asking for people to ‘make a decision’ by raising their hands, and then they dunk them and report of the masses who have now followed Jesus. I am not claiming that these venues are wrong. They truly have brought the Gospel to many areas of the world, but I long for the day that the Christian culture changes and sees missionaries in a different light and in a larger scope.

Some people do not quite understand exactly what our ministry is about here in Sierra Leone. Some may think I am a Johnny Appleseed just planting trees throughout West Africa. The truth is: I am a Johnny Appleseed church planter. ;-) Our classes teach about physical wellness and spiritual wellness. The first hour is dedicated to sharing Bible stores starting from Adam and Eve and ending with the Great Commission of Jesus to “go and teach all that I have commanded you”. The second hour teaches students how to prevent diseases that are prevalent in Sierra Leone and about the moringa tree. Our classes are predominantly non-believers and the questions and exchanges have proven to be powerful. It is rare you can have this kind of venue to openly share with people from all backgrounds the story of Jesus.

You may be wondering why I feel the need to write this. Well, simply because you are the ones who support me and you have the right to know. As people come into our class, they are with us for 6 weeks. It is during that time relationships begin. Trust develops and conversations begin. We have had over five conversions and one new house church emerge since October. My hope is quality, not quantity. It is exciting to me that people are learning how to live healthy lives, save children from dying from malnutrition by using moringa, and above all, they are receiving the Truth about Christ which is the ultimate healing.

This month I have a meeting with a man from Dallas Baptist University. This dialogue will be about beginning a working moringa farm that will teach people how to grow, process, sell and export moringa. It will give jobs and also be the base for our Tree of Life ministry. I also have had requests from Mali, Guinea, Morocco, Kenya and Rwanda expressing an interest in our curriculum and ministry. It is exciting to see the international potential this ministry has. Our goal – glorifying God and making Him known in all that we do and to the ends of the earth.

So for those who may not quite understand our ministry, feel free to inquire. But please know that our heart is to see the advancement of the Gospel and to see people living healthy lives all for the glory of God. I love you all and ask that you continue to pray for Tree of Life, our students, our future, our partners and our team. Pray we will ‘be’ much more than what ‘do’. LG+LP

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tears for the City

images In Luke 19:41-44, Jesus laments for Jerusalem as he approached the city. The city that praised him and cried “Hosanna!”, Jesus preceded this glorious welcome with tears. As I meditate on this passage, I am challenged and convicted. I cannot imagine the pain Jesus felt being welcomed in such a glorious and majestic way only to be later falsely accused and crucified by the same praise givers. The twelve deserted him along with the city that welcomed him as the King of the Jews. This betrayal must have been a gut-wrenching experience for the God-man. And it was just the beginning of his isolation and lonely walk down the ‘way of suffering’. Even the closest of Jesus’ friends did not understand him and fled when their encouragement and defense was needed, yet Jesus knew this was the lot that had fallen to him. This was the cup that he submitted to drink from through sweat of blood and tears.

It is encouragement to me that Christ, among all who have lived and breathed, experienced betrayal, rejection, false accusations, suffering and even death on a level that we will never know. During this season of my life, I have been faced with betrayals, physical harm, rejection and false accusations. I look to Jesus’ example in all of this and know that He knows and understands. Although these trials cannot be avoided, it is a comfort to know that He is with me. He cries with me. He hurts with me. He will even fight for me when necessary.

My challenge remains in the preliminary action of Jesus before his passion and suffering commenced. The challenge for me are the tears…the love. Knowing what awaited him, still Jesus wept for those that he knew would spit on him, strike him and place the crown of thorns on his head. This is my prayer. In the darkest parts of the world, Lord, give me tears and love for those who ‘do not know what they are doing’. May my life be a life that silently accepts the cup of suffering while still extending grace, love and forgiveness. God, let me weep for Sierra Leone and the rest of the world who desperately needs You.

Your prayers are being answered and classes are multiplying. Pastor Emmanuel is teaching two classes and I just finished my own class in Makeni. We have a group and our first church plant has emerged over the last couple of months. Please be in prayer concerning these things. We are also discussing a future partnership in expanding the Tree of Life ministry and working with an investor that longs to create working moringa farms throughout the country and the world. We are in the planning stages, but pray that God would guide us and give us wisdom in the decisions that are on the horizon.

I love you all and thank you for your support! Please drop me and email and let me know how I can pray for you. GTG

Saturday, May 25, 2013


imagesLet us start with the ‘sweet’: The tree of Life ministry is going well and God is blessing and moving. From the beginning it has been my biblical hope to see and organic, spirit-led and sustainable ministry that will guide people to the Truth of the Gospel and also foster healing in their relationships to themselves, others and creation. I wish I could announce the thousands who have flocked to our classes, yet our numbers-driven culture needs a check-up, nor is it a fair assessment of God’s hand at work, and that is a sermon for another day. ;-) I was reminded by a friend of the prophet Jeremiah’s 25 year ministry: and the result was two believers that followed him. Many call him the “Weeping Prophet”. But I would like to call him the “Persevering Prophet”.

One who has followed his example is Pastor Emmanuel who is working with me as an instructor/church planter with Tree of Life. Despite obstacles, he is bent on serving God and pastoring the flock God gives him. He has now begun his 4th and 5th classes. The first class has 20 students who began this week. Please pray for them as they learn holistically what health really is: spirit, body and mind. His second class has been born out of a new convert we will call “A”. “A” lives in a village not far from pastor but is an area that is very staunch in other religious beliefs. He is meeting with three people at “A’s” house weekly. God has given him a vision that this will be the first church plant from the Tree of Life ministry. It is exciting and challenging at the same time. I ask you all to pray for pastor, the classes, and particularly “A” who has a growing hunger to know our Savior.

My class graduated a couple of weeks ago in Makeni, and I am praying now that a leader will emerge to continue the work here as Pastor Emmanuel is doing in Freetown. Please also pray for an unspoken request for me as I seek wisdom and guidance and several major decisions in the coming months.

There seems to be a universal law that couples opposites purposefully. James chapter 1 tells us to “Rejoice in your suffering…for it makes you mature and complete”. Often we are blinded to this truth and tend to look at our current circumstances and think, “What the heck is going on?” We fail to see from a Divine perspective and want answers and solutions now. ‘Lament’ is not a very nice word in Christendom, yet necessary in our faith to not only show our dependence upon a Sovereign God, but to reveal the honesty of a hurting soul. I confess I have been in a season of lament with the losses that have come into my life, the betrayals and just serving in a very difficult and dark place. Many of you have, through divine timing, sent so many encouraging emails that God has used. Thank you. Keep praying as I pray for you. Keep loving God and people.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

First Fruits

images Tree of Life Ministries launched in October of 2012 with our first official class graduating in January upon my return. Up until that point, the vision was transforming into a curriculum sharing about health prevention and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many still do not understand the ministry fully, or feel that it is just another para-NGO focused on health training. People have gotten glimpses and slivers of truth about our ministry, yet our purpose is ultimately to make the name of Jesus known among the unreached and to make disciples. Our foundation for this is relationships, just as Jesus modeled to us. Our medium is creative, holistic and truthful on all levels: spiritually, physically and emotionally.

I am happy to be writing today to tell you about a new disciple who I will call “A”. This new disciple emerged from a relationship Pastor Emmanuel (My co-teacher with TOL) has formed over the past weeks. I visited A’s community with Pastor Emmanuel and Mark this week. The area is predominately “M” with a very prominent “M” school in the community. As we walked the long road to A’s house, I must confess that my heart was distracted with other trials happening around me currently. Hope seemed distant and out of reach, yet when we reached A’s house God opened my eyes and turned my focus to a wonderful new work taking place in this small remote community.

Pastor has been discipling A and meeting with him weekly. Now A's friends and the community have asked for the Tree of Life class/Bible teaching in their area. Not only is there a physical need because of lack of safe water and an unclean environment, there is such a need for spiritual Truth. We sat for over an hour reading scriptures about salvation through Jesus Christ and the need of a blood sacrifice to atone the wrath and judgment of God against sin. After we prayer together, A offered a place for us to have the class behind his house. He even made the comment that we could have a church there.

As I walked that dusty road to A’s house, hope seemed out of reach, but after our time of church that Sunday, hope was restored. I realized that this is the first fruits of the work taking place here. All glory goes to God! Please pray for A, his family, neighbors, Pastor Emmanuel and the new class that will be starting in the Bessberry community. God will complete this new work he has begun!

Monday, April 29, 2013

First TOL Graduation in Makeni

My heart is overflowing with gratitude to the God who is sovereign and the source of all good works through His Spirit. This past Sunday, April 28th, our first 13 graduates were given certificates celebrating the completion of their six week course. During these six weeks they were able to learn 15 health prevention lessons (i.e. HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Clean Water, etc.). Disease prevention is key here since curative medicine is often not available or very expensive to the common citizen. We also taught 3 lessons on the moringa tree, a life saving resource God has blessed the world with to give added nutrients to foods that lack sustenance. However, our class is just not focused on the physical wellness of the person, we also give 18 Bible stories from Creation to Christ to give spiritual wellness as well. These six weeks have bonded us together as friends and some as brothers and sisters in Christ. My prayer is that each student will walk away with spiritual seeds planted and educational tools that will allow them, their families, communities and world to live healthy lives enjoying God and glorifying His name throughout the earth.

Our celebration began after church. Pastor Emmanuel K. Sesay, my first teacher within Tree of Life was the chairman and guest speaker. I also was very thankful to Mr. Matthew Tholley, and their pastor Edward Kargbo for their open invitation for Tree of Life to come and share within their community. The students gave testimonies and even prepared a short play demonstrating how to avoid bacterial/parasite infections by practicing proper hygiene. I was so proud of them to see that the knowledge imparted to them (despite my imperfect Krio) was etched on their hearts and minds.

After awarding them the certificates, we all had a time of eating together and fellowshipping. It was a wonderful day to say the least. All praise, honor and glory goes to God whose Word will never return void. I pray that the seeds of truth planted, the new relationships and the knowledge given would grow and multiply.

Thank you all for your prayers and please continue to pray that God would raise up teachers from among the classes who have the zeal, maturity and the heart to tkae this Truth to other parts of Sierra Leone and abroad. Love God – Love people.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

True Shalom

Lets-bring-Peace-and-Love-on-Earth-peace-and-love-revolution-club-27113601-400-300 It has been some time since I have written. It should be no surprise that living on the continent of Africa can often have its own set of challenges. For the past week, the internet has been down hindering my ability to communicate all that has been happening. I thank each of you in advance for your understanding. Communicating to those of you who are faithful in supporting me financially, emotionally and spiritually is a great priority to me. Think of my blogs and emails as a hug via the net. ;-)

Where to start? So much has happened in the last few weeks. We had our final class in Makeni on Tuesday and our first class in Makeni will be graduating this Sunday, April 28th. They are excited and I am extremely proud of them. Pastor Emmanuel from Freetown who leads the Tree of Life classes there will be coming as our guest speaker. I am sure it will be a grand time of celebrating with lots of loud music and spicy food! My prayer now is that teachers will begin to emerge from these classes. So far we have a total of 4 classes who have completed the Tree of Life curriculum. As of today, we have two potential ‘new’ teachers. My plan is to commit these few to prayer and prepare a workshop to train and disciple these teachers in sharing the Gospel and their community health knowledge with their own families, villages and country. “Going Out” is their challenge, yet it is the command of our Lord.

God has been teaching me volumes. Mark is now back as my security in Makeni. This has been an answered prayer and every morning we have our Bible studies. We are reading through the Bible from beginning to end. I can see the hunger for God’s word growing in him. His faith is maturing and I know that God has “plans of hope and a future for him”. Continue to pray for Mark as he still faces persecution from family for his faith and that he will continue to resist the temptations that surround him. Pray for our mutual understanding of each other despite our cultural differences and worldviews.

Today I was reading from John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” As I read these words from Jesus, I see a stark contrast in the world around me that screams due to the absence of TRUE shalom or peace. The reality is our empty and selfish pursuits which we feel is leading us to peace is actually leading us to a place where peace seems out of reach. Broken relationships with God, ourselves, others and our environment hinders any chance in our life for an everlasting peace. This peace cannot be given by the world, yet we all are guilty of searching for it there. We look to our jobs, ministries, relationships, entertainment, sin, earthly possessions, etc. to find one ounce of shalom. Yet in the end, this peace is transient and false. It will fade and leave us wanting. Lord, Your peace is TRUE, supernatural, and the only peace that will sustain and satisfy the hunger and thirst deep within our souls. Give us Your shalom.

I love you all. Continue to pray and always remember to love God and love people!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Thoughts from John 15:7

heat“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

As I read this verse I am challenged in my previous misinterpretation of this scripture. I confess my misunderstanding may lie in the first part of the verse which is a conditional statement. “If you abide in Me” and IF His “words abide in you” are crucial to this result of “it being done”. Our ‘abiding’ and personal relationship with Christ is key and His ‘Word’ must be something living and breathing in our daily lives. When we know who Christ is and what His words are (the Bible) and if our belief is active in them both, I believe what we ‘desire’ will be what Christ desires. I believe our words will be His Word.

Claiming a knowledgeable yet inactive faith and expecting God to give you a new Mercedes, wealth or fame is unfortunately a message being exported from our Western culture. This verse does not make God a magical genie waiting to grant our every wish. We must ask ourselves, “Who are we abiding in and if His Word is abiding in my life?” I believe if this first condition is met, what we ask for and the ‘desires’ of our hearts will align with that of Christ’s.

Do I desire what Christ desires? Does His words resonate and nudge me to ask for the things that would please His own heart?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Planting Together for a Greater Future

Early this morning work began at the Magbenteh Polio Camp in Makeni. The Tree of Life class is required to do one community project in order to receive their certificate for the class. The class chose to plant moringa trees at the polio camp that will one day benefit the community. We showed them two kinds of ways to plant moringa. The first way, is to plant a single tree that will provide shade, flowers, and future seeds that can be used to continue to plant. We also showed them how to plant an intensive garden that consists of over 200 hundred seeds planted closely together. This kind of planting allows the community to harvest moringa leaves every 6 weeks to make moringa powder. This powder is then used as an additive to their regular foods to combat malnutrition and prevent other kinds of sickness.

I was humbled and excited to see everyone there working together and playing various roles. Just as the Bible says, some prepared the soil, some watered and others sowed the seeds. We even had Matilda and Aminata serving as supervisors from their wheelchairs. The community as a whole was excited about the potential of these seeds and what it could mean for their community. It was especially encouraging seeing them pray over the garden before we planted the seeds asking God to bring a good harvest.

I am so proud of my class and look forward to the coming days of teaching them the final 8 lessons left in our class. The rains have already began to come, so we are trusting God for a bountiful harvest – not just the moringa, but also in the hearts of everyone in the class. Please continue to pray for our classes here in Makeni and Freetown. Pray that hearts would be changed as the Gospel is preached and that physical wellness will improve as these communities begin to put into practice the knowledge they are learning. God bless.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

James 1:17

images Every now and again I would like to share some thoughts and writings from my journal. It is in these times I find comfort, peace and truth. I hope they will be an encouragement to you.

“Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”  -James 1:17 (NKJV)

Lord, You are a perfect God of goodness and love. You desire to give us ‘good’ and ‘perfect’ gifts. The question that lingers in my mind is, “Who defines ‘good’ and ‘perfect’?” Some people may say that wealth is a good gift from God, and they in fact may be correct; however, if the love for the wealth corrupts the heart of the man or his love for money trumps his devotion to the Father of lights, then I believe this good gift has been transformed to a curse due to the everlasting corruption that resides in the hearts of men.

God is the one who defines ‘good’ and ‘perfect’ and that does not always mean these gifts will be immediately gratifying or even something we believe may be good for us. Often I think back to how my parents disciplined me. At that time, I did not see what they were ‘giving’ as good or perfect, yet it has resulted in who I am today and instilled within me principles that have benefited my life.

I think about Job and how God allowed Satan to give trials and take everything from him with the exception of his life. Job lamented during this process, yet in the end the result was the glorification of God and the  proof of Job’s unwavering faith was in a good and just God. Lord, despite my opinions of what ‘good’ and ‘perfect’ is, help me to know that what comes from your hand will ALWAYS result in a good and perfect thing. Help me to look to what you define ‘good’ and ‘perfect’ is, despite my own simple mortal mind’s opinion.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Magbentae Hospital in Makeni

MGB Hospital I am learning day by day that what I perceive to be the best things for my life are in fact the things that often are road blocks to greater opportunities. Many of you are aware of the trials that have met me recently over the last few months. God has been faithful in guiding, encouraging and sustaining me during these difficult times. I am grateful to him for his faithfulness and that he “has not forsaken me.” Just as  soon as a stone is removed from my path, the journey becomes easier and a little more encouraging. That is where I am.

This past week I had the wonderful privilege to meet with a woman by the name of Vivian who is the CFO/Administrator of the Magbentae Hospital here in Makeni. Viviana invited me to come and see the hospital and was especially excited when she discovered that I was a nurse. Viviana is a breath of fresh air and, it is obvious that she has such a passion for the work she is doing here.

Tomorrow I will be meeting with Viviana and her Manager, Andrew, concerning the Tree of Life ministry. The hospital has a feeding program for malnourished children and Viviana is so excited about the potential moringa may have for this program. I have also shared with her that I teach the Bible and community health. I do not know what tomorrow’s meeting will hold, but I am asking you all to pray that God will open another door for the message of TRUTH to reach another area of need.

The hospital has lots of land and they have expressed an interest to plant moringa trees to support their patients and families. I admire the Hospital and their perseverance through hard times. They are a private hospital and depend on paying patients to sustain themselves. They are doing a wonderful job and I am looking forward to our future partnership together.

Thank you all for your continued support and prayers. Please continue to advocate for us through your churches, facebook, friends, families, etc. Know that you all are partners in the work here and I could not do it without God using you all to sustain me here. Much love….

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Least of These

Polio Camp, Magbentae
Nestled in the stony hills of Makeni, Sierra Leone there lies an encampment of polio victims that live and work together. Society considers them to be outcasts and beggars, yet they have banded together to support each other amidst their harsh conditions. There is a man named Edward Kargbo who has a heart and calling to reach out to these people in this camp. He is their Pastor and has recently moved to Makeni to shepherd those seeking to walk the path of Jesus.

Our first class began this week in Makeni at this polio camp in Magbentae. I have a total of thirteen students, many of whom are polio victims. Today we learned that “Knowledge is More Important than Medicine”. We began with the Bible story of creation and ended with a lesson on disease prevention. It was a wonderful time and it was great to see the interest the class has in both the Bible and Community Health materials.

I met Pastor Edward in 2011 when I worked with Mercy Ships. I believe this encounter was not by accident because he has been the link that has allowed me to begin teaching in Makeni. He has welcomed me as a brother into their church and I even have had a chance to preach there. I admire him for his passion for Christ, his commitment to the Word of God and for his love for the broken and sick.

Our Class
Two class members prepared a skit for us as a discussion point. We had many questions and wonderful in-depth discussions. My prayer is that a leader from this class will emerge as an indigenous teacher that will continue to teach the holistic message of the Tree of Life ministry.

Please continue to pray for these students and for me as I teach them. Pray that God would raise up a leader among the group that will be genuine, mature and committed to reaching his/her country for the sake Christ. You all are a blessing and I could not be here were it not for your encouragement and support. I love you all and ask that even in the midst of this celebration, evil powers are working to thwart the mission. Pray that God would guide, guard and remove those threats to His kingdom work.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tree of Life Graduation 2013

Presentation of Certificates

 My heart is full of joy today after celebrating the first Tree of Life graduation in Sierra Leone. After six weeks of intensive training in community health, moringa management and Bible study, nine graduates received their certificates of completion today. It was a wonderful time and I am so proud of the effort that went into planning the event.

Pastor Emmanuel, the instructor, and the students planned and prepared everything for the celebration. It was wonderful to see how they pooled their resources, gifts and talents to make a wonderful event a success. That is something we are trying to instill in our students. We want them to see that they have the power to solve problems themselves and that should work together as a community for the common goal of the group. They executed this principle beautifully today.

Students' Skit on Hygiene
Head Table and Speakers
We met together and about fifty people attended the ceremony apart from the students. One of the students catered the event and provided African couscous and chicken. The students pitched in to buy soft drinks for all the guests. We had the ceremony at the Hope Center in Jui, Freetown thanks to the generosity of GCPN. We even had a dance group come in for some entertainment. The students also performed a health skit teaching the crowd the importance of good hand washing skills and how to manage dehydration.

The entire graduating class!
Again, I cannot tell you how full my heart is to see the success of this ministry so early on. I was thrilled to hear testimonies from the students on how they are sharing their new-found knowledge with their families and neighbours  I was able to share with them a challenge and that was to take this blessing of education and go share it with the world. The theme for their class rang out as they said it together, “Live it, and go share it!” What an appropriate and powerful message. It is my prayer that they will go and share the Gospel and this new education with the world! To God be the glory for it all…

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year & New Beginnings

The past three months I have been home in Georgia have swept by like a whirlwind. The hustle and bustle of the holidays combined with quality family time has been a healing balm to my soul. Before coming home, many challenges met me in Sierra Leone. Through the last few months of being home, I can honestly say that God has done a wonder in my own heart and has restored my joy and drive to return to Sierra Leone to the work He has called me to do.

Many claim the theology which supports that life for a follower of Christ is easy and breezy. However, through my own study and personal experience, I can assure you that the opposite is in fact is often true. Suffering is a given on the Road of Discipleship. It is how we interpret this suffering that reveals our true identity and character. Some allow suffering to utterly destroy them and roots of bitterness begin to take hold in their hearts. Some blame God and run in the opposite direction of faith. But today I want to testify that we, as followers of Christ, must embrace suffering and not fear it. We can list many fathers of the faith that faced trials, tribulations and even death for the sake of the Gospel.

I am convinced that this suffering is a blessing in disguise. It is the tool in our lives that alerts us to the fact that we need a Divine Being, God, to hold us and sustain us and something that ultimately projects the glory of God to a darkened world. I am learning that these times of suffering, though difficult, are sweet times that draw me closer to the One I need most...Christ. In this New Year, I would like to challenge you and myself. Let our trials bear fruits of faithfulness, refined character and utter dependence upon God. Let suffering push us into the loving arms of our Father who longs to bestow love and mercy on us in our greatest times of need. Let those who remain in darkness watch the steadiness of our faith and long for the same assurance in their own lives. I love you all and am thankful for all of your prayers, gifts and encouragement during this time.

I will return to Sierra Leone on January the 8th. We will be having the first Tree of Life graduation on January the 12th. Our new Tree of Life ministry in Makeni will also begin in the coming months. Please continue to remember us in your prayers and to advocate to your friends and churches on our behalf. Also, please visit our new Tree of Life website at May God bless you all! Love God, love people.