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.