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