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Shoe Bag Reminder!

A reminder that there is only a month and a bit to go before the next shipment of donations to Sierra Leone in September.

Shoe bags are put together every year by Connexion church member volunteers from all over the UK and sent to the children at our churches, schools and Bethesda Orphanage in time for Christmas. Receipt of these shoe bags is one of the highlights of the year for many of our children in Sierra Leone, with each bag containing treats of useful and practical items, small items of clothing, books and toys. (Typical contents are listed below.)

We are extremely thankful for all donations towards the bags and pray that 2024 will bring another opportunity to make some of the poorest children in Sierra Leone very happy indeed!

Following her recent trip to Sierra Leone, Janet O'Shea is also appealing for additional items that are in short supply:  eg medical goods, tools and acrylic paints for the new Health Centre and our Connexion schools. It would be wonderful if these could be included in the September shipment.

Since Janet's return to the UK she has remained in close contact with Rev Dr Warren Fornah, who is the Principal of The Evangelical College of Theology. Janet is delighted that SLM have been able to secure more than 10 boxes of Bible study books for his library at the College, but asks If anyone has 'good' Christian books that would be beneficial to the college students to please box them up for the shipment. Each box of books should be labelled as TECT, to aid sorting on arrival in Sierra Leone.

As soon as the exact date is secured for the shipment we will advise you. In the meantime, please get gathering for this brilliant cause!

If you'd like more information, just get in touch with one of our Connexion churches, who will be very happy to help you. Click on this link for a list of church locations.

 shoebags 2023 1Typical shoe bag content

 2 x face cloths
 2 x soaps
 2 x toothpaste
 2 x toothbrush
 2 x writing pencils
 2 x pens
 2 x exercise books
 coloured pencils
 ruler 
 rubber and pencil sharpener
 2 x toys
 water bottle
 either T-shirt and shorts
 or pants and vest (boys)
 or dress and pants (girls)

 

Turning of the Sod

Read below an account by Bethany Burrage from her recent trip to Sierra Leone with Janet O'Shea and Simon Allaby:

The Turning of the Sod

None of us had ever been to a 'Turning of the Sod' service and we were fascinated to learn what it would entail.

The full title was, 'Connexional Women’s Fellowship Annual Outreach/Harvest Thanksgiving Service and Turning of the Sod at Grooves Memorial Church, Magbafti'. The main aim was to include the launch of a new initiative by the Women’s Fellowship to which many of the women from the surrounding churches had been invited. Janet and I asked Magnus if we could squeeze the two girls from Bethesda (both called Adima) into the car with us for the short journey so they could join us for the special service.

We arrived on time to discover that the marque providers had only just turned up to erect the gazebos. Thus the 11am service did not begin until 12.30pm. But when it did, it started with a wonderful selection of old hymns and gospel choruses all sung acapella. Sierra Leone worship is a wonderful experience to which everyone participates with great passion and joy and we loved it!

The new project is ambitious. The Women’s Fellowship have formed the Countess Ladies Agriculture Development Organization (CLADO) to establish a poultry farming operation, including chickens, goats, sheep and cows. The farm will raise live animals for their products that they will then sell, providing jobs and an income for the women who are involved in the collective. They had recently purchased the first acre of land at Magbafti, hence this service of celebration and dedication.

I was asked to speak on the beautiful verse found in Matthew 6:33, 'Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. And all these things will be added unto you.' I admit to being very nervous. Being English I do not know what it is to be need like the majority of Sierra Leonians do on a daily basis and I felt a somewhat of an imposter speaking upon the subject, but after much prayer, I felt the Lord give me a message and a story that was right for the occasion. And as I spoke, I sensed the Spirit of God present and bring understanding to congregation. By the end there were nods of acknowledgement that each one of us faces choices each day to live according to God’s righteousness and if we do He will provide for us.

The service continued with three offerings, and the receiving of pledges of funds for the next stage of the project. Adima and Adima were invited to help with giving ribbon pins to those who donated, and Simon and Janet were asked to reveal the name of the project.

Then we all walked 400m to the area of land that will be used for first poultry building. With worship and many prayers, everyone was invited to lay a shovel of concrete into one of the ditches which would become the foundations for the building. This was the 'Turning of the Sod', and it was a real privilege to be part of an initiative that will bring hope and jobs to so many families.

Prayers for Sierra Leone - July 2024

We ask that you join Rev Amidu Koroma in prayer for the following requests for Sierra Leone.

We thank God for His grace and blessings to see us through the second half of this year 2024.

Please pray for God’s mercy over our family, churches and the people around us.

We pray for the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion in Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom.

Please pray for our leader in Sierra Leone, Bishop Magnus Bendu and for God’s divine direction.

 

We pray for our SLM Chair in the UK, Janet O’Shea, and ask that God will continue to bless and protect her family in Jesus mighty name.

We pray for growth and development in Sierra Leone.

Please pray for all pastors, ministers and teachers in our Connexion. For God’s grace to be sufficient in Jesus’ mighty name.

Please also pray for God’s richest blessings over The Connexion as a whole.

The photo shows children attending a prayer morning at King James School, Sierra Leone

The Other Bolney Church!

Simon Allaby, from Bolney Village Chapel, joined Janet O'Shea and Bethany Burrage for their trip to Sierra Leone. Read Simon's account of the trip below.

The Other Bolney Church!

Back in 2010, on a former trip to Sierra Leone, I arrived in Bolney to learn that a new church had been built with money that had been raised during the rebuilding of Bolney Village Chapel in 2004. Sadly, I was unable to attend the official opening of the church in 2011 but it became a dream of mine to one day visit to the ‘other’ Bolney Church and meet its pastor.

So, fast-forwarding to 2024, I finally have an opportunity to meet Pastor Christopher Dove and visit his church, which is in Bureh Town. Christopher travels some distance to be at the church at weekends and while there is a small Manse next door, but it has no electricity (there is none in the village), no water and no furniture! Since my return, we have at least been pleased to buy him a bed!

 

Bethesda Orphanage 

Opened in 2013 Bethesda provides a home for children who were previously either living on the streets or with parents either unable or unwilling to care for them. It was built with two guest rooms and became our home during our stay. It was such a joy to spend time with a remarkable group of young people and inspiring each evening as they took turns to lead a time of Bible study and prayer.

Over our second weekend seven former Bethesda children, who are now all at university, also came back and we all went for a wonderful trip to the beach – a rare treat for them all!

Connexion Schools

Our 23 Connexion schools provide education for 5,000 children. The challenges are enormous with teachers often poorly qualified and paid, buildings in disrepair and a general shortage of teaching aids. But there are also many signs of hope.

Janet spent six days teaching Class 1 and introducing new teaching methods. During her time there the number of attending children quickly grew from 19  to 56!  After school each day we decorated the walls with colourful teaching aids, and Janet also spent time with the Headteachers, inspiring and challenging them to be the best that they could be.

Conferences and Leadership

While Janet was busy in school, Bethany and I had the privilege of teaching a one-day conference on Leadership, with 50-60 leaders and a 3-day conference on Mission and Evangelism with over 90 attending each day. For the former, Bethany taught on ‘leading from A to B’ and the character of a Godly leader and I taught a session on ‘finishing well’. For the latter, Bethany taught on discipleship and how to be with Jesus and become like him, while I taught on how God’s Kingdom grows, exploring ‘how good is the good news?’ and unpacking the Great Commission.

We hope and pray that those who came were inspired and encouraged in the work God has called them to do. Most are poor and with the inflation rate in Sierra Leone having tripled this year it is harder and harder to make ends meet.

Health Centre

I was also fortunate to visit the new Connexion Health Centre in Brama. With limited options for healthcare, the Health Centre provides a much-needed service to the local community. A new maternity wing is under construction, but completion has been delayed due to the trebling this year of the cost of building materials.

A Glorious Service!

On our last Sunday we were privileged to share in a wonderful service at St Mark’s Cathedral. Reminiscent of Sister Act the service began with a robed choir processing in slowly and singing All Things Bright and Beautiful before later exploding into joyful African worship as the congregation danced their way to the front to make their offering. I almost got vertigo in the pulpit (!) and somehow juggled a microphone and my Bible in the face of a fan which was trying to blow everything away! Women are required to cover their heads for Communion, so Bethany got to wear a very nice hat and Janet a head covering handed out by one of the vergers. All in all, an unforgettable experience.

See a pdf version of Simon's report with a collection of photos taken during the trip.

Sierra Leone Trip 2024

 

Sierra Leone Trip - Janet

Janet, Simon and Bethany are now back in the UK from their trip to Sierra Leone, where they report having an amazing time!  While Simon and Bethany were kept extremely busy preaching, encouraging and leading conferences with nearly 100 delegates, Janet spent time teaching at Foo Foo Water, where her class of 19 pupils quickly grew to 58 children! Read Janet's account of the trip below:

If I'm honest, I found the experience of teaching at Foo Foo exhilarating but also exhausting. Thankfully, the class teacher, Marian, was 'an absolute bonus’, soaking up everything that we did and demonstrating her newly found skills with clear understanding. After the children had gone home, with the help of Simon, Bethany, Marian - and anyone else who could hold a paint brush! - we gradually transformed the classroom walls to create a far more effective, learning environment. 

Meeting with the Headteachers was equally encouraging and challenging, giving them an opportunity to be honest about their situation, within the realistic constraints about how change could happen. It was a valuable time to be serious, but we also made time to have some fun!

One concern, however, that was glaringly apparent is that Foo Foo Water's school building is showing signs of collapse. The community came together to build three classrooms, but the building is not finished (I taught in the middle room). There are no ceilings, there needs to be a veranda, and the building still needs proper doors and windows. The location has plenty of land to build, so thoughts arise for prayers about building a new school for the children - as we did in Tombo.

I very much appreciated working with Simon and Bethany during our period of preparation and during the actual visit to Sierra Leone. I felt that we worked well together as a team; each of us using our different strengths and abilities. With the additional organisational skills of Magnus, and the predominately guidance of God, we were able to forge fresh links between the UK and SL.

Many discussions took place during the trip about how we could make improvements to our supportive work. One issue raised about the forthcoming shipment to Sierra Leone in September, was the need to clearly label all boxes that are contributed, and create a simple inventory to accompany them. In addition, we ask that anything sent for the health centre is labelled as HC.

On previous occasions I've mentioned that the provision of tools would be a great asset to the schools, and during the trip I tried to encourage the Headteachers to ‘roll up their sleeves’ and mend the furniture in their classrooms! To encourage this, we would be very pleased to receive any non-electric tools to add to the shipment.

Also, when we decorate the classrooms we use brightly coloured acrylic paint. This year, between the three of us, we were able to share the weight of transporting the paint to SL. But again, it would be so helpful to include acrylic paints in our shipment so the schools can continue to decorate their classrooms. We have left behind some templates particularly for this purpose.

Finally, please may I thank you for your continuing support for the Sierra Leone Mission, without which we would not be able to help our communities in SL in the way we do.

Thank you!

Janet O'Shea

 

SIERRA LEONE DONATIONS

If you would like to make a donation, to help SLM's work in Sierra Leone, just click on the Donations button, located at the top of each website page. Please also state if you would like your donation to go towards a particular project.

Alternatively donate by Bank Transfer

Barclays Bank

Sort code: 20-16-08, Account number: 30799076, Account name: Sierra Leone Mission 

(NB We are very grateful to receive anonymous donations, but when making a bank transfer donation, the donor's name is needed for auditing purposes. Please be assured this information will remain private.)

Or send a cheque to 

Sierra Leone Mission. Postal address: Janet Foord, 2 Cheyne Close, Church Milton, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10 2SQ

 

Prayer for Fatmata

Fatmata, one of our lovely university students from Bethesda Orphanage, recently fell very ill and collapsed whilst in class. Magnus was able to pay for emergency treatment, after which Fatmata thankfully regained consciousness and became able to talk, eat and walk again. The diagnosis was malaria and typhoid.

Following much prayer from our communinites in Sierra Leone and SLM, we are pleased to report that Fatmata is making a very good recovery. She is much improved and has completely recovered from the emergency situation, now receiving normal treatment for malaria and typhoid.

Fatmata has been greatly helped by her colleagues and a lady who lives in her compound and attends the same church. These friends had already spent money getting her emergency treatment before Magnus stepped in and provided more funds, which covered transport, the initial and ongoing treatment, plus medication.

In addition, Fatmata needs extra provisions to help to increase her energy levels - milk, Ovaltine, sugar, etc. The estimated cost of £87 for this has already been donated, for which we give thanks. 

We would be grateful for your continued prayer for Fatmata’s complete healing and recovery.

Thank you!

 

SIERRA LEONE DONATIONS

If you would like to make a donation, to help SLM's work in Sierra Leone, just click on the Donations button, located at the top of each website page. Please also state if you would like your donation to go towards a particular project.

Alternatively donate by Bank Transfer

Barclays Bank

Sort code: 20-16-08, Account number: 30799076, Account name: Sierra Leone Mission 

(NB We are very grateful to receive anonymous donations, but when making a bank transfer donation, the donor's name is needed for auditing purposes. Please be assured this information will remain private.)

Or send a cheque to 

Sierra Leone Mission. Postal address: Janet Foord, 2 Cheyne Close, Church Milton, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10 2SQ

 

Shoe Bag Appeal!

Every year shoe bags for our children in Sierra Leone are put together by church member volunteers from all over the UK and sent to the children at our churches, schools and Bethesda Orphanage in time for Christmas. This year the shipment will be leaving the UK in September 2024.

Each bag contains donated treats of useful and practical items, small items of clothing, books and toys. Receiving these shoe bags is one of the highlights of the year for many of our children in Sierra Leone.

We are extremely thankful for all donations towards the bags and pray that 2024 will be another a bumper shoe bag year, bringing happy smiles to even more of the poorest children in Sierra Leone!

For more information, please get in touch with one of our Connexion churches. Click on this link for a list of church locations.

 

 

Typical shoe bag items

Hygiene

2 x face cloths
2 x soaps
2 x toothpaste
2 x toothbrush

School

2 x writing pencils
2 x pens
2 x exercise books
coloured pencils
ruler
rubber
pencil sharpener

Personal

2 x toys
water bottle
either T-shirt and shorts
or pants and vest (boys)
or dress and pants (girls)

 

Sierra Leone Trip!

Janet O'Shea, Chair of SLM, has left the UK today for her annual trip to Sierra Leone with Connexion Church Ministers, Bethany Burrage and Simon Allaby.

Plans for the trip will include several days of teaching, classroom observation and interaction with children at Fu Fu Water School.

Their programme will also combine with visits to various Connexion Churches and three days spent attending St Mark's Cathedral, Waterloo for ministerial sessions of training on Evangelism and Discipleship.

I am sure you will wish to join us in prayer for a successful and fruitful trip, and we look forward to receiving updates and some pictures of our communities in Sierra Leone.

Janet, Bethany and Simon will be returning to the UK on 4 June. Below is a PDF of their planned itinerary, if you'd like to follow their activities.

Click here to see the Sierra Leone May/June Trip Itinerary

School Challenges

As Janet O'Shea prepares to visit Sierra Leone this month with Bethany Burrage and Simon Allaby, it is timely to conside the many challenges our schools in Sierra Leone face.

Read below Janet's first-hand account

Teaching has always traditionally been described as a vocation – ‘a strong belief that one ought to pursue a particular career’ (Oxford Dictionary). This is probably true for the majority of UK teachers but in Sierra Leone?

The Sierra Leone Mission (SLM) supports 23 schools and each month a grant is given to 90+ teachers. Many of these teachers are not trained, however some have received Teacher Training and others attend sessions after a day at school. Their day starts at 8am and concludes at 2pm, they receive a quarter of the pay paid to teachers working in Government schools.

Every child deserves a good education

Again, this is probably true for the majority of children in the UK but in Sierra Leone?

The teachers work in overcrowded classrooms, usually sharing a room with up to three other age groups. Resources are very limited with minimal aids available, often a few books and some chalk. The Government of Sierra Leone requires children to attend school. The attendance numbers vary with the seasons, a class of 80 might reduce to 30 depending on the needs of the harvest. Usually, the younger children are in the biggest classes but as the children grow older they are ‘needed’ at home. Over 5000 children attend our schools. In order to learn children need to be comfortable, well-nourished and happy.

Water is essential and a well is deemed a priority by the government. However many wells are broken and no one knows how to mend them. Most of our children are malnourished and hungry; quite often they fall asleep in class.

School buildings in the UK are mostly safe, well maintained, decorated, furnished and inviting. However, in Sierra Leone?

The teachers and children work in classrooms that have poor ventilation, dusty atmospheres, broken furniture and crumbling structure.

SLM Programme

In 2023, the SLM started a programme addressing the state of the school buildings.

Tombo School was so unsafe that it collapsed – thankfully after SLM had been able to provide funding for a new school.

The school children at Fogbo had been meeting in the Church building but a government official would not allow this practice to continue so the village started to build a new school. The SLM helped to fund the roof, windows and doors.

The villages at Kabala and Kamakonthakay did not have schools, so again the villagers built them and the SLM funded the roofs, doors and windows.

However, real problems still exist in some of the schools. Foo Foo Water desperately needs a new build as the school shows signs of collapse.The flooring in many of the schools is a hazard and the ceilings are often non-existent. In addition five of our schools, have a problem that can more easily be solved… termites!

This is the situation.

Continuing in 2024 

Now in 2024 the SLM has already addressed the grant that the teachers receive, increasing it marginally. The SLM would like to continue to improve the schools in Sierra Leone. God has blessed this work in the past and we are confident that what He has started He will complete.

If you have been challenged by this ongoing work, please prayerfully consider helping us to improve the lives of the children and teachers in Sierra Leone.

 

SIERRA LEONE DONATIONS

If you would like to make a donation, to help SLM's work in Sierra Leone, just click on the Donations button, located at the top of each website page. Please also state if you would like your donation to go towards a particular project.

Alternatively donate by Bank Transfer

Barclays Bank

Sort code: 20-16-08, Account number: 30799076, Account name: Sierra Leone Mission 

(NB We are very grateful to receive anonymous donations, but when making a bank transfer donation, the donor's name is needed for auditing purposes. Please be assured this information will remain private.)

Or send a cheque to 

Sierra Leone Mission. Postal address: Janet Foord, 2 Cheyne Close, Church Milton, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10 2SQ

 

Prayers for Sierra Leone - May

Please join Rev Amidu Koroma in prayer for the following requests for Sierra Leone.

We thank God for His sufficient grace and blessings over us to meet each day.

Please pray that God continues to establish our relationship with the UK.

We also pray for the leadership of the Connexion in Sierra Leone. We thank God for Bishop Magnus Bendu and ask God for rich blessings over his life.

Please pray too that God will continue to bless our pastors and teachers in Sierra Leone for the services they render in the Connexion.

We join in prayer for God to continue to give peace and love over country Sierra Leone.

Please pray for our leadership in the UK.  May God continue to bless 'Aunty' Janet O’Shea and her family, and all of the Connexion churches in the UK. 

We pray that God will continue to help us to extend and spread the Gospel to other regions in Sierra Leone.

And we ask the Lord to continue to give us grace to serve him faithfully.

'Lord you promise us that when we ask it shall be given, seek and we shall find, and when we knock the door shall be open to us' (Matthew 7:7). In Jesus' mighty name, Amen.

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