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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