By His grace, we enjoyed a profitable trip to Freetown, Sierra Leone. I am grateful for the part you played in making this trip possible. Indeed it was OUR trip. I was joined by Steve Niemeier (Greenwood,
Indiana) and Justin Monts (Glasgow, Kentucky). I was blessed to have such wonderful traveling and teaching companions. They were a blessing to me.
The purpose of our studies was not to convert people, but to strengthen those who had obeyed the Gospel and those who had been Christians for some time. There were things that were not as they
should have been and we hoped to get these things set in order. However, 19 souls responded to the call of the Gospel and were baptized into Christ. Among those 19 were a law school student, a
former Pentecostal, a neighbor of a member and others whose backgrounds I do not know as well. I rejoice that God gave this increase to His kingdom!
One of our main purposes was to confront the vestiges of institutionalism that had been engrained in these churches for over 20 years. For the most part, they had not considered these issues and
accepted them without investigation. After all, that is how white men had told them to do things and how white men had helped them get organized. Last spring Bro. Mike Willis and I had opportunity to introduce those issues and do some teaching on them. Last fall, the group led by Steve Niemeier addressed them more completely. This spring the brethren in Freetown were ready to face them head on and make changes. Bro. Justin Monts, who had come out an institutional background, took the lead in these studies and did a marvelous job. He has talent and wisdom well beyond his years. Steve Niemeier and I spoke on conversion and the church in prophecy, but worked the institutional issues into each of our studies.
As a result of these studies, the church at Priscilla Street has taken a stand against institutionalism and they are taking the lead in opposing it. They are paying a price for their stand for truth. Many of their brethren who refused to renounce institutionalism have instead rejected them. It was clean that a division was taking place; a division because some stood for truth and others choose to compromise it. Tengbeh Town, the largest congregation in Freetown, is divided. They have two preachers and these men are on opposite sides of the institutional issue. Time will reveal who chooses to stand and
who chooses to compromise. I fear that further division is coming. The young church at Wellington appears to be doing good. John Kabul, who preaches there, is a solid man who makes up for what he does not know with diligent study. I have great confidence in Bro. Kabul and know that he will strive diligently to seek the path of peace and truth.
The church at Priscilla Street enjoys the leadership of two exceptional men – Bro. Christian Asgill and Bro. Theophilus Kartuche. Both of these men gave two lectures. Christian spoke of the letter to the Ephesians and Theophilus the book of Colossians. Their lectures were well researched, prepared and delivered. These men have been the object of much malicious gossip because they have been
outspoken in opposing error. But, they have their feet firmly planted in truth and will not yield for a moment. Much of the future of the church in Sierra Leone rests upon their shoulders.
One picture tells the story of this trip. About one block from the Priscilla Street building was a sign advertising the “James E. Howell School – a church of Christ related institution.” By the time we left the sign had been changed. They could not afford to have a new sign printed, so they took black paint and painted over the “church or Christ related institution” portion of the sign. That was a small victory but a significant victory.
James Faiya came from the far eastern village of Kaihluhn to attend our classes. He had borrowed the money to take a bus part of the way from his village to Freetown. He preaches in his village and was
fascinated by what was being taught. He pleaded and pleaded for us to come to his village on our next trip. He gives evidence of an ever-opening door for the Gospel in Sierra Leone. Bro. Phil Morgan and
groups he has led to the city of Bo have experienced similar invitations. Indeed the harvest is ready and ripe.
At the beginning of every service the brethren hear the “leader” say “God is good,” to which they repeat, “all the time.” Then the people say, “All the time, God is good.” Indeed we have lived
out the goodness of God as we witnessed souls committing themselves to the Gospel and brethren committing themselves to the practice of truth. May God be praised!