The nation now moves forward, away from its tragic recent history. Thank God for the end of 11 years of chaos that claimed up to 100,000 lives, crippled many thousands, and harmed most of the population in some way. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission helped former fighters return to their communities and start again. The Ebola crisis of 2014-2015 set back nation-building progress significantly. Christian agencies work to rebuild the country and minister to spiritual, physical, and psychological needs.
Sierra Leone remains a land of suffering. The people are still mired in desperate poverty, most surviving on less than a dollar a day. It has ranked as the world's poorest country for most of the last 10 years. With the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world and widespread disease (malaria, HIV, others), life expectancy is age 47 and not rising. Much work remains to ease the suffering of these who have already endured so much. Pray for more attention from the worldwide community - especially from Christians - to address these needs.
Secret societies and their occult influence shape the country profoundly. This spiritual evil lies behind the greed and cruelty of Sierra Leone's darkest times, and is now at the heart of spiritual and social opposition to education, anti-corruption measures and the empowerment of women. Many Christians compromised their spiritual purity, resulting in the disempowerment of the Church. Pray that these dark powers may be bound and the influence of secret societies broken. Pray that Christians will live lives of faith, depending on Jesus alone for provision, protection and power.
Effective Christian ministry is crucial for a Church and a nation with many pressing needs. Rebuilding and restoring people, congregations, buildings and organizations will require great commitment, wisdom and generosity.
The lack of spiritual and biblically trained leadership is critical; disruption from the conflict crippled theological education. Seminaries and colleges are run by Catholics, Anglicans and Methodists (Sierra Leone Theological College), Wesleyans and Baptists (The Evangelical College of Theology), AoG, Nazarenes and others such as the Travelling Bible School (UFM) and Bible Training Centers for Pastors. Many pastors lack even a secondary school education, let alone formalized theological degrees. Beyond theology, pastors need to be equipped in counselling, spiritual warfare and ministry to the poor and disabled. Finances and even educational resources are in short supply. Pray for the provision of staff, students, books, facilities and operation expenses for this most strategic of needs.
Young people's ministry has never been more crucial and needs to be expanded. SU and YFC impact the more educated. SLEFES(IFES) has 34 groups with over 3,500 students served by nine full-time staff. Pray that Christian graduates may decisively impact the nation. Beyond student ministry, many children remain in difficult situations. Rainbows of Hope and other ministries work with youth prisons, children of prostitutes, disabled children and other groups of children at risk.
Former child soldiers. Over 10,000 fought in the conflict, enduring as well as inflicting much suffering. The stigma associated with this role makes their reintegration very difficult. As they grow into men, they remain troubled and troublesome, knowing no life other than one of crime and violence. Pray for ministries that will reach out to these and provide opportunities for them to live whole and wholesome lives.
The Muslim peoples. During the 20th Century, Islam grew from 10% to over 60% of the population. Islam's recent increase in influence is in part thanks to UN peacekeeping forces. Troops from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India erected mosques wherever they were stationed. Other Muslim countries sent missionaries to further Islamize the nation. Islam and Christianity enjoyed peaceful relations until now. Pray that Christian witness to Muslims might be clear and bold, but be done with sensitivity and humility. The Fula Jalon, Krio Fulani, Mandingo, Susu, Temne-Banta, Vai and Yalunka are the least reached, but this is being addressed by a number of agencies working with these groups in neighbouring countries.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.