IAT UK volunteers visit to IAT Sierra Leone 8 to 18 February 2014

“ Our God is an awesome God

He reigns from heaven above,

With wisdom, power and love,

Our God is an awesome God!”

The words of this song we sang at New Hope Church sum up my experience of visiting International Aid Trust’s New Hope Ministries in Lungi, Sierra Leone.

I am so grateful to God that I have been able to return to Sierra Leone, for all the team of volunteers from Inglewhite Community Church, for the chance to spend time with old friends and new, to witness IAT Sierra Leone being the hands and feet of Jesus and to see their ministry is truly bringing New Hope to people in need!

Rev Michael Fofanah (IAT country director) and his wife Alice (headteacher of New Hope School) looked after us very well during our visit, they were so kind and understanding having put a lot of effort in before our visit; planning, arranging accommodation and preparing local people for activities that would take place, during our stay.  They did so much to make our visit run smoothly; translating, helping us to understand local situations, transporting us about and cooking for us amongst many other things. It’s so easy to see Jesus living in them both, reflected in their compassionate love for the children of New Hope School and the needy people around them.

IAT Sierra Leone Staff and Volunteers made us feel truly welcome! So many people came to the airport to welcome us and throughout our visit included us in everything and made a great effort to talk to us, even those who struggled with English. The teachers supported us really well in teaching lessons and other activities, were keen to learn new skills and gave very freely of their time outside of their working day. Children from New Hope School, their parents and members of the Church community were also very welcoming and we were treated to a lot of fantastic singing and dancing.

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During our visit we were all involved in a number of different activities, these included; working alongside New Hope School’s Mothers club to start a community vegetable garden and make jewellery, teaching lessons in Music, Art and Sport, organising medical supplies, visiting the government hospital, visiting an amputees village and offering massage to the amputees, visiting homes in the local community, evangelism at Gbenty Bolloh, taking part in Church services and helping to administer communion and lead worship, attending baptisms in the sea and a Christian leadership conference.

The team included a wide variety of different gifts, interests and characters, this meant we were able to support and help develop a variety of projects at the same time and so get to know more people and support each other in different ways.  In the UK, in our own home environment we can often do so much in our own strength, being in a very different culture and sometimes feeling like we had little to offer helped us to rely on God’s strength and to pray for people who we couldn’t help in any practical way and trust in God’s love and provide for them. It was great to see people in the team learning for themselves about the local culture and the difficulties people faced, to hear them talking about what projects they could support when they returned home and how.

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 It is so wonderful to be part of the global Church, to know we are all part of the body of Christ and to see Him working in the hearts and lives of the people of Sierra Leone. A huge thank you once more to IAT- SL.

If you would like more information about the work of International Aid trust in Sierra Leone or if you are interested in joining a future volunteer team, please contact me: email: julie@internationalaidtrust.org.uk

Julie Rowlandson