Tim wrote this for our church newsletter on Sunday, and I thought it worth repeating:
Today we have reached the end of our Sierra Leone adventure and arrived back at Heathrow at 6.30 this morning – far too early in the morning to make a coherent write up of the trip but for that the blog will give a great flavour of the fortnight. Next Sunday morning we hope to be able to share some of the things we have seen and learned.
One thing I have learned that I think is good for us and the people of Sierra Leone is the importance of hope – without hope we will pass by others in need, we will hide away like Gideon in the winepress (yes, I did talk a lot about Gideon while we were away!) or like the man by the pool at Siloam, we will accept that things are bad and can never change.
Jesus gave all sorts of people hope for the future – he asked the man at the poolside if he wanted to be well only to be given the reasons why he never could be. Jesus changes lives and just as that man was changed by meeting with Jesus and was made well and able to walk so today situations and people can be transformed by the hope there is in the gospel of Jesus. Paul says that hope is the seed that springs up to produce faith and work and so things are changed. In Sierra Leone we saw great signs of change as people look to God and find in him hope for the future. Here in the UK we often seem to lose hope a bit and need to see again that with God all things are possible and lives can be changed and transformed as people meet with Jesus.
In Sierra Leone we visited a school where the nearest water supply is two miles away and yet we were greeted with joyful songs of praise to God who has blessed them in so many ways. We passed in the car some senior school pupils who get up at 4.30am to walk seven miles to school and when we passed them they waved cheerily as if they were just out for a country stroll. I was touched by that sense of joy and thankfulness among people who have a different set of richness to ours – the richness of those who know that God “has plans for you – plans of good and not evil; plans to give you a future and a hope”
For that I am deeply thankful to the warm, amazing and beautiful people of Sierra Leone.