Have you seen the white man?
I was ‘up country’ in the mountain region of Sierra Leone.
It is a country I love and have many friends who live there. It is also a country that suffered from many years of civil war and insurrection. The people suffered terrible atrocities at the hands of ‘rebels’ who maimed and killed many people regardless of age and gender. More recently it was visited by Ebola, that killer of people, striking mysteriously and suddenly.
‘Up country’ is where the people remain agricultural hunter gatherers. Where the bush is dense and small thatched huts are hidden next to little plantations. People are busy with day to day living that does not seem to have changed for generations. Villages appear from out of the density of the bush and there is both wariness and smiles when strangers appear. It is hard to believe that only a few years ago the rural people ran on mass to the cities to find shelter from the ‘rebels’ who controlled the countryside.
I work in supporting Maranatha Ministries building schools and churches. On one occasion I was visiting Pastor Oliver, he had returned to the house he abandoned and was making a new life for himself his wife and children. Pastor Oliver lives in Simbec; he is part of the church of Maranatha sharing Gods word and living out his faith ‘up country’. My visit was to encourage and share in a small evangelistic event.
Whilst I was there I was interrupted by Pastor Theo arriving (the senior Pastor) who had been looking for me, I had wandered off without explaining where I was going. After sharing our greetings I asked Pastor Theo, ‘How did you find me?’ It was easy he said, I just asked people, ‘Have you seen the white man,’ and they pointed the way.
Now there is the clue. I’m white and Sierra Leone is not. And ‘up country’ it is very, very rare to see white people. Unknowingly I had left a trail and Pastor Theo followed it. So why was I ‘up country?’ I had been invited to share in spreading the gospel message to rural folks in Simbec where Pastor Oliver lived.
He has a small church which meets in a clearing in the bush, a cathedral under the trees, he had asked me to go and share with him and the local people. My being there was a great attraction; it brought people from near and far, some folks walked for three days to come to this place; to see the white man! What I didn’t know was that Pastor Oliver had told the people of Simbec that one day a white man would come to the village and talk about God. As the years passed so he maintained his promise, and now it had become true. The white man had arrived. This was a profound moment; the people could trust the word of the Pastor. It was a very important moment for Pastor Oliver and the people of the village and the local area. The Pastor kept his word, his promise. It appears that I helped keep a promise; and I also unknowingly left a trail that could be followed.
In the New Testament people came from far and near to see and hear Jesus, he left a trail that can be followed. And more importantly promises were made and kept. The challenge for me was not so much what I was doing in Sierra Leonne, but am I doing the same thing here in Great Britain? Is there a trail to follow and am I helping to keep a promise?
How about you?
Image Credit: Diego Santos