Sierra Leone
Republic of Sierra Leone
October 7
Africa


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GEOGRAPHY

Area 71,740 sq.km. Small coastal state between Guinea and Liberia.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 4,854,383 +3.00% 68 per sq. km.
2010 6,017,780 +2.15% 84 per sq. km.
2025 8,085,454 +1.86% 113 per sq. km.

Capital Freetown 1,175,000; the city is swollen with refugees. Urbanites 37%.

PEOPLES

West Atlantic(11) 45.3%. Temne 1.3mill.; Limba 380,000; Sherbro(3) 200,000; Fulbe (Fula) 190,000; Kissi 120,000; Krim 20,000; Gola 10,000.

Mande(8) 43.8%. Mende 1.4m; Kuranko 225,000; Kono 176,000; Loko 138,000; Susu 127,000; Maninka 113,000; Yalunka 40,000.

Kwa(3) 1.3%. Bassa 27,000; Kru 10,000.

Krio (Creole) 8.6%.Descendants of released slaves and detribalized urbanites.

Other 1%. Guineans, Liberians, South Asians 5,000; Lebanese 1,500.

Literacy 31%. Official language English. Trade language Krio (Creole) spoken by 10% of the populations as first language and 90% as second. All languages 23. Languages with Scriptures 1Bi 9NT 4por 7w.i.p.

ECONOMY

Rich in natural resources – diamonds, gold, titanium, iron ore, etc. Despite gross mismanagement and corruption, some prosperity until 1991. The descent of the country into anarchy caused the economy to collapse. The control of the diamond fields by rebels ensures the continuance of the conflict. Now probably the poorest and most desperate country on earth. HDI 0.254; 174th/174. Public debt 117% of GNP. Income/person $160 (0.5% of USA).

POLITICS

Founded as a home for freed slaves in 1797. Independent from Britain in 1961. The onset of the Liberian civil war in 1990 triggered the collapse of the government. A series of military coups and guerrilla wars ensued in efforts to control the lucrative diamond fields in the south-eastern part of the country. Only through intervention by Nigeria, the Organization of African States (OAS), UN and the British has conquest by the rebel forces been prevented. Sierra Leone has ceased to function as a viable state and anarchy reigns in much of the country.

RELIGION

Freedom of religion. Islam has steadily increased in influence, but the pervasive power of ethnic religions, the occult, secret societies and Freemasonry underlie the present chaos.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Muslim 70.00 3,398,068 +4.5%
Traditional ethnic 18.24 885,439 -1.8%
Christian 11.72 568,934 +2.9%
Hindu 0.04 1,942 -5.0%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 27 5.40 262 +6.1%
Independent 58 2.68 130 +2.1%
Anglican 1 0.54 26 +0.4%
Catholic 1 2.99 145 +1.3%
Orthodox 1 0.00 0 -8.0%
Marginal 2 0.11 5 +2.2%

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Catholic C 40 84,302 145,000
United Methodist P 230 90,000 110,000
Wesleyan P 180 11,000 28,000
Anglican A 54 13,542 26,000
United Brethren in Christ P 54 6,200 20,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 51 11,597 17,000
National Pentecostal I 25 6,587 11,000
Baptist Convention P 67 6,728 9,000
Assemblies of God P 30 1,200 6,500
Ch of God of Prophecy P 12 1,342 4,000
West Africa Methodist P 17 2,116 4,000
Apostolic P 10 3,000 4,000
Missionary P 45 1,500 3,000
Jehovah's Witnesses M 20 806 2,500
Other denoms [77]   1,100 97,000 178,000
Total Christians [91]   1,939 336,811 569,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 3.2 155 +2.9%
Charismatic 3.3 161 +2.8%
  Pentecostal 1.2 57 +3.7%

Missionaries from Sierra Leone
P,I,A Unknown; an estimated 40.

Missionaries to Sierra Leone
P,I,A Unknown; an estimated 78.



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Answers to Prayer

1 A prayer and reconciliation conference in 2000 drew together 1,200 Christian leaders from nearly all denominations. This represented over 80% of all leaders. There was deep contrition over national sins and the failures of the Church to confront witchcraft, immorality and secret societies within and outside the churches. May this new beginning result in the healing and transformation of the land.

Challenges for Prayer

1 Sierra Leone has become infamous for the barbaric maiming of innocent victims as an instrument for terror and control. Thousands of men, women and children and even babies, have had limbs cruelly amputated. Over 100,000 have been slain. Countless numbers of girls and women have been raped. Thousands of children have been kidnapped, drugged and forced to kill even their own relatives. Nearly the whole population has had experience of being refugees. Pray that all the instigators who, for greed, have unleashed such terror, would be brought to justice and even to repentance and faith in Christ.

2 A battle rages between democracy and dementia. Pray for restoration of government and that this government might be honest, accountable to the people and might establish peace, initiate a process of national reconciliation and build up the shattered economy. Pray that committed Christians may be a vital part of the new leadership.

3 Sierra Leone was the first West African country to be evangelized. The first Protestant Church was started among freed slaves in Freetown in 1785. Yet after over 200 years of effort, under 12% of the country claims to be Christian. Very few denominations have grown significantly in the past 40 years or made a lasting impact on the country. Pray for revival, a spirit of prayer and unity, a strong desire to live for Jesus alone and commitment to holistic outreach to their traumatized fellow-countrymen.

4 The unchallenged power of the occult lies behind all the greed and cruelty, and also the powerlessness of the Church. Many Christians have compromised in this area; nominalism and sin are the result. Pray that these powers may be bound, the influence of secret societies broken and that covenants made with demonic powers may be renounced.

5 Restoration ministries are the great need as the nation and Church struggle to rebuild. Nearly every Christian ministry suffered loss of property and personnel, and many institutions had to shut down. Pray for:

a) The Evangelical Fellowship of Sierra Leone which has become a focal point for cooperation, vision and ministry for many agencies and denominations. It spearheaded vital research on the unreached in the 1990s and is now heavily committed to coordinating various restoration ministries.

b) New vision for compassionate outreach. Freetown is chock full of refugees from all over the country who are living in squalor.

c) Few churches are equipped to cope with the millions of traumatized and impoverished people. Pray for the Holy Spirit to gift and empower many to minister in this area and enable victims to become effective disciples. Pray also for humanitarian aid agencies who seek to alleviate the suffering (WVI, TEAR Fund, and others).

d) Child victims of war. Over 6,000 children were forced to become soldier killers. All are deeply affected psychologically. Many thousands of children lost limbs, homes and families. Pray for all seeking to rehabilitate them. A number of international agencies are seeking to work with Sierra Leoneans in this exacting ministry.

e) AIDS has become a rapidly growing threat. In 2000 over 70,000 were known to be infected and a further 56,000 children orphaned.

6 Young peoples' ministry has never been more crucial and needs to be expanded. SU and YFC have had an impact on the more educated. SLEFES(IFES) has had 29 groups in tertiary institutions but many have been closed down. Pray that Christian graduates may decisively impact the nation.

7 The lack of spiritual and biblically trained leadership has become even more critical. The ministries of the Catholic, Anglican and Methodist Seminaries and the evangelical AoG and Sierra Leone Bible Colleges have all been hampered. Pray for the full resumption of training and the calling of workers for the harvest. The AoG run the ICI-TEE system but this too has been affected.

8 The challenge of the unfinished task. The pride and superiority shown by the Krio 'Christian' population and the continued growth of Islam limited church growth in the tribal hinterland. During the 20th Century Islam grew from 10% to maybe 80% of the population. Nearly every tribe has, to a great extent, been Islamized yet in most there is a growing Christian minority. Pray for renewed vision among Evangelicals for effective outreach to:

a) The partially evangelized Temne, Mende, Yalunka, Kuranko and Loko. Only the Kono of all the tribal peoples are over 10% Christian.

b) The Muslim Fulbe, Susu, Malinke and Vai and the more traditional North Kissi, Klao and Bom remain without significant outreach or response.

Pray also that the research work of YWAM and the EFSL begun in the 1990s might be resumed, completed and used to mobilize prayer and strategic outreach.

9 Expatriate missions have ministered for two centuries, but Sierra Leone remains a pioneer field. Missions have had to withdraw most or all of their personnel. Pray for the right strategies for resumption of ministries and for excellent partnering relationships with local Christians and churches. Many workers will be needed for rehabilitation ministries, leadership training and Bible translation. Major agencies involved in ministry: The Missionary Church, Lutheran Bible Translators, Wesleyan Church, United Brethren, United Methodist, AoG, YWAM.

10 Christian support ministries:

a) Bible translation is a continuing need and work is in hand in 7 languages, mainly through the ministry of Lutheran Bible Translators. The Kono NT and other projects have been delayed due to the evacuation of expatriate translators. Pray for resumption and completion of this task.

b) Christian radio. The gap left by the destruction of Radio ELWA (SIM, Liberia) in 1990 has yet to be filled. Pray that regular radio ministry may once more be launched. TWR broadcasts in English 5.5 hours daily from South Africa.

c) Christian literature. CLC has a strategic and well-used bookstore in Freetown. Pray for the ministry of the written page. Pray also for the granting of permits to import literature – these are often hard to obtain, and there are severe shortages of stock; literature and Bibles are prohibitively expensive as a result. The EMA-CLC Book Aid project importing second-hand Christian books is a spiritual lifeline.

d) The JESUS film is in use in 9 languages with a further 5 in preparation. It has been seen by almost the entire population.

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