Six million people.
It’s a big number. When I hear it, I don’t see faces.
But God does.
To me, it’s a number that represents a nameless mass.
But not for God.
He sees faces, behind which are personal histories and heartaches, individual predicaments and potentials. He sees actual persons with names. Each one lives in a particular place, wakes up each day, faces their issues and navigates through the obstacles that confront them. And God feels everything each one of them feels. He sees every detail of every experience that has gone into making each of them exactly who they are at this very moment.
Six million people. It’s a big number. When I hear it, I don’t see faces. But God does.
The particular six million people I’m talking about are the inhabitants of Sierra Leone. For most of us, that’s a world away. We have no way of really wrapping our minds around precisely who these people are. But we can know, and do know, that each one is intimately known by God and is of infinite value to Him.
Sierra Leone means Lioness Mountains, a name bestowed by Pedro de Sintra, a Portuguese explorer. Until 1792, this western African country with the third largest natural port in the world, was a major player in the transatlantic slave trade. In March of that year, Freetown was founded by The Sierra Leone Company as a refuge and home for slaves liberated from the British Empire.
This strategically positioned nation is rich in natural resources, especially diamonds, uranium and titanium, which form most of its economic base. And yet—don’t miss this—70% of the people live in poverty because those resources are largely pilfered by foreign greed. Less than 50% of the population has access to safe drinking water. You would think those running off with all the diamonds and uranium would at least invest some of those resources back into the country to supply safe water for the people whose land and labor is enriching them. Directly connected with this severe poverty level, Sierra Leone has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, with approximately 77 children per 1000 live births not living past their first birthday.
We were told that the literature Light Bearers has sent to Zambia over the years… has dramatically increased the literacy rate as well as the general quality of life in Zambia.
One of the most heartbreaking aspects of the country’s profile is that during its most recent Civil War, 1991 to 2002, large numbers of children were enslaved as soldiers and forced to commit horrific atrocities leaving them and their families mentally traumatized. It is estimated that approximately 400,000 of these children, who are now teenagers and young adults, suffer from mental illness.
Sierra Leone is composed of a diverse city of historical indigenous cultures, with 16 distinct ethnic groups, each with its own language. However, due to British colonization, English is the official language of the country. And yet, tragically, two-thirds of the adult population are illiterate. This is largely due to the sheer lack of access to literature of any kind. The people manifest a hunger for knowledge, but they simply do not have reading material. Our experience with other countries, such as Zambia, is that access to reading material dramatically increases literacy rates. Upon visiting Zambia a few years ago, conference leadership informed us that government officials were attending our public meetings because they had a particular fondness for Light Bearers. When we asked why, we were told that the literature Light Bearers has sent to Zambia over the years, numbering in the tens of millions of publications, has not only served to introduce the Zambian people to the gospel of Christ, but has also dramatically increased the literacy rate as well as the general quality of life in Zambia.
Thanks to your support, Light Bearers is meeting this need in Sierra Leone, by supplying reading material of the highest possible character—publications that proclaim the gospel of Christ.
You will be happy to know that we have sent 2,065,899 pieces of truth-filled literature to the precious people of this unique and needy country. The literature will be distributed by the Sierra Leone Mission Conference to local churches and schools to be used for evangelistic campaigns scheduled throughout the country.
On behalf of the people of Sierra Leone, thank you for your prayers and your financial backing, which make what we do possible.
Six million people. God knows each one by name. It is our privilege to share the glory of His name with them.