Lectionary Selection: Luke 5:1-11
Prayers for Sierra Leone:
O creative God, we are amazed by your awesome ability to transform everyday human functions into sacred acts of hope that draw people closer to you while infusing them with your vision of peace, love and justice.
We ask that you inspire us and give us the courage to move past our fears, limitations, and frustrations that we may trust you with our whole lives and become fishers of people.
Today we pray for our families in Sierra Leone as they continue to strengthen their country and fight for the rights of women and girls. Assist all of us in letting go of troublesome societal norms so we can follow you whole-heartedly, knowing that you will make our lives meaningful and productive. We pray for strength to those who advocate for equality, so all may have long-term, transformational impact.
In the name of our loving and transforming Savior we pray, Amen.
Mission Stewardship Moment from Sierra Leone:
Luke 5:1-11 shows us how God calls ordinary people, just as they are, to invest their lives in God’s mission. The passage reveals how Jesus encounters us in our normal everyday routines and changes everything, transforming us to be fishers of people.
The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone aims to defend and protect girls’ rights to education, health, and futures. I’ve been assigned to the Council’s program in the Tonkolili District to assist in efforts to reduce the occurrences of childhood marriage, teenage pregnancy, and female genital mutilation (FGM). We do this by establishing Safe Centers and Boys and Girls clubs throughout 75 communities in Tonkolili District.
Our Safe Centers are designed for girls ages 10-14 and 15-19. They provide a space of refuge, creativity and dialogue. Leading the safe centers are mentors who we hire to meet with the girls several times a week to give guidance and support. The value of the mentors is that they are able to relate to girls living in their respective communities. They are typically young women who have experienced many of issues and realities that the girls have gone through and want to be a voice for girls whose voices are often silenced.
Our mentors have lived through the painful realities of childhood marriage, early pregnancies and FGM and want to educate and prepare girls to avoid getting trapped by such predicaments. These women boldly make themselves vulnerable by telling their stories. They expose their secrets, failures, fears, and regrets, as discomforting as they may be, to improve the quality of lives for the upcoming generation. These mentors are inspirational and are some of the strongest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.
For these women to speak against culturally sensitive issues, particularly female genital mutilation as it is commonly performed (90% of women aged 15-49), is to go against societal norms. As they do this, they risk both reputation and safety all in their courageous efforts to protect and value girls.
These courageous leaders put their trust and faith in Jesus to step out of their comfort zones and follow him. Exactly how they were with no preparation, these women were called to redirect their priorities to coordinate with God’s plan to be of service.
We are all called to use our gifts and experiences to be of assistance and share compassion to others. Jesus’ message to Simon Peter was to “not be afraid.” We all must trust and allow God to use us to generate long-term, transformational impact. The mentors in Tonkolili District have encouraged me to not be ashamed of my short-comings and regrets so that I am able to use these experiences to guide and lift others.
Last month, I gathered 10 safe centers from different communities to participate in 5k walk/jog through the town of Magburaka, which is the largest town in Tonkolili District. During this event we shared our message of ending childhood marriage, teenage pregnancies, and female genital mutilation through songs, chants, and posters that the girls held during our journey. This was an upbeat, joyous event on an early Saturday morning that gave the girls most affected by these actions the opportunity to publicly vocalize their beliefs. The confidence that the girls displayed during this event is credited to the women before them who live as fearless advocates for girls. Like those before them, today’s advocates were willing and able to spread their message of awareness to others.
They are fishers of people. Let us all strive to be fishers of people whatever our context may be.
Prayer and Mission Moment by Nia Sullivan
Mission Partners in Sierra Leone:
More information on Sierra Leone: https://www.globalministries.org/sierra_leone
Global Ministries Mission Co-worker in Sierra Leone:
Nia Sullivan serves with the Council of Churches, Sierra Leone, Girls Access to Education Program (GATE). Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, WOC, OGHS, and your special gifts.