Revitalizing Galilee’s Mission in Africa

March 9, 2017

Galilee UMC’s senior pastor Jason Duley touches down in Africa this week. Jason is visiting Sierra Leone in the company of Floris UMC’s Tom Berlin and Emma Sharma, the executive director of Helping Children Worldwide. Their plan is to spend time with our friends in the United Methodist Church of Sierra Leone and at the Child Rescue Center and Mercy Hospital. It is Jason’s hope that his visit to Bo, and to the UMC Annual Conference in Freetown, will help build the kind of relationships that can make our church’s foreign missionary endeavors better and more effective.

This is the first time that Jason has been to Africa, though Galilee has sent dozens of missionaries to the Child Rescue Center since it was founded nearly 17 years ago to feed, house, and educate children orphaned by war. Our director of music, Jordan Markwood, is the most recent Galilean to have made the trip. He was at the CRC last summer. 

Pastor Jason Duley, Reverend Tom Berlin, and HCW Executive Director Emma Sharma en route to Sierra Leone

The CRC mission project was born when a pastor from Bo, now Bishop John Yambasu, traveled to the US to solicit help for orphans who were living on the streets of his city. Bishop Yambasu spoke at Floris in Herndon just before Christmas 1999 and received an outpouring of support from that congregation. Floris knew that the job was bigger than any one church, and so they looked for mission partners in our area. Putting the “united” in United Methodists, Galilee joined with Rev. Tom Berlin’s congregation to help create a street feeding program that initially reached and rescued 40 abandoned children. On July 4, 2000, the Child Rescue Center was created to serve these first 40 children. Today, the CRC has grown to include a spectrum of programs serving nearly 500 extremely vulnerable children and youth, helping them escape the vicious cycle of poverty to develop their full potential.

Bishop John Yambasu with a first time computer user, checking out recently donated laptops.

In 2003, the nonprofit organization Helping Children Worldwide was formed to provide financial and strategic support to the Child Rescue Centre. HCW coordinates with sixteen churches in Virginia, Texas, South Carolina and Massachusetts to financially support the Child Rescue Centre and advocate for children and families affected by poverty, conflict, and disease.

Our support has paid amazing dividends. We’ve watched as these children—many of them names and photos on our Christmas Mission Tree—have grown from scared and hungry kids to successful leaders in their city. We haven’t just fed children; we’ve helped raise the next generation of doctors, lawyers, and scientists. Our teams have visited Bo, and Bo’s children have come to Sterling to give us messages of hope and thanks in the sanctuary of Galilee.

Johannes Baun, Rose Saffa and CRC Director Mohamed Nabieu were educated at the Child Rescue Center and now give back by working there.

As the mission of the Child Rescue Centre expanded, the need for quality medical care in Sierra Leone became increasingly apparent—and HCW’s partner churches were in a position to do something about it.  In 2007, Mercy Hospital opened its doors to provide care to all the people of Bo, regardless of their ability to pay for treatment. Today, Mercy Hospital provides services to more than 10,000 patients each year. Mercy Hospital supports community health initiatives including Ebola, malaria, HIV/AIDS diagnosis and treatment, pre- and post-natal care, and child nutrition, with a special focus on maternal and infant survival. 

The United Methodist church was and remains on the front line in response to Ebola.

Pastor Jason and the team will spend their first two days in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. There they will attend Annual Conference for the Sierra Leone district and learn about the needs of West Africa’s people and churches on the macro level. From there, they will travel to Bo to stay on the grounds at the CRC for several days. Jason , Tom, and Emma will meet the kids we support and the volunteers and staff who are the hands and feet of Christ for these children and for the wider community. They’ll witness the good work at Mercy Hospital, too, and examine the challenges to adequate medical care in the region.

Please pray for Pastor Jason and Tom and Emma, and for their families while they are away. We hope and trust that by making this journey, our team will bring the joys and challenges that they see back to us. Thus God brings Christians all around the world closer together in love.