August 20, 2020
By Pastor Jason Duley
The news of the sudden death of Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone gives me pause to reflect on the positive difference he made in the world and in our church.
The CRC (Child Reintegration Center), which Galilee has supported for twenty years, was John Yambasu’s idea. As a youth minister working in war-torn Sierra Leone, he dedicated himself—and through this work he dedicated us—to saving children in the city of Bo who had lost their parents and been displaced by conflict.
More than a thousand children have been housed and educated by the CRC. Galilee members have sponsored approximately seventy of these students, contributing about $350,000 since 2008. We have helped to raise up the next generation of Sierra Leone men and women who have become doctors, lawyers, engineers, and social workers.
We currently sponsor 36 students. One of these—who knows—could be the next John Yambasu.
I met Bishop Yambasu when I traveled to Africa in 2017. It was my first trip to that incredible continent and I was blessed to be the bishop’s guest at a dinner on the ocean front in Freetown in Sierra Leone. He and his wife, Millicent, were so loving and welcoming to me, assisting me in understanding their culture and their country.
I was further honored to travel with the bishop. The recognition and reception that we enjoyed wherever we went spoke to the esteem that Bishop Yambasu was held in throughout the country. It seems that not only did everyone know him, they also loved him.
We were welcomed in the capitol, into secure buildings for face-to-face meetings with government officials including the secretary of health for discussion of our partnership with Mercy Hospital and opportunities to improve healthcare in Sierra Leone. I was able to see for myself miracles that Bishop John engendered when I saw the doctors and workers at Mercy Hospital move out into the region surrounding Bo. They have brought mobile medical care to 17,000 patients a year in some of the more remote villages of Africa.
Pastor Jason Duley and Bishop John Yambasu in 2017.
At one point in our journey together, I asked Bishop Yambasu to take a photo with me to show my congregation back home (the bishop has preached in Galilee’s sanctuary before, while visiting partner churches in the USA). He smiled for the photo with me, but then asked me a very pointed question. He said, “Jason, how do you like Sierra Leone?” I said I loved it. Then putting his hand on my shoulder, he asked even more directly, “Do you think you will return here to help?”
I told him I would…though I did not manage to so in time to prove it to my friend John. I hope to return to Sierra Leone before much longer and bring some helping hands with me, who can contribute to the incredible, ongoing Christian work that John Yambasu began.
Galilee works with Helping Children Worldwide to support Mercy Hospital and the CRC. If you’d like to sponsor a child at the CRC, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll tell you how.