Last month I had the privilege of leading an extraordinary team of design professionals from America and Africa to continue EMI’s design work for the FIRST STEP Special Economic Zone near Freetown, Sierra Leone. The team of architects and engineers worked for nine days in country developing plans for two special economic zones in Sierra Leone.
I appreciate the way that FIRST STEP ministers to the people of Sierra Leone by empowering them to participate in international industries that lease land from FIRST STEP in partnership with the government. As the felt need of a job is met, people are more receptive to the good news of abundant life in Jesus through acceptance of His sacrifice and Lordship. Currently the Africa Felix juice concentrate production plant occupies the site and employs dozens of locals. Several additional industries ranging from mineral refining to jewelry and textile production are planning to move into the country because of the special economic zone.
God gave me opportunity to share my testimony with Claudio, the European owner of this juice plant as we discussed the work of EMI around the globe and our motivation through Christ’s love. I also met and talked with several of the nationals who work for FIRST STEP as they had a special parade and celebration to commemorate the successful work over the past couple years.
This EMI team was a joy to lead. God worked powerfully through and to us, as we designed and as we exalted Jesus. One unexpected way that God worked through us by His grace was to the family who owned the motel where we stayed in Waterloo. Claudio had spent time there before, and he told us that the people never smiled and always seemed depressed. We had a much different experience, as we saw them smile back at us and engage in conversation. After our time of devotions and worship singing one morning, the owner’s wife Elizabeth asked me if she could have a copy of the lyrics to the songs we had been singing. I gladly gave her a copy of our worship lyrics, and I pray that God continues to touch her through the words that lift up the name of Jesus.
In sickness and in health, this team was a testimony of God’s grace to provide the needed strength and more. The Lord taught the less experienced volunteers and interns that their contributions were valuable because His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). One young volunteer shared that he was also encouraged to live out his faith even more intentionally (Romans 12:2). Our South African volunteer shared perspective on the body of Christ as the answer for the world, and he is asking God for wisdom on how he can step in as a bridge, connecting people to resources. The Ghanaian volunteer praised God for healing his pain due to previous surgery during our trip, and he endeavors to continue using his professional abilities to help people, loving them with the love of God.
God is at work in Sierra Leone, and I look forward to walking alongside nationals in the work He has planned ahead. This trip provided a glimpse of what is to come, and I believe many more will turn to Jesus because He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Thanks for praying with me for these people that God loves. May Sierra Leoneans rise and reflect the light of Jesus to regions of West Africa!
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.