The Sun is Setting on our Time in Sierra Leone

(Monday, Feb 19) Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement, as the sun begins to set on our time in Sierra Leone. In approximately two hours, Tom and I will be on our way to 1st Presbyterian Church for our final time of instruction with the church leaders and members who attend. Today is Armed Forces Day in Sierra Leone, so most of the people have the day off, providing us the opportunity to meet earlier than most other days.  

Our plan is that I will provide additional instruction on how to communicate the Gospel from every text of Scripture. This is an area for important growth for our friends in PCSL, and they have been receptive to our encouragement and teaching. In addition, Tom will teach on the scope of Christ’s mission for the church from Acts 1:8.

Weekend Update

On Saturday (Feb 17), we participated in a presbtery meeting, which marked nearly one year since their moderator and clerk were elected. These men were re-elected to serve a second one-year term, which is the first such election in the history of PCSL. These are important milestones, as they seek the Lord’s revitalizing work in and through the churches in Sierra Leone. 

Yesterday, Tom took multiple kekeh rides (a cross between a motorcycle and a golf cart) to the newest church of PCSL in the town of Kissy. He had the privilege of preaching to that small and growing congregation and providing encouragement to their pastor, Jonathan, who is hoping to be ordained in the near future. Meanwhile, I worshiped again with 1st Presbyterian Church, praying a blessing over the children from Psalm 139 and pronouncing the benediction. When I arrived, I was informed I would be presiding over the restoration of a church member who had been disciplined for public sin, so I took a few minutes to prepare, pulling together Scriptures from Hebrews 12, 2 Corinthians 7 and 2 Corinthians 2. However, after one of the elders preached an excellent message on elders as shepherds, he turned to me and said, “the individual to be restored has not shown today.” It was another exercise in being ready in season and out of season, in addition to the need to be flexible in an ever-changing environment.

God continues to give Tom and I opportunities to share the gospel. As Jeff Wiggs shared yesterday, our housekeeper, H, asked me if I prayed for him while at church that morning. He is from a Muslim background, but has demonstrated interest in learning more about Jesus. I asked if I could pray in Jesus name for him right there, and he was very happy for me to do that. Later in the day, Tom was able to share the gospel with three Kenyan men who were sitting next to us at dinner. Tom has been to Kenya and recognized they were speaking in Swahili. The Lord then opened the door for him to share the good news of Jesus. Please pray the Lord will work through these gospel opportunities to draw people to Himself.

Thanks from the Churches in PCSL

Your gifts continue to be a great blessing to the churches here. Thank you for your loving generosity to bless brothers and sisters in Christ of all ages. Your gifts have been a source of great joy, as they give thanks to God for His kindness. Here are a few videos of thanks and a video of worship:

Prayer Requests

  • Please pray for stamina and clarity during our last day of teaching.
  • Please pray for continued gospel opportunities and boldness to share the good news.
  • Please pray for our brothers and sisters of PCSL to continue to grow in Christ’s love and move forward in His power on His mission in Sierra Leone.

Photos Attached

(1) Worship Team at 1st Presbyterian Church; (2) Elders Osse Kamara and Lati Roberts after receiving gifts commemorating their renewal as moderator and clerk, respectively, of PCSL; (3) just before sunset from our hotel in Freetown.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all soon. You remain in my prayers, and I am truly grateful for your gospel partnership.

In Christ,
Pastor Nate

Grace at Rainy Season Orphanage

Last night (Feb 15), I had the opportunity to teach a class of about 25 students on the subject of Worship in the Church. I continue to be impressed by the eager participation of the church leaders and members who come out each evening after a long day of work, many without air conditioning in heat index temperatures of well over 100° (F). Some of the students travel over two hours by public transportation each way, while living with very little income and very little food. In the midst of the challenges of daily living, they are excited to gather and hear God’s Word taught, that they may understand and more faithfully lead their congregations and respective ministries. I have been humbled by the hunger of people both inside and outside of the church to devour the food that leads to eternal life. Please pray the Lord will continue to build His church through His Word and that he would provide for their daily needs.

As I mentioned yesterday, Tom Cox and I had the privilege of accompanying our friend, Elder Osse Kamara, to Rainy Season Orphanage in Freetown. Heeding the Lord’s call to “look after orphans…in their distress” (James 1:27,) Osse partnered with a woman from Nashville, TN, in the early 2000s to open this home as a refuge for some of the many orphaned children in the capital city of Sierra Leone. Though the orphanage is not a direct ministry of the churches here, some of the members of First Presbyterian, where Osse is an elder, have joined him in serving the more than 80 children in their care, including one of our students, Sorie Kamara (no relation), who is the executive director.

We learned that the children who live there have come from a variety of circumstances, including losing parents to illness, tragedy, and many to neglect as many are left at the entrance of local hospitals and other public places. Many of the children, however, came to Rainy Season, following a disastrous landslide in 2017 that wiped out the entire village of Mortemeh at the base of a mountain just outside the city. Over 1,100 people lost their lives, and many of their bodies remain buried under ground and vegetation that has since grown over the years. We visited the site of this disaster, a sobering reminder that the tragedies of which we read and hear in the news touch real lives of real people made in the image of God.

At Rainy Season, we toured the grounds meeting many of the children and staff, from nurses providing daily medical care from a small clinic, to the cooks preparing large portions of rice from an outdoor kitchen. In addition, we met many of the teachers who provide education, not only for the children who call the orphanage home, but also for the 45-or-so children from the community who have the opportunity, not only to learn traditional school subjects, but to be discipled in the good news of a God who “defends the cause of the fatherless and widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing” (Deut. 10:18.)

One experience that left an indelible mark in my heart was visiting the home of the children with special needs. As we walked in the door, we were greeted by sweet children who could not speak, but whose smile spoke of a place where they were safe and from which they were provided. Two of women serving there were taking great care to feed and clothe children who cannot exercise these basic functions of life that we so often take for granted. Again, this to me was a window into the heart of God, who takes pity on us in our helpless condition and calls upon His church to be His hands and feet in showing mercy wherever He has placed us.

Here are a few ways you can be praying for us, as we enter a weekend of ministry and service:

  • Pray for the children and staff at Rainy Season Orphanage to experience the love and mercy of the God who adopts us as His own and calls us His children.
  • Pray for our students who are attempting to complete their outstanding assignments from our previous course, that they would be able to submit those to us before we leave, so they can receive credit, as they seek a path toward ordination.
  • Pray for the upcoming meeting of the PCSL Presbytery to be used by the Lord to provide a path forward for the churches to be revitalized in the gospel and its implications on the community.

Here is a video of Sorie Kamara receiving gifts from Calvary of school supplies and a soccer ball for the children of Rainy Season Orphanage.

I have also attached the following photos: (1) Elder Osse and Tom looking at the bare hill, where the landslide of 2017 took place; (2) monument at the site of the landslide; (3) cook in the outdoor kitchen at Rainy Season; (4) children receiving compassionate care in the home for those with special needs; (5) looking down toward an outdoor corridor near the wall at Rainy Season; (6) Tom shares the gospel with children of Rainy Season, using a flower as an illustration.

Thank you again, for your partnership in this ministry. The Lord is at work building His church in His Word and transforming the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society.

In Christ,
Pastor Nate

Your Gifts Are a Blessing in Sierra Leone

This week has been filled with many demonstrations of God’s love and yours for the people here in Freetown. Over the past two days, we’ve visited the three Presbyterian (PCSL) church-run schools, as well as an orphanage co-founded and run by one of the elders from 1st Church. In addition we considered the biblical role of women in the church through both Tom’s teaching on the subject, and an excellent devotional given during our gospel-communication lab by a woman who is actively ministering to women in a local prison, as well as in her church. During Tom’s teaching, I had the opportunity to bring up the 11 women in attendance and give them each a card and poster from the women at Calvary. These gifts were well received, and representatives from each of the five churches of the presbytery took an equal share of the remaining notes and posters to distribute in their local congregations.  

Your generous love for your brothers and sisters over 4,000 miles away has been experienced in beautiful ways over the past few days, as I’ve been able to hand out many of the gifts that you sent to bless the people here. Here is a list of how those gifts have been a blessing thus far:

Phone(s)

Just over a week before I flew out of Raleigh, I shared a specific need for a phone for one of the ministry leaders in the area, whose current phone is cracked, making his used of it difficult. On Sunday evening, Elder John MaCauley, who leads at the church in the fishing village of Goderich, took public transportation to meet with us at our hotel. During that time, I was able, through your generosity, to present him with a good used phone that will serve him and his church well  Here is a video of John’s expression of gratitude to you at Calvary.

Notes from the Women at Calvary

In addition to the women of the local churches, I was able to share a few of your notes with two members of the cleaning staff at our hotel, as well as a couple of the teachers at Goderich School, a ministry of Elder John’s church. They were each thrilled to receive notes from a sister in Christ from America.

School Supplies and Soccer Balls

As I visited each school – Peace, 1st Presbyterian, and Goderich – I was able to present their respective headmasters with a bag filled with pencils, crayons, erasers, a children’s Easter book, and a soccer ball. As you might imagine, the soccer ball, or football as they call it, was a massive hit with the children. When the children of Goderich saw the soccer ball, their eyes lit up, and with permission from their teacher, they immediately ran to play. One of the classes at 1st Presbyterian School spontaneously broke out in cheering and sincere expressions of gratitude. Here is a video of me presenting your gifts to the headmaster of Goderich School. Here, also is a video of the children of Goderich joyfully playing with their new soccer ball.

I still have toys to share with each of the five churches, as well as books and resources that I pray will be a tool in the Lord’s had for making disciples and the furthering of His Kingdom in Sierra Leone. In addition, I a plan to share your video greetings soon. In a future e-mail, I will share more with you about the story of the orphanage we visited today, in addition to a few photos.

Thank you again for your open-handed generosity. I am especially grateful for your prayers. Here are a few ways you can pray in the next couple of days:

  • Pray for our Thursday evening teaching session, as I will teach on Worship in the Local Church. Pray the Lord will use it to build up these dear congregations, as they seek to glorify Him.
  • Pray for “M”, one of the hotel staff. He asked Tom and I if we had any theological resources for him, which we did, and he is eager to reach and talk with us about Christian doctrine.
  • Pray for gospel conversations, not only with church leaders and members, but also with hotel staff and guests. The Lord has provided several opportunities so far, and we are eager to share the good news of Jesus wherever the Spirit is at work.

I’ve attached a few photos for your enjoyment: 1) Tom and I on the hotel terrace; 2) presenting the women with notes from Calvary; 3) a note being handed to a woman from PCSL; 4) girls of Goderich School enjoying the gift of soccer; 5) a classroom at Goderich School.

Lord Bless you all, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming days.

In Christ,
Pastor Nate

Weekend Recap from Sierra Leone

Tom Cox and I are greatly enjoying the fellowship we have in Christ, as we partner together in this work.  Here is a recap of some of the ministry opportunities of this past weekend.

Saturday, February 10

We gathered for our third teaching session on the doctrine of the church. I taught through the various Biblical images God has given to illustrate both the nature and the purpose of His church in the world.  We specifically focused on the church as the body of Christ with Christ as the head, the church as the temple of God with Christ as cornerstone, and the church as the family of God with Christ as our elder brother. The approximately 25 church leaders and members who attended engaged deeply in our discussion and are demonstrating that they are making connections to their own local context.

Following the teaching, we participated in an important afternoon meeting between representatives of the Presbyterian Church of Sierra Leone (PCSL) and Jim Weaver, the chairman of our denomination’s work in West Africa (W.A.R.M). He joined us by Zoom to share exciting news about potential additional ministry partners, who may be considered for a future in-country partnership with the churches here. If the Lord leads in this direction, this would be a huge answer to prayer, as well as an enhancement of the work of raising leaders of which Tom and I have been part. Please pray with us that the Lord would continue to raise up workers for the harvest.

Sunday, February 11

On Sunday, Tom and I attended separate churches, at the request of the elders, so that each of us could observe and encourage one of the men in training, as they proclaimed God’s Word to their people. Because our role is to come alongside the churches in raising up leaders and pastors from among their own people, we believe it is vital that we have the opportunity to observe their preaching in their own context. Each man preached from a text that we assigned that connects to teaching we are doing during the weekdays. I was greatly encouraged to worship with the congregation at First Presbyterian Church in Freetown, and hear one of their elders faithfully proclaim the gospel from 1 Timothy 3:15-17.  

In addition, the Lord gave me two opportunities to exercise the biblical exhortation to be ready “in season and out of season.”  

#1 – I noticed my name was listed in the bulletin as leading a blessing over the children of the congregation. I asked what that meant, and learned they wanted me to pray a blessing over the next generation, which I was delighted to do, using Jesus’ words from Luke 18:15-17 to inform the basis of my prayer.

#2 – Following the worship service, one elder, named Alfred, informed me that we would be visiting the home of a woman whose husband recently died, while he was in Atlanta. When we arrived, I saw many of the young people from the church, gathered on the front porch of her home, and when we went inside, many of the members of the congregation were gathered in the living room. I was asked to sit in a chair in the middle of the room next to Alfred, and he informed me he would like me to speak words of comfort for about 5 minutes. I prayed silently that the Lord would lead me, and I turned to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. I acknowledged to Sara, the young widow, that though I do not know her, she is my sister in Christ, and though I have no wisdom in and of myself, I bring God’s Word of comfort in the face of grief. I was deeply touched by the expressions of love from this congregation, showing up together both in times of joy and times of sorrow.

We’ve had several other ministry opportunities, as the Lord has led us to conversations with people of various backgrounds, not only in the church but also in at the hotel.  In my next update, I will share a little about how the Lord is at work and how he is using your gifts of kindness to bless people with whom we come in contact.

Here are a few prayer points for today:

Please pray for each night’s teaching session.  I will be doing the teaching on church leadership tonight, and one of the students will be giving a short sermon for our sermon lab.

Please pray for a young man who is part of the hotel cleaning crew. He is a Muslim with whom we were able to share the gospel today, after he found and read a book on the Lord’s Supper that I left out on the desk in our room.

Please pray for the young woman who suddenly lost her husband in Atlanta. She is planning to go for the funeral in the next couple of weeks, and I have offered to help connect her to folks from our denomination, if that’s of help to her and her family.

Photos below, left to right are: 1) Tom and I with church leaders from the PCSL; 2) a selfie photo with the class, used as a illustration of “pictures” the Lord gives of his church; 3) student, Sorie, with his daughter Samara, whose naming ceremony we attended last March, just after she was born.

In Christ,
Pastor Nate

Update from Sierra Leone

As you have likely heard, Tom Cox and I arrived in Sierra Leone around 7pm local time (2pm EST) on Wednesday evening, after a largely uneventful journey that began at RDU airport 25 hours prior. We enjoyed the new modernized airport in Freetown, before taking the bus to the ferry.

While we waited an hour at the ferry terminal, we met a young woman from Greece named Iro, who was traveling by herself on business, seeking to increase energy access for Sierra Leone, which, we learned, has one of the lowest rates of energy access in the world. It was a reminder to us of the many gifts we take for granted, and the ways the Lord is working through means of His common grace to care for His world.

Once we exited the ferry, we reunited with our friends, Elder Osse and Elder Lati, for who we prayed when he had a motorcycle accident sometime in 2023. They kindly provided a ride for Iro to her hotel, so she would not have to travel alone in the city.

Thursday was a day of recovery from our travel. We spent most of the day at the hotel, getting reacquainted with hotel staff that we had the privilege of getting to know a year ago. I shared with Tom, how encouraging it is to me to be able to be in a familiar place with people with whom we had previously begun building relationships, not only in the church but in the community. In many ways we have been able to pick up where we left off, particularly with a young Christian man named Ephraim, whose love for Jesus is evident, as he serves hotel guests.

Our evening was spent with 24 men and women from multiple churches of the Presbyterian Convention of Sierra Leone, as we began the first of eight teaching sessions on the doctrine of the church (at left). Many of the students who were with us over Zoom in the fall participated, and are are seeking credit as part of training to be pastors and ministry leaders in the church. Lati preached a short sermon on Matthew 16:13-20, as part of our preaching labs designed to help train men to handle rightly the Word of truth (below.)


Last night at dinner, we met a guest named Peter, who is from the provinces of Sierra Leone. He overheard our conversation and asked if he could ask us questions about the Bible. He was deeply troubled that his wife had been chided by the pastor in her home church for wearing pants to a worship service. He asked us to help explain, Biblically, how to understand this. In much of West Africa, pastors are revered as having high authority, and this often leads to misuse of that position and confusion among the people. We explained to him the freedom we have in Christ, sharing several verses, including Galatians 5:1. When we saw him again this morning, he expressed appreciation and shared that his wife was encouraged by the Scriptures we shared. This was a reminder to us of the necessity of sound doctrine and the contrast of the gospel’s beauty with the ugliness of the shackles of legalism.

We covet your prayers during our time here, and I look forward to sharing the many gifts and notes you sent with me, as you partner with us this work. Visit calvarypca.org/partner for more information.

In Christ,
Pastor Nate