On January 28, the unthinkable happened. One of our Regional Directors lost his son who was only 19-years-old. This tragedy occurred in a mysterious accident with a train. He went out for a run and never came back. Since there were no eyewitnesses or evidence of foul play, the actual situation remains unknown.
The loss is unimaginable to his parents. And his father is one of what we call “the founding members” of New Generations. He was with us at the beginning of our Disciple Making Movement journey in 2005 and now leads our efforts in Anglophone West Africa, North Africa, and Prayer Mobilization.
He is also a national figure in his home country of Sierra Leone. For decades, he has served his nation: from ministry to the poor to discipling the president, from training chaplains in the military to leading Muslim imams to Jesus. While his son appeared to be anointed by God to be a leader who could someday take over his father’s role, now those hopes and dreams are gone.
On March 15, this leader, father, and friend shared with our team what God was doing through this tragedy. Below are some edited excerpts of his testimony:
- Personal Impact: When we received the news…I went to my prayer room…”God, give us the strength to go through this…we don’t want our faith to fail us.” Something came over me…extraordinary strength that I’ve not experienced before.
- Overall Impact: There are many testimonies of people who have opened their hearts to Jesus through this. Everyone of them told us the impression this had made on their lives.
- National/International Impact: Our President, First Lady, Chief of Staff, Inspector General, and all high-profile government officials came to the memorial. We saw overwhelming love from the community…from every area of life. Students, prison officials, city mayors, tribal chiefs, all came. It’s like the whole nation came to a standstill for somebody that most of them did not know. People came from Liberia, Guinea and other parts of the world.
- Impact on the Poor: The beggars, blind and those in wheelchairs marched 3-4 miles on foot to encourage us. People from the “Amputee Camp” (who had their legs, hands and ears cut off during the war) traveled farther than the beggars to speak back the words of encouragement we had given to them. When it was getting late, I tried to transport them in buses back to their homes. They refused. “We are going nowhere.” They slept on the bare ground under the trees.
- Impact on Muslims: The Council of Muslim Imams came to the house…One begged us, “Please start the funeral at 1 pm so we can do our Friday prayers at mosques and still attend…The demonstration of your faith has shown us there is a living God.”
- A prominent Muslim government official texted… “What I have seen, has convinced me that I should follow Jesus.
- Another top Muslim government official said, “What I have experienced in your faith makes me want to be a follower of Jesus even more.”
- Impact on the Church: We saw the church united: Catholics and Protestants, bishops and pastors…People said this has never happened. Some pastors said that this had really increased their faith. A prominent bishop texted me… “this is a reflection of heaven.”
- Impact on the Military/Police: It was like it was a general who passed away. The Brigadier came, the army was fully involved…carrying the casket, providing security at the gravesite to drive away thieves. They will stay a month.
- Ministry Impact: We did not allow the ministry to stop. I received the news on a Saturday. I prayed for strength and went to church to preach. When they heard me speak, that encouraged them. They said you really showed us what it means to have faith in God.
- I called all the team leaders with the news. We are all grieving, and the enemy will try to stop what we are doing. We have to continue to grieve and continue to do what God has called us to do. And there’s no better way to show people that we grieve like people of faith. God is still on the throne. He has not abandoned us.
- Family Impact: Family members, though deeply shaken, were moved to take their walk with Christ deeper. Our (remaining) children were shaken but found their faith strengthened.
- Personal Impact: God was demonstrating that our labor is not in vain. We were not expecting anything in return. We are doing it for the advancement of the Kingdom, but God showed us how much people appreciate what we have been doing.
- God used this to really show us, we could trust in Him. Even through the fire, He is with us. We are grieving, our hearts are broken. But by the grace of God gives us strength. We want His name to be honored, His name to be glorified every step of the way. God is real and He can do far more abundantly than we can imagine.
In the middle of unthinkable loss and sorrow, God makes a way for light to enter the darkness of this world. We are more than encouraged by our friend’s courage, strength, and faithful example in this time. Please continue to lift him up in prayer as he walks this journey with his family. Glory to God for the ways we see comfort in the midst of suffering.