PROFILE A regular pioneer in Pendembu, Eastern Province, Sierra Leone, when the war broke out in 1991.
ONE afternoon rebels entered our town, firing their guns into the air for about two hours. Some were young teenagers who struggled to carry their weapons. They were very dirty, had wild, unkempt hair, and seemed to be under the influence of drugs.
The following day the killing started. People were brutally maimed or executed. Women were raped. It was chaotic. Brother Amara Babawo and his family and four interested people took refuge at my house. We were terrified.
Soon a rebel commander appeared and ordered us to report for military training the following morning. We were determined to stay neutral, although refusal meant death. We prayed most of that night. Rising early, we considered the day’s text and waited for the rebels to come. They never came.
“You are reading the daily text. You must be Jehovah’s Witnesses”
Later a rebel officer and four of his men commandeered my house. They told us to stay, so we continued to hold regular meetings and to discuss the daily text at home. Some soldiers said: “You are reading the daily text. You must be Jehovah’s Witnesses.” They were not interested in the Bible, but they respected us.
One day a senior commander came to inspect the troops who were billeted at my home. He saluted Brother Babawo and shook his hand. Addressing the soldiers, the commander barked: “This man is my boss and yours. If one hair falls from his head or the heads of those with him, it will mean trouble for you. Do you understand?” “Yes, sir!” they replied. The commander then gave us a letter ordering the Revolutionary United Front not to harm us because we were peaceful citizens.
Several months later, rebel factions began fighting each other, so we fled to neighboring Liberia. There we were threatened by another rebel group. “We are Jehovah’s Witnesses,” we told them. “Then what does John 3:16 say?” a soldier asked. When we recited the verse, he let us go.
Later, we met another rebel commander who ordered Brother Babawo and me to accompany him. We feared for our lives. Then the rebel told us that he had studied with the Witnesses before the war. He gave us money and took a letter from us and carried it to the brothers in a nearby congregation. Soon afterward, two brothers arrived with relief supplies and led us to safety.