“Jehovah, Thank You!”
As conditions stabilized, brothers and sisters returned to what was left of their homes. Congregations that were disbanded during the war sprang to life, especially in Sierra Leone’s war-torn east. Special pioneers from one area reported: “Sixteen people attended our first meeting, 36 came to the next, 56 enjoyed the one after that, and then 77 attended the Memorial! We were thrilled!” Nine new congregations were formed, bringing the total to 24. Ten new Gilead missionaries arrived, adding fresh impetus to the preaching work. In 2004, the Memorial attendance was 7,594
The Governing Body swiftly released emergency funds to help the returning refugees get established. (Jas. 2:15, 16) Mobile teams of relief volunteers built or repaired 12 Kingdom Halls and an Assembly Hall in Koindu. They also constructed 42 modest mud-brick dwellings to accommodate families whose homes had been destroyed. Standing beside her new corrugated iron-roofed house with tears of joy running down her face, one widowed sister in her 70’s shouted: “Jehovah, thank you! Jehovah, thank you! Brothers, thank you!”
The branch office also began building Kingdom Halls with funds from the program for lands with limited resources. Saidu Juanah, an elder and a pioneer in the Bo West Congregation, relates: “One sister told me, ‘If I hear that we will receive a new Kingdom Hall, I will clap with my hands and feet!’ When I announced that we were getting a new hall, the sister leaped from her seat, applauding and dancing
In 2010, the Waterloo Congregation dedicated a new Kingdom Hall that can be expanded into an 800-seat Assembly Hall. The day the congregation purchased the property, the owner received a higher offer from another bidder. She said, “I would rather have a religious conference center on my land than to have it used for commercial purposes.”
Under the program for lands with limited resources, 17 Kingdom Halls have been constructed in Sierra Leone, and 6 in Guinea. These modest but dignified places of worship have encouraged many more people to attend meetings.
Finding Jehovah’s Lost Sheep
As the preaching work gained momentum, the branch office arranged a two-month campaign to preach in seldom worked territory. Publishers placed nearly 15,000 books and enjoyed many fine experiences. Some people asked if Jehovah’s Witnesses would set up congregations in any of the local towns. As a result, two new congregations were eventually established. In one remote village, the brothers found two displaced sisters who had been cut off from the organization during the war. The brothers immediately organized regular meetings and started several Bible studies in the village.
In 2009, the branch office heard of a village deep in the Guinea forest where people claimed to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. Sending brothers to investigate, the branch learned that an elderly brother had returned to his native village after he retired. He studied with several men before he died. One of the men put faith in Jehovah and began sharing his Bible knowledge with others. He also held meetings, using the deceased brother’s publications. The group had been worshipping Jehovah for 20 years before a publisher stumbled across them. The branch immediately sent brothers to assist the group spiritually. In 2012, one hundred and seventy-two people in the village attended the Memorial of Christ’s death.
In recent times, a growing number of ‘lost sheep’ have been found. These are persons who had drifted away or had been removed from the congregation. Many such prodigals have turned around and made their way back to the truth. Jehovah’s people have welcomed them with open arms.
Sincere Muslims Accept the Truth
When sharing the good news with others, the apostle Paul became “all things to people of all sorts.” (1 Cor. 9:22, 23) Likewise, Jehovah’s servants in Sierra Leone and Guinea have adjusted their approach in order to appeal to different people. Consider, for example, how some publishers reason with tolerant Muslims, the largest religious group in both countries.
Saidu Juanah, who is a former Muslim, explains: “Muslims believe that Adam was created from dust but that he first lived in a heavenly paradise. To help them grasp the correct understanding, I ask them, ‘Where does dust come from?’
“‘The earth,’ they reply.
“‘So Adam must have been created where?’ I continue.
“‘On the earth,’ they answer.
“To drive home the point, I read Genesis 1:27, 28 and ask, ‘Do heavenly beings have children?’
“‘No. Angels are neither male nor female,’ they reply.
“‘When God told Adam and Eve to have children, they must have been where?’ I reason.
“‘On the earth,’ they respond.
“‘So when God restores Paradise, where must that Paradise be?’ I ask.
“‘Here on earth,’ they reply.”
Saidu concludes, “Such Scriptural reasoning prompts many sincere Muslims to listen further and to accept Bible literature.”
Consider Momoh, a Muslim shopkeeper who hoped to become an Imam one day. When Witness missionaries reasoned with him from the Scriptures, Momoh became curious. He attended part of a circuit assembly and liked what he heard. Four days later, he and his wife, Ramatu, and their five children attended the Memorial of Jesus’ death. Momoh then started studying the Bible in earnest. After several studies he stopped selling cigarettes. He told his customers that cigarettes harm people and are disapproved by God. He also started studying with his wife and children at his shop. When customers called during the family study, he asked them to sit and wait, explaining that the study was very important for his family. When he and Ramatu legalized their marriage, their families began bitterly opposing them. Undeterred, Momoh and Ramatu boldly witnessed to their relatives, who eventually came to respect their fine conduct. Momoh was baptized in 2008, and Ramatu in 2011.
Upholding the Sanctity of Blood
Jehovah’s people courageously uphold God’s moral standards, including his view of blood. (Acts 15:29) This stand has gained the respect of a growing number of medical professionals in Sierra Leone and Guinea.
In 1978, brothers distributed the booklet Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Question of Blood to doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, lawyers, and judges throughout Sierra Leone. Soon afterward, a sister who was in labor began bleeding internally, but doctors refused to treat her without blood. One doctor, however, agreed to help because of the informative and logical material that he had read in the Blood booklet. The sister gave birth to a healthy baby boy and made a complete recovery.
About 1991, Dr. Bashiru Koroma, a surgeon at Kenema Hospital, read the brochure How Can Blood Save Your Life? Impressed by its contents, he began studying the Bible and attending Christian meetings. When a nine-year-old Witness boy ruptured his spleen in an accident, the boy’s doctors refused to operate without blood. They told his parents, “Take your child home to die!” The parents approached Dr. Koroma, who successfully performed the operation.
Dr. Koroma soon became Brother Koroma
Since 1994, the Hospital Information Desk at the branch in Freetown has set up Hospital Liaison Committees in Sierra Leone and in Guinea. These committees have lovingly supported many sick Witnesses and persuaded dozens of medical professionals to accommodate our stand on blood.