Why should Christians be concerned about a country like Sierra Leone? What does Scripture have to say regarding mission work to such a country?
A first justification for such mission work to Sierra Leone comes from Scripture’s numerous statements about the believer’s responsibility towards the poor. For example, God’s people are to care for the poor through charitable provision (Leviticus 19:10) and through providing justice to those who are defenseless due to their poverty (Leviticus 19:15). God’s ideal is that there be no poor among His people (Deuteronomy 15:1-11), and the early Christians demonstrated this by sharing their goods with one another so that no one was in need (Acts 2:44-45). Sierra Leone has consistently been ranked among the poorest of poor nations in the world. If ever these Scriptural commands concerning poverty applied to a nation, Sierra Leone fits the mould.
Second, one might simply note that mission work is the primary focal point of the early church. The church’s birth and its first efforts are rooted in mission. It is no accident that the stories about Jesus in the gospels are followed in the Christian Bible by the book of Acts: Jesus’ coming (and the coming of the Holy Spirit) gives birth to the missionary work described in Acts. The first leaders of the church—men such as Peter, Paul, James and Jude—were all missionaries, preaching about Jesus and his resurrection from the dead and planting churches. This is what the church in every age should primarily be about: the making of disciples of Jesus and the building up of the church. As such, the church should be putting its best and brightest on the mission field.
One final instance from Scripture will suffice. In writing to the Corinthians who were confident in their own wisdom and strength, Paul explains God’s thinking on human power:
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:25-29)
Similarly, James writes that God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith (James 2:5-6). Jesus’ message is in fact good news for the poor (Luke 4:18-19). In short, Sierra Leone—humbled by its poverty and its civil war—is ripe for the gospel and for genuine Christian service. And, as the gospel takes stronger root there, one can be confident that Christians in this country have the potential to be very ardent and faithful believers. Indeed, our experience in the country has proven that there are some amazing Christians in the country, however small in number they may be.