CrossPoint Church & Maboleh UMC – A Partnership
When the former Central Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church initiated its program of developing covenant relationships with partner churches in war-torn Sierra Leone, none of us at CrossPoint were certain just how, or how well, this would work out.
We began slowly, joining larger teams in 2007 & 2008 as they travelled throughout Sierra Leone – getting to know the churches there, and building relationships. In 2009, CrossPoint sent its first team to partner with its sister church in the village of Maboleh, near the country’s 3rd largest city, Makeni, located in the central part of the country. What’s happened in the years since is remarkable.
During our first visit to Maboleh, we accomplished two very important things. First, we formed an instant bond with the church’s pastor, Rev. G. T. Serry.
Though in poor health, Rev. Serry was a dynamic partner, who quickly adopted the vision of “sister churches”. Secondly, the team made the conscious decision to learn what the church’s and village’s needs were and respond to them, rather than inventorying and acting upon what we thought to be the most pressing needs. Our credibility was established and our relationship was cemented (literally) by joining with the church elders and village leaders to construct a new latrine, behind the church. Alongside our new partners, we dug the pit and made the concrete blocks that were used to build the latrine.
Sadly, as our team prepared to travel to Sierra Leone the following year, we received word of Rev. Serry’s death. During the trip, the team met with conference officials and local leaders, as the plan to replace Rev. Serry was developed. Thankfully, we already had a solid relationship with Michael Kamara, an evangelist and teacher in the village’s primary school. Pastor Michael has nearly completed his seminary training, and continues to grow the church in Maboleh.
Building on the successes of the first several visits, CrossPoint developed a team of committed missionaries who, with God’s help, have been able to accomplish many things in Maboleh. In addition to building latrines near both our church and the mosque in the village, we’ve been able to fund the construction of a home for the late Rev. Serry’s family, as well as improvements and well repairs at the village’s primary school. Understanding the importance of education, especially for girls, we’ve established scholarships for village children to attend the UMC-run secondary school in Makeni, about 5 miles away. We’re currently sponsoring 4 students each year (2 boys/2 girls), by supplying funds for their tuition, uniforms, books & supplies.
The centerpiece of our relationship with this village however, has always been the church and its members. In 2012, we were able to fund the razing of the old, mud-block church, and construction of a new, concrete block church. The original structure, built in 1979, suffered the ravages of a brutal civil war (bullet holes still visible) and decay brought on by the tropical cycle of yearly monsoons. Working closely with Sierra Leone’s Bishop John Yambasu, a plan was developed to utilize local labor and construction crews to erect a new church that would serve as a home to not only Maboleh’s Christians, but those in the surrounding villages as well. A joyous ceremony dedicating this new church was held on Sunday, March 3rd of that year. The nearly 500 in attendance, were joined by a 6 person team from CrossPoint, as we celebrated this tremendous achievement and our partnership together.
- Building the new church
- Completing the interior – replacing the old pews and furniture, as well as tiling the floor.
- Initiating a Sunday School program for the children of the village
- Conducting leadership training for the elders of the church
- Creating scholarships for four 6th grade students (2 boys / 2 girls) each year, to attend the UMC’s Secondary School in Makeni
- Providing stipends for the teachers and Headmistress at the village’s Primary School
- Painting the Primary School – inside and outside
- Purchasing much needed school supplies (slates, books, pencils, etc.) for the children
- Provide funds for the village clinic’s nurse to receive further training
- Purchase medicine and supplies for the clinic
- Provided mosquito nets for each household in the village
- Funded a Women’s Agriculture Project (WAP) whereby the women of the village can earn money and provide incomes for their families by growing cassava, ground nuts, etc.
- Assisted with the expansion of that project to include a sewing project, and a piggery
- Provided the WAP with a hammer mill and training to process the harvested cassava and ground nuts, thereby enabling the women to increase production and profits.
Since 2009, CrossPoint has made 8 visits to our brothers and sisters in Maboleh. The richness of this experience can only be summed up by a quote from one of our team members who said, “We’ve received much more from them, than they’ve received from us”. CrossPoint’s covenant relationship with Maboleh UMC will continue long after the expiration of the initial 10 year commitment; our relationship with the people of Maboleh village will last a lifetime, and we look forward to the next phase of our partnership together. Our next visits to Maboleh are already being planned. We can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.