Paying It Forward - Ownership Fever In Sierra Leone

04/16/09

“Ownership Fever” is spreading like wildfire through the Children of the Nations (COTN) family in Banta Mokelleh, Sierra Leone. Since the idea arose the end of the year on the emergence of the global credit crunch, COTN–Sierra Leone staff has been responding positively to the challenge of self-sustainability if an effort to keep the ministry alive. Church pastors in the Banta communities have identified income-generating projects to sustain their ministries in the long-term, and our house parents, caregivers and children are actively engaging in such income-generating projects as backyard gardening, goat rearing, and crafts.

A recent one-man initiative exemplifying the ownership concept and worthy of an accolade is that of Quami Agbermodji, who serves as our COTN–Sierra Leone In-Country Venture Program Coordinator and is also committed to the growth of our church programs in Sierra Leone. Earlier this year, Quami took a Venture team to our church and nursery school in the village of Mosenesi for Vacation Bible School, held for the children in that community. While the team was ministering to the children, “Uncle” Quami decided to take a seat in the back. The only available sitting accommodation, constructed with local cane sticks, could not carry Quami’s 242-pound, six-foot tall frame. CRASH – BOOM! Down went Uncle Quami to the dusty floor!

Fortunately, the children were not distracted from singing praise to the King of Kings and dancing, but Uncle Quami was. To ensure that no one falls under such collapsing benches again, Uncle Quami thought, “I must get these guys some benches before someone gets hurt in our church!” He talked with his wife about providing the church with five benches that would provide seating for 20 people.

The carpenter Quami chose, whose wife works for COTN as a caregiver, was so moved by Quami’s gesture that he decided to make an additional bench free of charge. This triggered off a chain of response from other members of the church, “We cannot sit complacently and allow our blessing to be taken by visitors alone!” So they pledged to provide another set of six benches by the following Sunday!

The church elders summoned a meeting after church to discuss this and other developments. Pursuant to the meeting, one man volunteered to donate seed for cultivation of the swamp rice project, another volunteered to provide labor on the peanut project, while the kids volunteered to fetch water from nearby wells and contribute to completing the walls of the church and paving of the dusty floor.

One man’s action led to positive reaction on the concept of ownership responsibility at COTN. If I am to choose a sermon for this extended gesture, it would be: “All things work together for good to them that love God”—even a fall.