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A group of Temne people wanted to start a church in their community of Rochen Mara, Sierra Leone. But with few leaders, the believers said they needed “organization, a better understanding of the gospel, and some training in how to get a new church growing.”

Having heard about the growth of the Christian Reformed Church of Sierra Leone (CRCSL), they approached Pastor John Phiri for help.

Phiri, a missionary of the Reformed Church of Zambia, has served in Sierra Leone since 2006 through a partnership with Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM). His ministry focuses on developing Sierra Leonean church leaders. In August he traveled to Rochen Mara with 25 members from the CRCSL in Kabala to assess the church’s needs.

They learned that village leaders have welcomed the church and given it 5 acres of land. About 230 people want to be part of the new congregation in Rochen Mara. Many are eager to be trained to reach out to their community.

“One of the many challenges in a pioneer mission field such as Sierra Leone is to train excellent local leaders,” says Paul Kortenhoven, a former CRWM missionary in Sierra Leone who remains involved with the country as a volunteer, promoter, and friend.

Kortenhoven, Phiri, and others have found that the practical, reproducible nature of Timothy Leadership Training (TLT), a program based at Calvin Theological Seminary, is an effective leadership development tool.

In the past six years, TLT has trained more than 65 Sierra Leonean leaders. Moreover, three leaders have begun training at seminaries in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. In time, believers in Rochen Mara will train with TLT as well.

The CRC of Sierra Leone, which has 60 churches and more than 5,500 believers, began among the Kuranko people, expanding to include the Mende and Limba people, and now the Temne people.

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