Thursday, July 15, 2010

REMEMBERING THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD: CRC Primary School 1st Annual Thanksgiving

On Sunday, June 27th, 2010, the CRC Primary school in Kabala held their first annual Thanksgiving. It was amazing to see the children all dressed up in their brand new ceremonial uniforms, and the excitement and enthusiasm was infectious as they began their march through the town, singing praises to God. As I marched with them and looked up at the beautiful mountains surrounding Kabala, I contemplated the true goodness and wonder of our God – not just that He enabled the dream of this school to become a reality, but that He went ahead of that dream and prepared a lasting partnership, a bond that runs deeper than family blood, between this small town in Sierra Leone and the people of British Columbia, Canada. I am constantly amazed at the fact that the people in Kabala accept me, and any visitor from BC, as a part of their family, their community, their school, and their lives – it seems impossible that people with such different backgrounds, cultures, and languages could become so close-knit and connected after such a short time, but that is the wonder of our God!

As the Thanksgiving program began, speeches were made by the Town Chief, the Principal, the Pastors of the CRC church, the Deputy Minister of Education, and a visitor from Grand Rapids who helped to start the dream of this Primary School, Dr. Jo. Kuyvenhoven. It brought tears to my eyes to see the impact that this school has had on the students, the teachers, the families, and the community and country at large. It was incredible to listen to Dr. Jo explaining that the students at CRC have come 1st in their reading and writing proficiency – and not just 1st in Kabala, but 1st in ALL of Sierra Leone. After just three years in operation, this school has already begun to change the lives of people in this community in ways we never would have thought possible. It was so encouraging and inspiring to see a student in Class 5 at CRC stand up and read a very difficult verse from the Bible in perfect English – a true example of the value of good, quality education. There were many skits, songs, and other activities performed by the children of CRC, and it was easy to see the joy and the pride they felt to be able to represent their school.

The theme for the Thanksgiving was “This Far the Lord has Helped Us” and indeed, that is an incredibly appropriate theme for this school! Who could have imagined that a dream that began for a Primary school in a small town in rural West Africa could become a reality, and who could have imagined that the reality of it would change and transform so many lives? It is truly incredible to think that the building of one school could make such a difference for so many, both for the people here and the people back in BC who have chosen to open their hearts and partner with this community in Sierra Leone. I cannot speak for the other Canadians, but I can speak for myself when I say that coming to Sierra Leone and having the amazing opportunity to work with the CRC church and the CRC Primary School has drastically changed my life for the better. I have never experienced such genuine thankfulness, love, appreciation, and a sense of community and belonging – and I am sure those of you from Canada and America who have been to Kabala feel the same way. I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of this 1st Annual Thanksgiving, as a chance to look back on how the school started, how far it has come, and where we want it to go in the future!
Rev. John Phiri announced at the Thanksgiving that we now have enough money to build a Junior Secondary School (Form 1 or Grade 7) for next year, and I wish I could properly explain the sounds of joy and excitement that erupted in the building after this announcement! The whole audience stood to their feet and applauded, shouting, praising God, and clapping – some with tears in their eyes. I wish I could convey the effect that this school has had on this Koinadugu district, but it is all I can do is simply encourage those of you in Canada and in the States to never tire to support this ministry with your prayers and your hearts – God is doing something amazing in Kabala through this school, and through the CRC church, and I firmly believe He will keep working! This community and this country are both changing for the better because of this school, and the CRC church ministries, and I know they will continue to grow and expand in the future.
During the Thanksgiving, as Dr. Jo was explaining how the war in Sierra Leone affected the education here, and the dream that arose to start CRC, I found tears welling in my eyes as I thought of the incredible impact this school has made in Kabala. One of my aunties here in Kabala approached me and said, “Krissi, why are you crying...look what the Lord has done!” I gave her a hug and smiled, with tears of joy in my eyes, “That’s why Auntie, Look what the Lord has done!” There is a song that we sing in Kabala that says, “What can I say unto the Lord, all I have to say is THANK-YOU LORD!” And indeed, what else can we say? This dream of a school has grown beyond our wildest expectations, our wildest dreams, and is blessing people beyond what is humanly possible. So I want to offer a heartfelt thank-you, from myself and everyone in Kabala, to all of those who worked hard to make this dream a reality – Pa Dennis, Asher, Dr. Jo, and the countless others who never tire to spread the news of this school and encourage people to get involved – but an even greater thank-you to our Lord and Father in Heaven, who was working to make this dream a reality before we even had the dream. “Tell God Tenke”, as we would say in Krio, for all that He has done and continues to do!

Written by Krissi Bucholtz, Canadian volunteer with the CRC church & CRC school

Monday, July 5, 2010

A HEART FOR KOINADUGU DISTRICT, in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone

Krissi Bucholtz first came to Kabala, the headquarter town of Koinadugu District, in 2008 as a student ambassador for Fraser Valley Christian High School in Surrey, B.C, Canada. Fraser Valley had raised funds to build the CRC Primary School in Kabala during 2006 and 2007, so in March 2008, Krissi came to work for one month as a student teacher for CRC Primary school. Nearly as soon as she stepped foot in this country, she said she knew that she had found God’s calling for her life.

There was something in Sierra Leone, especially in Kabala, that captured her heart and wouldn’t let go. After just 3 weeks of working at CRC Primary, she was confident that she had seen where God wanted her to be and what he wanted her to do with her life, so she began to pursue that with all her heart. After graduating from high school, she pursued to sell her horse and change her previous university plans in order to enrol in an NGO Management and International Development course so she could be more prepared to work in Africa.

In 2009, Krissi came back to Kabala for four months to work with C.E.S, a local NGO, as well as the CRC church, and teach at CRC Primary again. During those four months, God really opened her eyes to the need of the youth in Kabala – a need for higher education, a need for recognition of their own value and self-worth, and a huge need for purity and integrity. She describes the situation by saying, “Every time I saw teenage pregnancies or bad relationship aftermath happen in Kabala, God caused my heart to ache more than I had ever thought possible.” Krissi realized that this empathy she felt was God placing a call on her life for the youth, so she started purity and integrity bible studies with them, focusing on the issues of sexual abuse and HIV/AIDS, and looking to God’s word to see how youth could brighten their future and respect themselves in everything they do, by accepting God’s promises for their lives.

Since Krissi started these bible studies, God really placed a call on her heart to start up a permanent program in Kabala, to provide youth with somewhere to go when they need advice, a place where they could talk and still feel safe. At this time, Krissi’s Canadian friend, Katie Jenkins, was also working in Kabala for a month, and she willingly and lovingly opened up her heart and helped Krissi to realize this dream and make it a reality. So, together they were able to come up with the idea of starting a mentoring and counselling program for the Kabala youth, a program that would continue to encourage and shape them by providing them with University Scholarships. The program is called “The People’s Foundation for Sierra Leone” and PEOPLE stands for:

P lanning the
E limination
O f
P overty through
L ove and
E ducation

This name is fitting because the only way to break the cycle of poverty is through education, and the most worthwhile education takes place once youth have recognized their own unique value and begin to respect themselves as well as one another. Krissi and Katie are now working on partnering this program with the CRC church in Sierra Leone as well as the CRC churches in B.C, in hopes this dream can grow and serve as a light shining in the darkness in Kabala (John 1:5). As far as I see it, Krissi’s calling from God is firmly rooted in this country, and I can only hope and pray God will continue to strengthen that call and keep her focused and eager to do His work. I have confidence that this program will bless many young people in the Koinadugu District in particular, and Sierra Leone in general.
Compiled by:
Secretary of BC and SL Partnership

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


In some parts of the world especially Canadian, most people think of chili peppers as something they might have one or two with a spicy dish. In Sierra Leone, however, a meal is not complete without a whole handful chopped up into the sauce. In a tropical country where you wouldn’t think people needed to sweat any more, people like their food hot! Needless to say, there is a high demand for this fiery spice in the country.
Gbongbonto is a scenic village that is set up high in the hills in Diang Chiefdom, Koinadugu District, in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. In this settlement, people are engaged in subsistence farming but also do some small gold mining. Owing to their geographical location however, they have no “swamps” that they can farm in the dry season and therefore only plant rice during the rains.
Meanwhile, when The Family Farm project, in partnership with the Christian Reformed Church of Sierra Leone, decided to help this community grow a crop during the dry season, everyone agreed that pepper would be a good one to plant. It would grow well in the soil and would have a good price when it was ready, early in the rainy season when it is scarce.
With one motorized pump, a few days of land preparation (and perspiration), and the transplanting of over 2200 pepper seedlings, the farmers are looking forward to a bumper harvest in two months that will help pay their kids’ school fees, provide nutrition for the family and support their other farming activities. Proceeds will also support their CRC Church and activities they want to undertake. As a result of their faith and hard work, the people of Gbongbonto and those in the other communities where The Family Farm Project is operating, can always look forward to miracles and a nice spicy sauce!

For more information on the Christian Reformed Church Family Farm Project in Sierra Leone, please contact Travis Wilkins at

Below are pictures of a cross section of Benificiaries of the Family Farm Project in Sierra Leone.

Compiled and Published by:


The IT and Communication Officer for SIT & CES

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Above are some of the many memorable pictures of the Athletic Sports Meeting that took place between the 25th and 27th March 2010

The third annual inter-house athletics sport meeting of Christian Reformed Church Primary School in Kabala, Koinadugu district, Northern Province, Sierra Leone took place from March 25th through the 27th March 2010. In early February this year, the pupils and staff of were divided into four competitive houses. Each of these houses was called after the name of a patron and given a colour to identify it as shown in the table below:

No Name of house patron House Master House Colour

1 Rev. John Phiri Dominic Samura Green

2 Joseph K. Sesay Karifa S. Jalloh Orange

3 Beny Sam Finah S. Kamara Blue

4 Robert T. Jawara Bockarie Marah Red

The sport meeting started with a wonderful march-past (parade) which began from Kabala Secondary School Junction through the major streets in Kabala to the Christian Reformed Church Primary School campus at Bilimaia. The patrons of the respective houses, teachers of the school, and pupils of the school, their parents, and many prominent members of the Kabala community joined the procession. Each parent, pupil and patron was dressed in the colours of their respective houses.

The most interesting thing was that the parents volunteered to bring along three musical sets which were mounted on three vehicles that were positioned at the front, middle and the end of the procession. Operators of each of the musical sets were told to play gospel songs only. Amidst loud gospel music, clapping, dancing and waiving of hands in the air for Master Jesus; the parents, patrons, pupils and a cross section of the Kabala community marched through the town to the Christian Reformed Church Primary school compound.

At the end of the march-past, that is on the arrival of everybody that took part in the march-past to the Christian Reformed Church Primary compound, the Head Teacher of the school Mr. James Tamba Koroma thanked the patrons, parents, teachers, pupils and all those who took part in the procession. He expressed his happiness and encouraged the parents and well wishers to please continue with their kind and supportive gesture towards the school.

In conclusion, He thanked the parents that provided vehicles to carry the musical sets across the town, those who provided the musical sets and those who did whatever they can in their power to make sure that the march-past was a success. He also allowed the patrons to give a speech of encouragement to the house masters; parents athletes and pupils of the school to make sure each of them work hard towards the success of the inter-house sports meet.

On the 26th March 2010 which was the first day, all the people that were invited to officiate the sport meeting dressed in their white Christian Reformed Church T-Shirt marched from the administrative building of the school to the field clapping their hands and singing a popular Christian song “Let Us Give Thanks to God”. The events that took place on this first day were 80 metres Intermediate boys and girls, Bible search, spell bee, alphabet scramble and musical chair, just to name but a few.

The official opening ceremony of the sport meet was done on the March 27, 2010. It began with prayers which were followed by the hosting of the National Flags of Sierra Leone and Canada respectively. The Head Teacher gave the welcome speech not forgetting to introduce all the dignitaries that came to grace the occasion.

The opening speech of the sports meet was given by Pastor Cecil Huggins who is the Chairman of the Community Teacher’s Association of Christian Reformed Church Primary school in Kabala, Sierra Leone. After his speech, he rose together with the audience to cut the tape thus declaring the sports meet formally open. This was followed by the lighting of the torch and parasuite display.

At the beginning of the competition, the entire four houses were on fire, each of them hoping to be the winner. Below is the final result of the sports meet:

NO Name of house patron House Master House Colour Final MarkScored

1 Joseph K. Sesay Karifa S. Jalloh Orange 446

2 Rev. John Phiri Dominic Samura Green 437

3 Beny Sam Finah S. Kamara Blue 432

4 Robert T. Jawara Bockarie Marah Red 400

The head teacher of the school Mr. James Tamba Koroma gave the final vote of thanks. In conclusion, he thanked Master Jesus, the patrons, the parents and all those who in diverse ways contributed to make the sports meet a success. Above all he thanked the donors who are always more than ready to support the school.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


The first national women’s conference of the Christian Reformed Church of Sierra Leone to be held under the auspices of an appointed National Women’s Co-ordinator was held in Nanfayi, a village in Sambaia Chiefdom, Tonkolili District, Northern Province of the country, from Friday the 4th to Sunday the 7th of March 2010. Thursday the 4th was scheduled to be the arrival and registration date for all the participants from the 60 Christian Reformed Churches in Sierra Leone to the venue of the conference. In the night of that very arrival and registration day the representatives from all the Churches spent about four hours praising, worshiping and thanking God for granting each of them save travelling mercies to Nanfayi.

On Friday the 5th of March 2010 between the hours of 7:00 am and 8:00 am all the participants were engaged in Prayer and Intersession. From 8:30 am to 9:00 am, breakfast was served to all the participants. Just after breakfast that was at exactly 9:00 am; the National Women’s co-ordinator of Christian Reformed Church of Sierra Leone by the name of Mrs. Musu Binty Marah led the devotion which ended at 9:30 am. She gave a short message the theme of which was “Life in and out of the Conference”, she based her message on the reading from “Mathew 5:13-16

In that message, she did not only define the term conference but went on to give the following reasons why conferences are held: to revive and shape lives, resolve broken relationships, heal issues and wounds, identify weak areas in the church and amend them and among other things strengthen our Christian life. It is important to note that every Christian is a salt in the community they may find themselves she said. She went on to explain what the Bible meant by the statement: Every Christian is a salt. She said that salt is good but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again she asked?

In her conclusion, she said that a Christian that has salt has godly character, virtue, integrity and discipline in him or herself. And that a Christian that has no salt keeps grudge, malice, bitterness and unforgiving lives, gossip etc.
At 9:30, the national chair lady of the women, Mrs. Musu Jalloh officially welcomed all the participants and then gave her welcome speech narrating the history of the Christian Reformed Church women’s National conference and giving the successes that it has brought to the church.
This welcome message was followed by the main message from the guest speaker Mrs. Grace Wullamatu Bockarie. The theme of her message was “Salvation and Deliverance”. The reading was from Acts 4:12. She defined Salvation as the act of being saved from sin. She went on to say that Salvation is the greatest miracle of God’s plan to save everybody from Sin and all kinds of wicked behaviours. She defined deliverance as freedom from strong holds, demonic attacks, witch- craft and sin. She supported her preaching with verses from the Holy Bible. Mrs. Grace Wullamatu Bockarie concluded her message by saying that true salvation and deliverance is only from God through Jesus Christ our saviour.

The message of the day came from a brother from Canada by the name of Dennis de Groot. He is the Principal of Fraser Valley Christian High School in Canada. The Title of his massage was “A Loving Father” He preached about the prodigal son in the Bible who one day asked his father to give him a share of his riches. The father was so generous that he did exactly what the son asked of him. The son in short went and lavished all the riches and came back home with empty hands. On his return, the father did not only happily receive his prodigal son but threw an expensive party for him.

He then referred to that loving father as God and referred to mankind as the son. He concluded by giving so many examples of how mankind has failed God and encouraged all present to get back to the father and have the salvation and deliverance that God has graciously given to mankind. After delivering this powerful message, Mr. De Groot went to make a look see of the primary school that is in desperate need of help. From there he left the village for Kabala town, the headquarter of Koinadugu District which is the largest District; the most backward and underdeveloped district in Sierra Leone.

The next day which was Saturday 6th March 2010, started with Prayer and intercession, praise and worship and devotion from 7:00 through 9:30 respectively. During devotion, Mrs. Rosetta Feren Sesay. The theme of her message was “Women as advisers”. Proverbs 11:13, 15:22. She started her message with the statement that God has endowed women with great potentials and that they are very unique. Yet she urged women to use those virtues God has put in them to achieve divine purposes. She went on to say that women play very important advisory roles in the family, Church and in the society in general. Unfortunately, some people of substance today make serious blunders in life because of the wrong advise they receive from their wives, sisters, aunts, or mothers.

On the other hand, people have enjoyed a fulfilled life by paying heed to sound advises they received from Godly women she said. She went on to state good examples of women in the Bible who gave good advises to men at different times and in different situations. For example: Mirian who advised the Pharoah’s daughter Exodus 2:1-8, Rahab Joshua 2:1-5, 9-10, Abigail who advised King David 1st Samuel 25:25-27 etc. she did not only stop at this but also gave examples of women who gave bad advises to men in the Bible; Eve : Genesis 16:1-2, Rebecca Genesis 27: 1-28. She concluded by encouraging women to give good advises to their husbands, fathers, sons, brother etc.

After the devotion, Mrs. Musu Binty Marah the National Women’s Co-ordinator threw a challenge to all the participants to come out and recite memory verses. The recitation of memory verses was followed by the message of the guest speaker Mrs. Grace Bockarie who continued with the broad topic “Salvation and Deliverance”. At 12:30, the representatives of each of the Churches was called upon to come and give account of the Micro-finance Scheme that is going on among the individual Churches. The process of reporting about the loan scheme from one church to the other took place from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM when lunch was served.
Praise and worship followed immediately after lunch break. The guest speaker Mrs. Grace Wullamatu Bockarie gave another powerful message on the topic “Salvation and Deliverance “which she divided into sub-topics and dealt with each of those sub-topics well.
On Sunday March 7, 2010, a service was held in the Nafayie church building. After the usual Sunday service, the guest speaker concluded the sermon she prepared on salvation and deliverance amidst clapping and laughter which was a sign of appreciation for a topic well preached.

The vote of thanks was given by Mrs. Sundu Mansaray who is the women’s leader in the Alkalia Zone and the chief cook in the conference. In her speech, she thanked all the participants for coming and prayed that on their return, they put every word they have heard to practice so that they will gain the much needed salvation and deliverance.

The National Co-ordinator of Christian Reformed church in Sierra Leone Rev. John Phiri gave the final vote of thanks to all those that were present at the conference. He urged the participants to put into practice what they have learnt in the conference. He went on to say that if we hear the word of God and do nothing about it then it means we have suffered to come to Nanfayie for nothing. Go and do what you have learnt and you shall live. I pray that you put God’s word in practice.
compiled and Published by:
Secretary SL and BC Partnership (Sierra Leone branch)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Blog Lessons

Here we sit in the CRC SL offices learning how to use the Blog for better communication with brothers and sisters across the globe: Sierra Leone and BC. For those who know me (Dennis) you are laughing right now because you know that I am not much of an IT expert.

Moving Forward Together

Greetings from the offices of the CRC in SL. I (Dennis deGroot) have had the great joy of meeting with brothers and sisters in Koinadugu District over the course of the last ten days. My main purpose in being here has been to meet with the students, staff and board of CRC Primary School to discuss our future together. We have also had two meetings with the Partnership Committee here in order to find our way together on a few key strategies. There are many possibilities but we will begin together on initiatives that have already been started and support them as best we can. I know that we are all eager to begin, however setting a firm foundation is key in having this be a sustainable and healthy relationship.

It has been my great pleasure to spend time with the newly appointed evangelist Ezekiel Sudu (centre in white) and his wife Tabitha and their children Gift, Marvelous and Victor. Gift and Marvelous are students at CRC Primary and Victor is still at home with Mom. The family seems like such a great fit for Sierra Leone and I am confident that God will use the family for his work here in SL.

I was also able to spend the better part of a day at the annual women's conference in Nanfiye. More than 100 women attended from churches all over district. They had invited a guest speaker who addressed them over the three days. I was also able to address them on the Friday afternoon. A good rehearsal for my sermon on the Sunday in Kabala. Nanifye is about three hours from Kabala by Land Cruiser. The first half of the road is not too bad but the last half could produce some butter in a hurry should one find some cream. This might be possible since there are Fullah herders in those parts.