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Baptists in Sierra Leone suffer losses in civil war

WASHINGTON (BP)–The offices of the Baptist Convention of Sierra Leone in Freetown as well as Regent Road Baptist Church, the first Baptist church in Africa, founded in 1794, have been burned by rebels of the Revolutionary United Front, according to a Jan. 21 message from the convention’s general secretary, Moses Khanu, to the Baptist World Alliance.
Khanu also voiced concern about the people and churches east of Freetown, the nation’s capital, where most of the fighting is taking place between the rebels and the Sierra Leone government led by President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah with help from a Nigerian-led regional army.
The compound of the European Baptist Mission in Freetown survived a bomb and provided a safe haven for neighboring residents. Detlef Kapteina, EBM Africa secretary, called it “a miracle” that the rebels did not destroy it as they passed by.
“The greatest need now is for food,” Khanu said in an appeal to Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the BWA.
BWAid is working with Khanu and the European Baptist Mission to provide aid as quickly as possible. Recent reports say that troops fighting the rebels now control Freetown, and this could make it easier for ships to deliver food desperately needed for the estimated 1 million refugees in the capital.
There is still no news from interior places like Lunsar and Makeni, Khanu said in his faxed message.
Khanu said he and his family are safe. “The Almighty God saved us. We survived the reign of terror leashed on us by the rebels,” he reported.
“Please continue to pray and hope for restoration in Sierra Leone,” Khanu said.
“It is with great sorrow we send greetings to you from the Baptist World Alliance,” Denton Lotz, BWA general secretary, told K.S. Kamara, president of the convention, which has 76 churches and 6,123 members. “Please know that you are not alone, but that a great company of believers from around the world is surrounding you with prayer and love in this difficult situation, and Baptist World Aid is very eager to help in any way possible.”

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  • Wendy Ryan