Albert was so in love, he agreed to come to his beloved’s church every week. The experience transformed him – so, in return, he transformed the church.
As paid-up romantics will tell you: when you meet ‘the one’, you just know. And Albert thought he had met the love of his life.
Fatama worshipped at a local church in Lunsar, Sierra Leone, and that intrigued him.
‘I saw her regularly attending and was really impressed by her commitment,’ remembers Albert.
‘I wasn’t even a churchgoer, and wouldn’t really call myself a Christian,’ he says.
In for a penny
However, love will find a way. ‘One day, I had the courage to approach her and tell her that I was interested in pursuing a relationship. She said, “Well, if you are interested in me, you will have to start coming to this church.”’
So, as good as his word, Albert started attending Good News Baptist Church every Sunday morning with her. However, just as importantly, he started attending a brand new meeting that took place every Wednesday night.
The church had embarked upon something called Church and Community Transformation (CCT).
‘I knew about a lot of things, but I didn’t know how to put that knowledge to good use.
CCT is a process that helps participants discover their God-given gifts and resources. It encourages them to put those gifts to work – transforming their lives and the lives of the community. Tearfund and its partner organisations are promoting it across the world.
At the heart of the course is a series of Bible studies. For Albert, these were a revelation:
‘I knew about a lot of things, but I didn’t know how to put that knowledge to good use. My eyes were opened to see that if you don’t use these skills, you will be accountable to God.’
Albert confided in Fatama, who he was now getting to know. ‘I told her that I have many gifts, one of which was interior design. She suggested that I go and meet the pastor, which I did. I told him that because of CCT I wanted to put my talents to use for God.’
This was music to the pastor’s ears. The church was in desperate need of renovation and redecoration. They also needed an extension to the church and the pastor’s home next door desperately needed attention.
And so this is how Albert took on the church renovation project. Rather than hiring builders and decorators, he called upon members of the church. In particular he set about motivating the young people, who until then had played very little role in the life of the church.
‘I came to this church with one pair of trousers and one shirt, now I have many. I made myself available to learn and God has blessed us.’
‘I started to get the youths in the church and community involved. The people that ran the Bible studies did such a good job of encouraging me, that I was able to empower the young people.’
The youth even had a say in plans for the redesigned church, which is now complete.
Yes they can!
Albert proudly shows off the renovated and extended church. However, it’s not just the building that has changed.
‘CCT has transformed the whole church’, he says. ‘There were talented singers who had never used their gift to praise God. Now they’re leading our praise and worship. And young people are actively involved – they know they’ve got something to contribute now.’
As for Fatama, who set him off on this journey of transformation: the couple are now happily married.
‘I came to this church with one pair of trousers and one shirt, now I have many. We have two children and a plot of land, all because of CCT. I made myself available to learn and God has blessed us.’
Praise you God, for the incredible gifts and abilities that you have placed inside each one of us. And thank you for each member of Good News Baptist Church that has discovered this glorious truth. Help me to grasp this for myself and put your gifts to use, for your praise and glory.