Bearing One Another’s Burdens with the Women of Sierra Leone
October 13, 2016
Ashley Turner, wife of Just Hope’s president, Ben Turner, joined our team on a recent leadership trip to Ghana and Sierra Leone. Ashley beautifully shares her experience at a women’s conference she led in Lunsar, Sierra Leone with Just Hope’s founder, Karen Bruton.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Psalm 107:1-3
These verses sum up how we started our time with the beautiful women of Sierra Leone, West Africa, who find their incredible strength and trust in the name of Jesus. They know what it is like to carry burdens and not have anyone to share them with. Isolation brings loneliness, discouragement, and a sense of hopelessness. I know what it is like to carry shame, guilt, and burdens around and to feel alone. God comforts us in all our tribulation so we can comfort others with the same comfort He gives us. He called me out of darkness and redeemed my life. He gave me beauty for ashes. I am a new creation in Christ and my worth is found in Him alone. This was the message I felt compelled to share.
The women literally came from the east, west, north, and south of Sierra Leone on foot, motorbikes, or vehicles for miles to be encouraged. While God was working through me to encourage these women, He was working through these women to encourage me. We had a time where we shared our testimonies. We heard story after story of hurting women, but for every story there was a song of praise for Gods love and faithfulness. In the face of death, rejection, and suffering, praise and thankfulness was continually on their lips. They sang, “Tell Him, tell Him, thank you, tell Papa God thank you.”
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
The next part of our time with these ladies was a time of sharing burdens with one another in small groups. The culture of the women in Sierra Leone is to keep their hurts and burdens to themselves resulting in feeling alone in their struggles. The women were able to share and have other women listen and pray specifically for them. I watched as the women opened up and shared. They sang praises to the God who hears and the God who heals.
We then went outside and had a time where we gave our burdens to the Lord and laid them at the cross and burned them as a symbol of what it talks about in Isaiah 61:3, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. These women walked away with a feeling of hope, Just Hope! We were making an “Impact That Lasts” by encouraging these women to place their hope in the one thing that truly lasts. These women are remarkable women of strength and beauty.