Prayer Vigil Buried by Sierra Leone Mudslide That Killed 1,000

Christians in Sierra Leone are still reeling and recovering from the worst flooding their West African nation has faced in recent memory, after a mudslide covered homes and churches on the outskirts of the capital city two weeks ago.

More than 150 Christians lost their lives and hundreds more have been wounded or displaced in the disaster; the total death toll has surpassed 1,000. This week, bodies swept away by the floods washed up as far away as Guinea, 90 miles up the coast from Freetown.

While most in the mountainside town of Regent were sleeping when the mudslide hit, Power of Praise Ministry was holding an all-night prayer vigil. Pastor David S. Dumbuya, his wife, and his children died. One survivor told the Daily Telegraph that he lost 13 of his relatives who attended the event.

“Everybody died. It covered the whole church,” said Saidu Kanu, World Hope International’s country director in Sierra Leone.

Further downhill, the floods landed on the western and central parts of the capital, where the majority of Freetown’s Baptist churches are located, according to the Baptist World Alliance.

Samuel Conteh, a leader with the Baptist Convention of Sierra Leone, reported that Bethany Baptist Church lost 60 members, making it one of the hardest-hit congregations reported so far. (Regent, alongside Mount Sugar Loaf, also happens to be home to the first Baptist church in Africa, founded in 1792 by a formerly enslaved African American who migrated there.)

Several other churches, including fellow Baptist and Pentecostal churches, have death tolls in the dozens, according to Jonathan Titus-Williams, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of Sierra Leone. Many more believers lost their homes in the disaster.

Christians, who make up just 20 percent of the population in the majority-Muslim nation of approximately 7 million people, have led efforts to minister to victims and mourn the dead.

Evangelical and Pentecostal leaders orchestrated a period of fasting, followed by a citywide prayer event during the week following the mudslide, with as many as 300 victims buried in a single day, Titus-Williams said. The Council of Churches of Sierra Leone held an ecumenical service at the mudslide site last weekend.

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Source: Christianity Today