While working in The Gambia, we were keenly aware of the Sierra Leonean Civil War that was raging to the south. Pastor Alvin Smith, who ultimately had to leave the country because of the peril of war, turned his church over to a young African pastor named Edward Saffa.
By 2001 the war in Sierra Leone was resolving. A peace plan, brokered by the United Nations, took hold and slowly the nation began the long road to recovery.
In 2002, the Lighthouse Medical Mission Teams went to Sierra Leone for the first time. For those of us who had been to The Gambia, those early days in Sierra Leone were traumatic. The level of need and the amount of suffering we found in the country eclipsed our expectations. In a word, it was overwhelming.
Thousands of people, each of them in desperate need, descended on our clinic. The lines of people waiting stretched for hundreds of yards and at times even became violent as people became frustrated and angry by the wait.