GTF Bible Institute
In September 2010, Gather The Fragments Bible Institute opened its doors to those desiring to learn the Word of God. Many of our initial students fell away as they learned the practical application of Ecclesiastes 12:2 which says, “Much study is a weariness of the flesh.” On June 25, 2014 we graduated four hard-working, dedicated students.
Along with book and classroom instruction, part of the course work required for graduation is the Evangelism Practical where students assist with evangelism, teaching, and preaching at our Partner Churches throughout the country during the Dry Season Circuit. This combination of classroom and life settings, makes for solid graduates who can capable handle questions from all religious sides, giving answers from scripture. It’s been a joy to watch these men grow in confidence as they learn to earnestly contend for the faith without being contentious. They are also learning the art of personal work and not simply rushing people to a “decision” or a “repeat-after-me prayer” which is so pervasive in West Africa.
During the protracted Ebola Crisis in 2014-2016, the Institute lost all students due to strict governmental mandates on group gatherings. The first six months of the current Covid-19 pandemic, we felt the same tightening of regulations. The GTF Bible Institute currently has no students though there is growing interest among our church membership for classes to resume.
Reviving, revitalizing, and reopening the Bible Institute will be a main focus for Brother Stephen Mustard who, with his wife and children, is joining the GTF ministry in May 2021.
“Little Fragments” is the name given to our children’s ministry. Children, especially orphans, are little fragments which often fall through the cracks of life in Sierra Leone. With Laura’s return to the States in 2017 due to her failing health, this ministry has been on hold.
Now, with the addition of the Stephen Mustard family in May 2021, the GTF mission will be able to rekindle and eventually expand this work. Stephen, his wife Rebekah, and their children will begin by focusing on Children’s Church at The Bible Mission Church in our home town, Baomahun.
Additionally, the mission regularly receives requests from primary schools throughout our Valunia Chiefdom to bring Bible classes geared to grades 1-6. Implementing CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship) style classes in this venue is a future goal for the Mustard family as they settle into their new life with the GTF Bible Mission.
Dry Season Circuit
Revelation 3:2 tells us to "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.” In accordance with this admonition, Gather The Fragment Bible Mission has developed a circuit of Partner Churches throughout Sierra Leone for the purpose of strengthening and encouraging our struggling brethren who are not equipped to withstand the mounting pressure from Islam. Following the military model of “exportable training” we take the school to the students. This gives the added advantage of training these men and women on their home turf as well as affording time for evangelism within their own villages, towns and cities. We are continually adding churches, both rural and urban, to our ever expanding circuit. Students and graduates from GTF Institute, as well as members of The Bible Mission Church assist with this work giving them valuable experience, and affording them the opportunity to be a blessing and encouragement to their African brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Bible Mission Church
As a missionary-teacher, one of my responsibilities is to help my students recognize their gifts from God, and then provide opportunity for those gifts to be developed, guiding my students as they grow. Whether it’s teaching Sunday school lessons for children or adults, preaching, song leading, visitation, or traveling the dry-season evangelism circuit, The Bible Mission Church provides many venues for the institute students as well as church members to truly grow in their faith.
The Bible Mission Church was founded in January 2012. Five years later, institute graduate, Alfred Menjor was ordained as the first pastor. I told the members from the start that this is their church; I will guide, encourage, teach, and disciple but all from the background. They know my position is that of mentor not pastor, and they have directed the church leadership following their culturally familiar tribal model from the first day.
The Bible Mission Church is a vibrant, growing church, both spiritually and in numbers. Looking down the hill from the house you can see our building which currently functions as both institute classroom and church. During the 2021-22 dry season (December-June), we have plans to erect a steel building to serve as the church building for our growing congregation. That move will open this building to be used for children’s church affording sufficient room for indoor activities during the rains. This new church building will be on a newly acquired piece of property at the entering of the village, giving it a prominent exposure.
It should be noted that the church name was chosen by the membership and is intended to denote the the mission of the church — that of taking the Bible message outside the church.
We all know the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In Lamentations 3:51 the Bible says it this way, “Mine eye effecteth mine heart.”
With the world’s fourth lowest literacy rate, Sierra Leone is a field requiring different evangelism tools. Commonly used gospel tracts and scripture portions are sealed to over 70% of the population. Recognizing this, we have developed what we call Illustrated Evangelism: a means of bringing the gospel through pictures.
We regularly use large scale banner-style pictures for public preaching, children and adult Bible classes, and in churches and schools throughout the country where we have open invitations to teach Bible lessons. For door-to-door visitation we have developed evangelism booklets. These booklets use only pictures; there are no words. This makes it possible for even our illiterate workers to present the gospel in a manner which will hold the attention and interest of the hearers. This format also helps our literate workers to stay focused on one basic Bible story, making their gospel delivery less scattered and more effective.
With her training in illustration and graphic design, Laura is the GTF art department. Now being based in the States due to her debilitating health, Laura can remain a vital part of the mission work in Sierra Leone as she continues to develop new materials for the evangelism effort.
Illustrated Evangelism helps bridge the gulf of illiteracy by visually bringing spiritual light to those who live in great darkness.