My name is Zainab Precious Umara and I am a Sierra Leonean. I was born in a village called Morkaba to a very poor family. I was the first born and the only child to live here. We moved to another village where my parents would be able to farm. It was here that my brothers were born. We stayed there for quite a long time. One day when my youngest brother was about three months old my mother felt very sick. My father took her to a nearby village to see the local witch doctor. He treated her but she grew continually worse. On one early morning she jumped on the bed that she was laying in, screamed out of her mind and gave up her last breath. Our father died three months later and life became more difficult.
My grandmother took us in and we lived with her for three good years. When I was nine one of grandmother’s nephews came and took me to Freetown, our capital city. He left me with a woman who took me in and loved me as her own. She took great care of me and everything was good and the future looked bright. I began attending school in Freetown at the age of 10 and I was put into grade 2 and sat for the national exam at the end of the year. I scored the highest out of all of the children. My teachers grew to love me for my hard work and effort.
However, for some unknown reason the woman I lived with grew to resent me. She stopped sending me to school with lunch and I went to bed with an empty stomach on most nights. Life became dismal living with her. I don’t know what caused her sudden hatred.
I grew stubborn and began sleeping on the streets and doing anything to get some food. One day the woman took me back to my grandmother’s village. My grandmother was forced to take me in, even though she was unable to care for both my brother and I. At that time I was 14 and in grade 5. It was here that I first met Pastor Francis Rogers. He enlisted my brother and I into his feeding program and planned to move us into an orphanage he was building. God had other plans for us and allowed a fierce storm to destroy the orphanage building and delayed any consistent care.
In 2008 I was in grade 6. We had nothing or very little to eat. My grandmother loved us, but had no good means of taking care of us. I began hanging out with the wrong group of people. I attended church only to get some food or financial assistance from the congregation. My outlook on life was poor and I chose to sleep with a boy just for money. I know God allowed me to get to this point in my life to bring me to my senses so that I would commit myself to following Him.
Ephesians 6:13 says “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
James 2:26 says “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.
James 1:6 says “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he that doubts is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”
Luke 15:17 says “And when he came to himself, he said, “How many hired servants of my father have bread enough to spare and I perish with hunger.”
When I read these four scriptures I repented of my sins and asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. I am thankful to the Lord for making me who I am today through all of the struggles I faced. Since then my story has drastically changed. I am now a new woman according to 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” I grew spiritually each day and began serving the Lord. God brought David Tanner, Phil d’Entremont, and Karen and Sandy Baird into our lives. These individuals set us in a direction that God ordained. Two children’s homes have been built, a fresh-water well has been installed, communication with Christians in America has been established and relationships are growing and giving us further hope. We all attend school and we receive medical care. All of this has been done and accomplished through the love of Christ and to the glory of God. The Sierra Leone Project of New Hope Initiative has become a beacon of light in our dark country. This project has led many to Christ and is a witness to all of His love.
I thank Pastor Rogers for all he does for me and all the children in the home and in the surrounding villages. He has become my mentor, given me the name Precious, and is training me to be the future orphanage director. When my grandmother passed away, he wept with me for days. I also thank New Hope Initiative and all those contributing to our life through finances and prayers. We would not be where we are without you following God’s will. May God bless you all.
By Zainab Umara