’Tis the Season to be . . . ?
How do you complete that saying? The world says, “Jolly.” We define jolly as being merry, happy, or cheery. During the Christmas season, it is easy to find ourselves engulfed with experiencing fun, food, and festivities. However, much of the world does know of that kind of Christmas. Much of the world lives in darkness far from the lights of Christmas.
Zechariah’s song of praise about the birth of John the Baptist says . . .
“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 76-79 NIV).
The gospel shines into the dark corners of the earth (John 1:5). Our JESUS film teams are bearers of light. They are modern day John the Baptists. They declare with boldness that the light of the world is Jesus. Those that believe become children of Light. Ephesians 5:8 says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” NIV
So, I ask you again. ’Tis the season to be . . . ? May I suggest “Light”! Let us be children of light. Light bearers. John the Baptists, so that the people who walk in darkness might see a “great light” (Isaiah 9:2). Merry Christmas from your JESUS film teams around the world!
Team Number 44!
In November 2014 a new JESUS film team was trained in Uganda. This team is number 44. Our partner for Uganda is the Penn-Jersey District. Here is the report from District Director of Global Partners Robert Strum who accompanied JESUS Film Director John Croft on this training trip:
Thanks to the overwhelming response of the Penn-Jersey District to the JESUS Film Partnership challenge presented at the district conference last June. Uganda was included as the second country of our partnership. [Note: Penn-Jersey is also partners with Suriname.]
John Croft, Global Partners JESUS Film Partnership Director, Bob Strum, Penn-Jersey District Director of Global Partners, and Alex Mbewe, District Superintendent in Zambia and JESUS Film Partnership Director for Zambia, recently returned from six days in Busia, Uganda, (a town on the border with Kenya), where they conducted training for the JESUS film team and a group of about 40 pastors.
Seminar topics included servant leadership, team building, conflict resolution, strategic planning, church planting, and ministry follow up. The JESUS film team was trained on the operation of the equipment and in expectations of accountability. A “practice” showing of the film took place in Bwaniha, a village about 20 miles southwest of Busia. More than 1,000 people (across the age spectrum) viewed the film, and individual contact information was obtained from 39 who responded to the invitation.
The Wesleyan Church in Uganda traces its roots to home fellowships started in 2000 by Lucas Hamirie and Geoffrey Muliro in their hometown of Busia. They connected with the Pilgrim Wesleyan Church of Zambia and with Global Partners in 2010. There are currently 72 churches—62 in Uganda and 10 in Kenya. Rev Lucas Hamirie serves as the national superintendent; Pastor Muliro serves as the lead pastor for the Busia Wesleyan Church.
With a population of 36.8 million people and an area of 124,000 square miles, Uganda is the world’s second most populous landlocked country bounded on the east by Kenya, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the north by South Sudan, and on the south by Rwanda, Tanzania, and Lake Victoria (the source of the Nile River). Kampala is the capital city with a population of about 1.2 million. Primary roads are paved, and traffic is congested around the larger cities. In the rural areas one-lane dirt roads are the norm. Walking is the most common mode of getting around; bicycles and motor bike taxis are common place. Gasoline was selling for about $5 per gallon. Although the larger churches are of block and concrete construction, it is not unusual to see smaller ones built with bricks that have been made on site or with mud packed in the openings of a wood pole lattice structure.
Pastor Lucas would like to have churches every 5 kilometers or so since most of the people will be walking to the services. It is also his desire that pastors learn a vocational skill in addition to theological training so they are better equipped to provide for their families. Topics for pastoral training include inductive Bible study, sermon preparation, homiletics, and hermeneutics. The pastors are eager to learn. As the JESUS film spurs growth of the church, the need for trained pastors will become more urgent.
JFP Note: Thanks to the Penn-Jersey District and Superintendents Karl and Anita Eastlack for their leadership in this partnership and to Robert Strum for his passion and organization in guiding the partnership between the district and the countries of Suriname and Uganda.
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Stories from the Field
Twenty-five-year-old Aung was under control of a demonic presence that revealed itself three times a month. Aung wanted to attend our JESUS Film Crusade in his village, but his Buddhist family would not allow him to go. Aung disobeyed his family and attended anyway. When the JESUS film team leader, a converted Buddhist monk, prayed for the crowd who had come that evening, he sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to him that someone in attendance was possessed by a demon. He commanded the demon to come out. The demon shouted loudly, and Aung fell to the ground. When the team prayed for him, he was healed and has since attended for days of discipleship seminars conducted for new believers. Pray for Aung.
The Cameroon JESUS film team, “Thunder of Jesus,” showed the film 12 times last month and saw 1,150 new decisions for Christ.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
The Democratic Republic of Congo JESUS film team showed the film seven times last month and saw 685 new decisions for Christ.
In November our JESUS film team worked in Au Cap Haitien. We had a variety of activities: In the morning we worked in the community and also invited people to come watch the JESUS film in the evenings. In Haiti many couples live together, having never been married. As these couples come to Christ, we disciple them, and then we help them get married. Dresses are donated as well as rings. In the past two years, we have helped 40 couples have the wedding they never could have had otherwise. On a recent Saturday, we preformed marriages for seven couples. Pray for these couples as they learn to walk with Jesus together. Pray for this ministry that utilizes the JESUS film as a means of sharing the gospel to bring transformation to individuals, families, and whole communities.
In Kantamanto we saw a woman by the name of Efua come with a stomach ulcer. After the JESUS film was shown, people came forward with various problems, and they were prayed for. Efua got her healing! Thanks be to God!
In Akosombo a drug addict by the name of Asare gave his life to Jesus. He is now in a cell group learning more about Jesus. We give glory to God!
We followed up the JESUS film showing with intensive Bible teachings and revivals. The team was able to guide these new converts on how to read and understand the Bible. Also, they were taught on praying regularly. The team also had discussions with the new converts on how to share their experience and on the challenges of their new life in Christ. We thank God for His protection during and after the program.
There is a place where most of the people are from the Kirat religion. They have not been interested in knowing about Jesus Christ, so no one had ever tried to visit that place to preach the message of Jesus. We want to thank God that He helped us to overcome obstacles and blessed us as we obeyed His call to go.
We reached that place and asked permission from the local people if we could show the JESUS film in their area. A few brothers challenged us, “No, you cannot show the JESUS film in this village. We don’t want to see those films.” So, the only thing we could do in that situation was to keep praying. We prayed all day believing that God had called us and He would open a way. That evening one of the brothers came to us and gave us permission to show the JESUS film.
We started the film with prayer. Many people came out to watch the film. We preached and gave a summary of the film. Suddenly, this band of brothers came at us, ready to attack us. We were fearful for our lives. We were amazed because they had a plan to beat us but were stopped by the Holy Spirit from harming us. With no explanation they proceeded to let us show the film.
We were disappointed because not one person accepted Jesus Christ that night. However, we still thanked Jesus Christ and ran from that place. We returned home safely and thanked God for His grace upon us. He saved us from a possibly dangerous situation. We were more blessed at that place because, at least, He gave us strength to go and we tried to preach the gospel. There are many more places and villages like this where the people are not interested in knowing about Jesus Christ. Please pray for those people and pray for us to. Praise the Lord!
There is an OUTBREAK in Africa! It is like a wave that is overwhelming its shores. Although some have gone to great lengths to try and stop it, it seems like an unstoppable force. No, I am not referring to the Ebola virus. I am talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Once called the “Dark Continent,” the light of the gospel is reaching into the hearts of these great nations. The fastest growth in the number of Christians over the past century has been in sub-Saharan Africa (a roughly 60-fold increase, from fewer than 9 million in 1910 to more than 516 million in 2010— source: Pew Research).
In recent years the explosion of new converts has been largely fueled by the use of the JESUS film that has been translated into almost 1,000 languages in Africa. The JESUS Film Partnership of Global Partners and The Wesleyan Church have teams in nine African countries, with Uganda receiving a team in November making it the tenth. In 2013, of the 101 new church plants started through our JESUS film teams, 62 of them were in Africa.
Whereas the Ebola outbreak has caused great fear and uncertainly, this outbreak of the gospel is cause for great joy and hope for the continent and nations of Africa. As we pray for those effected and threatened by Ebola, let us not forget to pray for those who have placed faith in Christ and those who have yet to hear and know the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The church continues to expand across Africa, including the northern provinces of Mozambique as Rev Abel Nove reports. Here is the actual field report:
On 12 October 2014 in the village of Namiteca converted to Jesus 20 people who have never had an opportunity to attend one church. Namiteca is an area where most people practice the manufacture of alcoholic beverages. So many people of that village, mostly young, are addicted to alcoholic drinks homemade. Now, we have a cell with more than 20 new converts in that village. Now we are to disciple these people to then be baptized for the glory of the Lord Jesus.
Attention: Director John Croft and Dr. John Connor are both available for speaking engagements in 2015. Partner your church in 2015 with the JESUS Film Partnership in evangelism, discipleship, and church planting. Contact Rev John Croft at email@example.com and Dr. John Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join the JFP Facebook family. Visit our page and like us. Then share us with your friends to spread the story of what God is doing around the world. www.facebook.com/jesusfilmpartnership
Stories from the Fields
Praise God! We are alive and doing the Lord’s work. Since the outbreak of the deadly Ebola disease in our country, movement for the team has been restricted to some extent. But we thank God for directing the team to where He really wants to save His lost sheep. Most of these areas were not safe for the team, but the Lord led us through anyway. We were also constrained to travel to targeted areas according to our plans for the year with the JESUS film. We continue to plan on reaching some of these areas at all cost even though it requires risk for the team, yet we trust the Lord to go before us. Thank you for your prayers and support for the team in Liberia.
I Need My Father! When her husband left her and her 14-year-old daughter, their lives were turned upside down. Forced to find work outside the home, she became a housemaid. Her daughter was distraught and could not understand why her father did not love her. Confused and angry, she attempted to commit suicide.
Hearing about the JESUS film, they went hoping to hear hope. After the film we preached about the love of the Father and how His love is deeper and stronger than any earthly father. When we explained that God is our real father, they were thrilled and realized that it was the satisfaction they were seeking. The daughter asked her mother to accept Jesus because she needed her father. Her mother agreed with her, and they both accepted Christ.
Jesus Can Change Customs: She was weeping because, as is their custom, her father had given her in marriage as a child because they owed a large debt to the bridegroom. It is now her hope that they can change the custom and save her younger sister from the same fate. She believes that it can only change as people turn to Jesus. She and her husband and her sister have now all accepted Christ.
From Resistance to Acceptance: “Stop the film!” he yelled.
“Why do you need us to close?” I asked.
“This is our village, and here we are all Hindus. We do not want any foreign religions to come into our place and take our people to their religion,” he said.
The place fell silent, and we feared the police may be called. We began to pray for that place and all those people who were sitting there anticipating the film. Then I told him and the crowd, “In this film of JESUS, you will not find any part where yours or any other religion is being dominated. It is not a film against your gods or goddesses. Let us show you the JESUS film and if any of you find any offense against your religion, you can do anything you want to me. I am ready for any punishment.”
So, starting from the beginning, we showed the film. Everyone was watching it carefully, including the man who called for us to stop and not show it.
When the film was finished, I heartily thanked everyone there for coming. I looked for the man who protested, and he was not there. So we began to pack up the equipment in preparation to head home. When we were about to leave, a man called us and asked us to stop for a moment. It was the man who had so strongly protested our presence and the showing of the film. He introduced us to his wife and told us that he and his wife wanted to accept Christ.
We were surprised! The man who had yelled at us and threatened us only hours earlier was now telling us that he and his wife wanted to accept Christ as their Savior. There are no words to express our joy and thanks to God. We asked him the reason he made the decision to follow Christ. He said, “When I was watching the film, I saw Jesus walking through the crowd when suddenly a blind man called out to Jesus. Jesus stopped and miraculously Jesus healed him. I was that man.”
The JFP Luzon team transported its equipment to the island of Mindoro on the first week of November. As well, please pray for the safety of the Mindanao team as they will take the JESUS film ministry through the middle of November to Muslim territories. Thank you very much.
If you are a follower of the JESUS Film Partnership on Facebook you will remember our post on October 14 (www.facebook.com/jesusfilmpartnership).
Facebook post October 14, 2014:
A member of the JESUSfilm team in Sierra Leone by the name of Rev Alfred Phili is in critical sick condition. He is representing the JESUS film in the south/eastern region. He is a very hard working man. He has been struggling with a serious hip problem for some months, which eventually affected his right foot. He was hospitalized in the government hospital in Bo a week ago. His condition further deteriorated yesterday, and he became very anemic. Blood donation was given to him as requested by the doctor in charge. Presently, he cannot speak, neither freely urinate (blockage). The doctor in charge has out rightly informed family members that he would not survive.
Here is the update on Rev Phili from October 21, 2014:
Even though it appeared that the doctors have given him up, he is gradually responding to treatment. Recent x-ray results show a broken rib, which has affected his right hip. With the present Ebola situation in the country, much attention is not given to other ailments. He is still undergoing treatment. Our fervent prayer is for God's divine healing touch on him. God is working out His purposes. Thanks for praying, and continue to do so. Also, pray for his family who seem to be in a confused state.
Meanwhile, fear continues to grip the hearts of Sierra Leoneans as the Ebola crisis continues. The international community has stepped in, but the challenge is still there. All of the 14 districts now in the country have reported Ebola victims. Our church planting areas in the south/eastern regions continues to be under quarantine. Other areas in the north have also been recently quarantined. No public gathering is allowed, in the daytime or night. However, churches and mosques are allowed to have their regular meeting times.
Please continue to remember JFP team members and their families in different locations, including Liberia. We are strongly believing and hoping that the Ebola crises would come to an end before the year ends. We do appreciate your good work. We are praying for the work in other parts of the world.
Indonesia’s JESUS film team leader joins with a new congregation in a remote village. They are standing in front of a new dam constructed by the JESUS film team and the villagers through the support of Global Partners. This remote village was known as a harbor for criminals, witchcraft, and extreme poverty. Without Jesus they were trapped in a vicious cycle. The JESUS film team has invested their hearts and hard work in reaching the animists, working to bring water to the dry land while bringing the living water of Jesus. This dam will bring irrigation to fields that will soon be rich with vegetation. The local villagers have provided land for the new church plus land for the local church to raise crops to support the church. Please pray for them as they complete the dam this month and begin work on a 1-kilometer irrigation canal that will feed the water to a 50-acre parcel of land for gardens.
Much needed water has been introduced to this once dark, dry village and the surrounding villages, and there is now hope for their future. The Living Water has been introduced, and there is now hope for their eternity. Pray for this Wesleyan church and the water project that it might bear fruit. Fruit that will last (John15:16).
Director John Croft just returned from visiting this new church at the dam, and many others that have been planted on an Indonesian island over the past ten years. In 2004 Rev. Andrew (name changed for security reasons) led a JESUS film team as missionaries to this island. There were no churches, and the challenges were many and great. Today, through your prayer support and financial investments, there are 19 Wesleyan churches on the island. Their main objective has been to reach the animists—a people group that is steeped in ancestral worship and black magic. Our 19 churches are almost completely made up of this people group.
This story and many others like it can be found on our Facebook page. We invite you to visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jesusfilmpartnership and join us there for regular updates from the 43 JESUS film teams we have operating in 24 countries. You will be inspired and challenged to pray. You can even share these stories with your Facebook friends.
Our teams are working hard. God is doing amazing things in some difficult places around the world, but there are real needs that must be met. Several of our teams are needing their equipment either replaced or specific items replaced. As you know, it is hard to predict when something will break down. So it is with our JESUS film teams’ equipment. However, when equipment fails it can mean that a team is not able to show the film for long periods of time. If you would like to help us with some equipment needs, here is a list of needs we have right now.
To help purchase these items, simply send a check made out to Global Partners and in the memo write “New Equipment WM06-0695.” Send checks to Global Partners, PO Box 50434, Indianapolis, IN 46250.
If you are considering investing in the JESUS Film Partnership through a team partnership, we have some outstanding needs as well. We have several teams that need new partnerships if they are to continue with their ministries. Contact Director John Croft for information regarding partnerships at email@example.com or call 317-903-7793.
Stories from the Field
There was a man named Gozen (29) who watched the JESUS film along with his wife, Anita (27). Gozen and his wife were very interested to know more about creation and sin. We took the opportunity to visit their home to share more. After talking for a long time, Gozen and his wife made their decision to accept Christ in their lives. Gozen told us that he loved the film, and it made him think more. He said, "I understand that God sent and gave His son so everyone can get forgiven of their sins. I am Hindu, and I knew only Sree Krisna as God. But by watching the film and discussing with you, I now understand, without a doubt that Jesus gave His life for the sin of the world. I am sure that by accepting and believing in Christ, I will go to heaven."
The result of conducting the JESUS film show is exhibited by this family's decision through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Now they have accepted Christ, and they are connected with the Madra Church. We give thanks to Lord for bringing these new souls into His Kingdom. We pray for their spiritual growth, as well as their personal lives.
CameroonIn August, 2,579 people watched the film with 1,145 responding to the invitation. Thirteen new cells groups were started as a part of the follow-up with the new converts.
In June we showed the JESUS film in La ______ and prayed for a man who was in a wheelchair. When we returned to the same place after a month, we were surprised seeing the same man up and walking. His sister very excitedly gave testimony saying that the next day she prayed, and her brother just got up from the wheelchair and started walking. Glory to God! This has had an impact on the neighborhood and opened up a cell group in that place. We are unable to show the pictures for security reasons.
The villagers came out into the street to help us set up the equipment. After we showed the film, one villager testified, “We often heard about Jesus, but we never knew about Him. We have now seen with our own eyes, and we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior who died for our sins. We will live our lives for Him and spend our time spreading the news about Jesus.”
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from the JESUS film team in Liberia. The Lord has really been good to the team during the Ebola crisis where traveling in any part of Liberia has become a risk for the team members and the equipment. But through it all we praise the Lord for protecting the team and the equipment during the month of August.
We also thank God for the DBA, for their encouragement and the leadership role they play in leading the team. The Wesleyan Church of Liberia is doing everything possible through the JESUS film ministry to reach every county in Liberia with the gospel while this deadly disease is spreading so rapidly.
Even though our plans for the year was interrupted as the result of the Ebola virus, the team was able to reached 823 persons, last month, in Montserrado County with the JESUS film and 515 of them prayed to receive Christ.
Our follow-up teams are not just following these converts to be connected to Christ and the Church but are also creating the Ebola awareness program as we partnership with Community Hope (CHOPE) to kick Ebola out of Liberia. Pray for the Lord’s continued protection upon the team and the equipment as we screen the film in Ebola virus affected communities.
God more powerful than Ebola
Since the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, this deadly disease has taken many lives. In most communities we visited with the JESUS film, the fear for Ebola is more than the fear for God who has power over Ebola and people. In the Gilvah community in Paynesville City, a woman in her late 50s, after watching the film, invited the team to her house for a family screening. At the end of the film, in her family living room, she and her family gave their lives to the Lord that evening. She said since God has power over Ebola and human beings, she and her family prefer giving their lives to Jesus. She and her family has promised to follow the Lord at all cost. Pray for this family against the virus because this is one of the communities Ebola virus is actively attacking.
Due to the vehicle breaking down, our JESUS film team could not go to the villages we had planned to go, because they are too far. However, we visited some areas closer where we had planted churches through the JESUS film. We spent our time making disciples, teaching seminars for local leaders, and finding tremendous growth in these churches. With God's help, we hope that our transportation will be fixed very soon to continue with work. This image is of the local church planted by the JESUS film team at Maratane, which is composed of refugees from DRC.
Conversation with a seeker
Seeker: What if I believe in Jesus Christ? Will I be able to change my life? I get depressed thinking there's no hope for my life. I don’t know why these things happen to me only. But when I was watching the film where Christ allows children to come to Him, I began to wonder what would change if Jesus would let me come to Him.
JESUS film team member: Christ came to this world because He loves us and to save us from our sins. To save His children whom we are called His. You have seen the sacrifice that Jesus has made for you. Accept this gift and live for Him.
Seeker: I do, and no matter what happens in life, if Christ is with me then I should move on because I believe one day God will bring me to victory.
The seeker, Kiran, along with three of his friends, accepted Christ. Pray for their spiritual growth and development. Pray for them, as they will face many obstacles to their new faith in Christ.
Can this man Jesus heal my wife?
“Hello! I have been watching the JESUS film from the beginning, hearing the words, and I really loved it”. That’s how Ram introduced himself to us. “I am by profession a witchdoctor. If someone gets sick, then I go to their house and do some rituals. I ask the owner of the house to sacrifice some animals, and then I will take that for my family and myself. Though I do all these rituals to others, I cannot heal my own wife. She has been suffering from headaches for eight years now. Because of her headaches, she has almost become mentally ill. I have performed many rituals for her but nothing happens. I sent her to hospitals in the city for her proper check-up, but everything has become too expensive and doctors are charging a lot for taking many kinds of tests. We have become really depressed. And this evening while watching JESUS film, I saw Christ healing many people. He even raised the dead ones. I suddenly got hope for my wife. Maybe this man can heal my wife. So, I want to understand if there's anything that I can do for my wife to be healed?”
Then I told him, “Praise God for he has spoken into your heart. God does not differentiate between anyone. We are all equal in His eyes because we are His children. If we have strong faith in Him and ask anything of God in His name, then surely He will hear us. He says He will give us the desire of our hearts. There is nothing that Christ cannot do. But more importantly, Christ wants to have a personal relationship with you and your wife. Yes, He can heal, but He wants you to know Him and to accept His gift of salvation, which is free.”
Just after saying this, he invited us to come his house and pray for his wife. The next day we went to his house, and he introduced his family to us. We shared from the Word of God, and then we started praying for the wife. We prayed for salvation and healing. We invited them to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, which they gladly did. Then the man gathered his tools of witchcraft and superstition. Together we destroyed them. We gave them a couple Bibles and instructed them to study the Word day and night.
After a few days, we received a call from him, and he testified that the evil spirits have left their house. Now they are not facing any kind of fear in their house, and his wife's headaches are also reducing and getting better. Really that was great news from someone who used to worship idols and perform dark superstitious rituals. Now all of his family members are attending church. Thank God for His great love to the lost ones!
The team went on one of the farthest trips we have done, in Cervantes, part of Ilocos Sur Province.
We were amazed how God worked in that place because several evangelical groups have attempted to open work in that area but have been unsuccessful due to the hostility of the citizens. On the night of the show, I asked our projectionist to start the JESUS film at exact 6:30 in the evening, knowing the film will take two hours. There were only, more or less, 10 viewers at that time, and I was afraid nobody would come. However, we began to realize that people were just waiting for the film to start. Eventually there 132 viewers, and large number of those responded to the invitation.
Follow-up is now ongoing to establish a new church plant in that area. We covet your prayers for this new work.
Greetings from Freetown, Sierra Leone! We deeply appreciate all of your sincere prayers for our beloved nation, as we continue to struggle with the deadly Ebola virus. I am fully persuaded and convinced that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. The situation continues to be uncertain, as people continue to die, while many areas continue to be quarantined. There is sure HOPE in the Lord.
One of the greatest strategies of the enemy is FEAR. It is very apparent now in the nation that fear has gripped all individuals. Fear of the unknown, especially what would happen next to each one of us. In the midst of all this, the church is now realizing that we have a strong, positive role to play in restoring hope and happiness to our people. It is also now a strong opportunity to preach the undiluted Word of God (in love), and usher people to repentance and salvation. The church is sure the true hope for every nation.
GUESS WHAT?! Churches are getting full to capacity every Sunday, despite the raining season. Parishioners across the nation are yearning for an ANSWER from God, towards the eradication of this deadly Ebola disease. Great opportunity! God can even allow a bad situation for His own good (Romans 8:28-29).
Many people are giving their lives to Jesus Christ, with many more rededicating their lives. We also observed a baptism of newly repented individuals.
Please continue to join our Sierra Leonean brothers and sister in prayers for the following:
Rev. Warren Fornah
Director of the JESUS Film
The Wesleyan Church of Sierra Leone