NEW 9-minute video defines FGM and addresses what the church in Sierra Leone will do about it! View this new video on the Heart of Ministry page here.

Please receive an offering for Heart of Ministries this year, and help the church in Sierra Leone bring an END to this practice. Read on:

Perhaps you have a seven-year-old girl in your life. If so, then you may not be surprised to hear that seven-year-olds can master logical thinking, can identify feelings of guilt and shame, have developed the ability to self-criticize, and often have a fragile self-esteem. But you may be surprised to hear that, in Sierra Leone, West Africa, this tender age is typically when girls undergo female genital mutilation. FGM is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. In the most extreme cases all that is left, after FGM, is a scar and a small opening for urination. In disgust, you may be tempted to put this aside and stop reading.

But this is why you should keep reading: because our brothers and sisters in The Wesleyan Church there have chosen to be offended not by the idea of FGM, but by the injustice of 85-88% of the girls in their communities being subjected to this. The Sierra Leone church has begun a country-wide campaign to combat this injustice which touches almost every home. We can feel proud and humbled by their courage.

Imagine a world where over 85% of women have early memories of uninvited pain and violence done to the most sensitive area of their bodies. This was true for Fatu. She was so young when she was circumcised (another term for FGM) that she cannot remember her age. She had no idea what was happening until she was laid out on a bed with women holding down her arms and legs. A piece of cloth was placed in her mouth to muffle the screams that were sure to come. Now a woman with grown children of her own, Fatu has spent years seeking freedom from the physical, emotional and even spiritual oppression she endured so long ago.

Rev. Usman Fornah, the national superintendent of the Wesleyan Church in Sierra Leone, shares that, “FGM lacks any biblical foundation for its practice. It is practiced in secrecy where a Sowe, who is believed to be possessed by demonic powers, presides [over the ceremony].”

The United Nations has banned FGM and declared it a violation of human rights. In the United States and Canada, and 18 other African nations, it is a criminal act. But not in Sierra Leone . . . yet. An informative fact sheet on FGM can be found here .

Rev. Moses Khanu, assistant national superintedant in Sierra Leone, wrote a thesis on FGM because it is such a significant issue in his country. He states, “The Church has a key role in championing the eradication of FGM. [With] a holistic approach and… a wide geographical coverage; this gives the church a great opportunity. The work of NGOs will end with funding, but the work of the church is lasting.”

NGO’s focus their efforts in the capital city and major population areas. But the church already has the infrastructure to reach even the most remote areas of Sierra Leone where the negative consequences of FGM have gone completely unchallenged. The church leaders realize that training and education alone will not be enough to change deeply-entrenched social behavior. This is why the Wesleyan Church plans to implement an approach they are calling inter-generational dialogue: people “listening and asking” rather than being lectured. The method seeks to achieve agreement between young and old, women and men, girls and boys about values and traditions. The dialogue is helped along by trained leaders and provides a protected forum where it is possible to discuss sensitive issues.

A unique thing is happening in Sierra Leone right now. Since the end of the civil war, FGM is no longer a totally taboo topic. It is now possible to discuss it in the media and in public meetings, according to Rev. Moses. While it is never easy to challenge deeply rooted cultural practices, there is a sense that these conversations are more possible than they have ever been before.

There is urgency on the part of the church in Sierra Leone to address this issue. It is horrible that each day girls are suffering needlessly. The church has the personnel, the capacity, and guidance of the Spirit right now to bring change. Their Five-Phase Plan has already been piloted in a couple of villages, with success! They need resources to go national with this ministry, to be God’s voice of love, justice and human dignity and rescue the rising generation of young girls from this vestige of sin and slavery begun centuries ago.

They need our help. We have a window of opportunity to affect a church and a whole country for Christ. Go here to learn, give, pray and engage.

Your offering will help the church in Sierra Leone implement materials for community education in every town where we have churches (and more), provide transportation for volunteer workers, pay for public radio discussions, sponsor meetings with local and national leaders, provide appropriate curriculum for all ages, and develop point persons in each of the six districts of the Wesleyan Church. Your funds could also help subsidize corrective surgeries for women who have serious health problems because of obstructed labor from FGM.

60% of the funds received from HOM 2014 will work to end FGM in Sierra Leone. Another 20% will be donated to World Hope International’s new Domestic Trafficking Initiative (here in North America) and the remaining 20% will go to the Wesleyan Justice Network. 100% will be used in ministry and nothing taken for fund-raising or administration here. Please receive an offering for Heart of Ministries this year!

NEW 9-minute video defines FGM and addresses what the church in Sierra Leone will do about it! View this new video on the Heart of Ministry page here.

Please use wisdom in how this need is communicated in your local church. Videos can be shared with discretion with adults by email, in small groups, classes, etc.