I have heard a lot of transformational stories, but none has been quite so engaging as Albert’s. We met Albert on a field visit to Good News Baptist Church in Lunsar, Sierra Leone. We were there to learn about the impact of the Church and Community Mobilisation Process (CCMP) on the church and community. The aim of the CCM process is to help people to transform their situation using their own God-given resources in a sustainable way that impacts their whole life.
It was during a meeting in the church that Albert volunteered to share his story of transformation. He stood up and told us that he is a representative of the church’s youth group. He added that all church members had been involved in the rebuilding of the church. This included the young people, who played a vital role in developing the design of the church and providing manual labour. It was evident from Albert and his wife Martha’s account that the process has been effective because it was a whole church decision to engage with the CCM process.
‘Before the CCM process, the church would have paid outsiders to design and build the structure you see today,’ says Albert. ‘When the church started to engage with the CCM process, I was not a Baptist. In fact, I was not even a churchgoer, and wouldn’t really have called myself a Christian.
‘However, I saw a woman who regularly worshipped in the church and I was really impressed by her commitment. So one day, I gathered the courage to approach her and told her that I was interested in pursuing a relationship with her. She said: “Well, if you are interested in me, you will have to start coming to this church.”’
Albert agreed and he started going to the church just as the CCM process started. The leaders were discovering the vision to find local solutions to problems in a holistic way and the church was now engaging with regular Bible studies. He started to participate in the weekly meetings and to worship there on Sundays.
‘Before the CCM process, the young people thought that they had no role to play in developing the church.’
The CCM process made a big impact on Albert and the young people in the church. It helped him to learn how to best use his gifts for God. ‘Though I was knowledgeable about a lot of things, I didn’t know how to use that knowledge. I knew how to paint, but didn’t know how to use this skill in a way that would benefit me. But when I joined the group, the CCM process opened my eyes to see that as church members we have something inside of us. What’s more, if you do not use these skills, you will be accountable to God.’
By this time, Albert was making friends with the woman he was interested in. He had learnt about how to use his God-given skills properly and told her that he had many gifts, one of which was interior design. So she advised him to go and meet the pastor.
‘I informed him [the pastor] that because of the CCM process I wanted to put my gifts to use for God,’ says Albert. ‘The facilitators who led our Bible studies and the CCM process activities did such a good job in encouraging me to learn that I was able to empower the other young people. Now, if you come to church on Sundays, you will see them actively involved in various roles. For example, many are leading our praise and worship because they have been empowered to use their gifts.’
Albert mobilised both youths and young adults to provide manual and skilled labour for the building of the church. Before the CCM process, the church would have paid outsiders to design and build the structure you see today,’ adds Albert.
The CCM process has clearly helped to transform Albert’s personal life, too. His work at the church helped to promote his painting and design business. This attracted more customers and increased his income. ‘I came to the church with just one pair of trousers and a shirt, but now I can boast of having many clothes. I am also a married man. I married the woman who brought me to church. We have two children and a plot of land, and my wife is able to go to college to study nursing and it’s all because of the CCM process.’
The church members were delighted to hear how Albert had mobilised the youth and married the young woman who brought him to church. As we all listened to his story, it was wonderful to hear how it was the pursuit of a girlfriend that brought him to church to encounter God. This, in turn, brought about transformation in his life which spread out into the whole community.
Read more about how the CCM process transforms lives and the hopes and challenges facing young people around the world in Footsteps 109.