Restoration and Church History
“A Serious Blessing”

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“A Serious Blessing”

Sierra Leone: The Turay Family

Mohamed and Abie Turay with their children, circa 1991

In 1989, one year after Mohamed Turay joined the Church in Caldwell, Liberia, war broke out in the country. Mohamed knew he and his family were in danger. After waking from a dream in which a bomb fell near their home and after seeing in a newspaper that people had been beheaded, he saw people in his community leaving as rebels were coming closer to Caldwell, and he resolved to flee. “Come,” he told Abie, his wife. “Today, we’ll not sleep here.” Mohamed took Abie and their children to the border and returned alone to make final arrangements. Just hours before rebels took the city, Mohamed managed to escape and join his family. Mohamed believed the dream was a warning from God. “It was a blessing for my family,” said Mohamed. “A serious blessing.”

The Turays resettled in Bo, Sierra Leone. Although there was no Church presence there, they were encouraged to stay and help establish a branch. They started a home group with only the five members of the Turay family. Not long after they started talking to people about the Church and missionaries arrived, the first baptismal service was held in Bo, with 31 people getting baptized in the Sewa River. Mohamed was soon called to preside over the new Bo Sierra Leone District as one small branch eventually grew into four branches.

In 1991 war broke out again—this time in Sierra Leone—resulting in over a decade of famine and violence. “Rebels were killing civilians,” Mohamed said. “The road to Freetown was blocked.” One day when there was not enough food to feed their children, Mohamed and Abie decided to pray. After their prayer, a Church leader came to their door with a package containing enough money to provide a bag of rice to each family in the district.

When the fighting reached Bo, Mohamed was targeted as a religious leader in the community. He hid from the rebels’ searches until it was possible to reunite with his family and formulate a plan. As they were trying to decide where to go, a young man approached and asked where they were going. “We want to escape from here,” they said. “Follow me,” he answered. After following the young man through the bush for some time, he suddenly disappeared. “By the time we could wink our eyes, we couldn’t see him,” said Mohamed. “That was the greatest miracle, which we will never forget.” As they continued on after the miraculous young man showed them where to go, they worried that their baby’s crying would put them at risk, but, as Mohamed later recalled, “the angels sealed his mouth; he never cried.” They continued through the next two villages but felt they should continue on to another village where they had a relative—but they would have to walk another 18 miles. Fortunately, their trek led them to safety.

After the immediate danger had passed, Mohamed and Abie returned to Bo and joined the other Saints in looking out for one another. “Unity was built among the Church members because nearly every day, we used to go around and check on our members,” said Mohamed. In addition, food, blankets, clothing, and hygiene kits were provided by the fast offerings of Saints around the world—a gift that helped the Turays recognize the value of their own tithes and fast offerings.

Following the war, the Saints in Bo helped rebuild their community. Abie worked in health clinics and shared her training in neonatal resuscitation with other professionals. In 2004 civic and tribal leaders attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the first Church-built chapel in Sierra Leone. Two years later, Mohamed was released after serving 14 years as district president. In reflecting on this service, he said, “I know that the Lord had wanted to use me as an instrument in His hands to do His work.”