In 2017, the Scottish Presbytery took Mr Sylvester Konteh under-care with a view to training him for the Gospel ministry. Sylvester is a native of Sierra Leone, although he lives in the Gambia with his family. Formerly a Charismatic pastor, Sylvester has come to whole-heartedly embrace the Reformed faith.
Sylvester is able to take long-distance classes through the RP Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, which he started in September. Our aim is to ordain him as a Reformed Presbyterian minister in the Gambia, conditional on him passing Presbytery exams after his studies.
There have been personal links between Sylvester and some of our members for several years. Some members of the RPCS had met Sylvester when they went out to the Gambia with a Scottish-based Christian charity, The Gambia Partnership. It was through this contact that Sylvester was able to receive support to develop in his understanding of the Scripture.
The Gambia is a small country on the west coast of Africa. The population is around 2 million, which is just slightly larger than Northern Ireland’s. Over 90% of the country is Muslim although the Constitution protects freedom of religion. Yahya Jammeh, the previous president, declared the Gambia an Islamic state, going against the Constitution. He was voted out of power in the 2016 elections although refused to accept the result until military intervention from other Western States secured order. Presently, the Gambia is once again legally secular.
Only 4% of the population is considered Christian, although the vast majority of them are under the bondage of Roman Catholicism. Much of the rest of are part of charismatic groups that are have no true Gospel in them. There is a real need for a Reformed witness.
As a former British colony and a member of the Commonwealth, the official language of the Gambia is English although there are various local languages too. Every Sabbath, Sylvester preaches in English to a small group of believers to teach them the Reformed faith.
Sylvester recently wrote in the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary newsletter:
“My sincere thanks and appreciation to God and all those paying for my fees. May God richly bless you and your families. My life is greatly impacted by this generous giving.”
Sylvester further speaks about the impact of one of his courses on mercy. “The lectures have reminded us and motivated us to start something small, which we hope and pray will lead to more widowed families being ministered to through the Gospel. Since we started a meal after worship, we have seen all the widows who left us a while ago coming back into the church. We see children who were not interested in church coming to church every Sunday. Youths are constantly coming to church. During meal time after church, we have time to talk to members who usually just run off after the service. We are praying and looking for more ways to help the poor.”
Please remember Sylvester in your prayers as he continues his education. Pray that God would allow a Reformed Presbyterian Church to be established in the Gambia to bring the Gospel to this needy nation.