We flew out from London Gatwick on Thursday 5th November destined for ‘the smiling coast’ of Africa. As usual a warm welcome awaited our group of 6 which included Rev Angus John (Retired CofS) & Jenny Macdonald, Laura-Jayne Maciver, Kenny MacFadyen, Fiona Coutts & Scott Maciver. Most of the group had previously visited the Gambia with only Fiona Coutts making her first venture out. The short week long visit had been planned in advance to include visits round the 6 Christian sponsored schools, a construction project at one of the schools, a family conference and a visit to a street children project.

We arrived at Mansea Beach Resort in Kololi in the 35 degree heat to be met by some old friends and some new friends both within and without the resort. It was great to be back and to feel so at home in a country so far away. The warmth and approachability of the people is one of the many aspects which endear you to the country.

Each day was begun with a time of worship, a short reading from scripture followed by a few thoughts on the passage and closing in prayer. Leaning on the Lord for guidance and leading in all that we do in the Gambia is of the utmost of importance and it was appropriate to start the day accordingly.

After settling in, Friday saw us visit Child Concern International School. Prior to travelling out to the Gambia, we had transferred over funds to be used for the construction of three new classrooms and an office. The group which had visited the Gambia in February of this year had begun the project constructing one new classroom and laying the foundation for the remaining classrooms and office. The construction project at Child Concern is a very practical way of using Partnership funds effectively. The extra classroom space will enable the school to take in more children providing them with a Christian education.

Friday and Saturday night were spent at a family conference funded by the Partnership at the request of one of the pastors. Amongst the speakers at the conference included Rev Angus John Macdonald and Pastor Reuben Weedor, one of the Partnership’s contacts in the Gambia. The conference stressed the Biblical perspective of the family, of one man and one woman in the face of the polygamy which is widespread in the Gambia. The conference was attended by roughly 50 people and conveyed an important message to all in attendance.

Saturday morning saw the group attend the Saturday Bible class at Child concern. The Bible class is well attended by those living in the area and the numbers attending the younger and older classes are very encouraging and its great to see them being taught from the Word of God.

On the Lord’s Day we attended an International Church 20 minutes walk down the road, which we finally reached after getting lost along the way! We heard an excellent sermon from the pastor which turned out to be on the topic of the family from Genesis 1-3, a token from the Lord following the family conference the previous two evenings.

On Monday we visited a street children project at Kembujeh’s children centre. The project is run by one of the Churches and provides education for 49 nursery school children, 15 of which sleep and are cared for at the centre itself. This is an example of one of the many projects which are doing a great work with limited resources.

The remaining time was spent visiting the 6 sponsored schools, paying the school fees for the 17 sponsored children and providing the schools with various resources, for instance books, toys and footballs. The children were typically enthusiastic and friendly and their bright happy faces proved to be one of the highlights of the trip.

Out with official business, we made many new friends and spent time with old friends. We had opportunity to hand out Bibles and tracts and discuss the Gospel with those who would hear. Overall the time spent in the Gambia was time spent both profitably and enjoyably. We pray that the Lord would give the increase to the seed that has been planted.

‘I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.’ (1 Corinthians 3:6)

Scott Maciver