Abibatu Bangura was born three years before civil war erupted in Sierra Leone, West Africa. She was the last child in a Christian family of 15 in the Limba tribe, a major ethnic group in the country. In her early years of school, her retired father was unable to provide for her education and general welfare, so her mother was passionate about doing so. But when her mother passed away, Abibatu had to relocate to stay with her aunt who supported her for a while until her business collapsed.
Despite her great financial need, Abibatu took a leap of faith and enrolled at The Evangelical College of Theology (TECT) in Sierra Leone. Her pastor encouraged her to study Community Development with the purpose of ministering to her country’s wounds from the 11-year civil war. Today she’s a first year student in the program, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Abibatu is very thankful for the scholarship she received from Overseas Council. With all her financial ups and downs, she says it has taken away her stress about paying her school fees. “To God be the glory.”
As a result of the civil war from 1991-2002, more than 50,000 people were killed, much of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed and over two million people were displaced as refugees in neighboring countries. The country has made progress towards reconciliation since, but effects of the war continue to be felt including poverty and unemployment.
Lasting impacts of the war were the atrocities committed by the rebels, from murder and rape to mutilation and recruiting children as soldiers. Their trademark unbelievably was to hack off the hands or feet of their victims. In the face of this devastation, Abibatu says her passion is to become a Christian social worker that will transform communities from the ashes of war to grace using Jesus’ approach.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
– Isaiah 61:1-3