When I am weak, then I am strong
The moving story of Samuel Sessay
by Emmanuel Oladipo, Langham Preaching
|Samuel Sessay, Sierra|
Samuel Sessay was two years old when he contracted polio, but it was not diagnosed as polio. His father consulted a diviner who said it was the work of witchcraft, and that his mother was the culprit. Then Samuel’s grandmother consulted her own clairvoyant, and it was agreed that witchcraft was indeed the cause – only this time the responsibility lay with the father! Not surprisingly, the marriage did not last. But this did not change the fact that Samuel was the first son of a high chief, and so he retained a status in the family – even with his disability and despite the fact that his father had 23 other sons (and 54 daughters) from other wives.
Samuel is from Sierra Leone, and at 18 he took himself out of a Koranic education and enrolled in a Catholic school. Although only nominally Muslim, this was enough for his father to drive him away from home. Some missionaries took an interest in the plucky lad and arranged to buy crutches so he could stop having to crawl around on all fours. A Ghanaian Christian family took care of him and this is how he was led to the Lord. He also enrolled in a Bible school. Samuel became a church planter, got married, and had two children before tragedy struck again, in the form of the civil war. He took his family to his ancestral home where he thought they would be safe, but rebels abducted them and killed his wife.
But no adversity keeps Pastor Samuel down. He is now reconciled to his ageing father who has entrusted him with the care of his estate, preparing him to take his place as a chief among his people. Already, Samuel’s voice is a highly respected voice in the community, and even more so in the pulpit.
Pastor Samuel leads one of the more demanding preaching clubs in Africa. The 13 members meet unfailingly twice a month. Each commits to having others evaluate their sermon outline before preaching it. A mini-library operates, but a person must give a review of a book before they can borrow another one. Each one is a member of the local ministers’ fellowship and takes turns to preach on the radio. Others are noticing the quality of the sermons and are requesting to join the club. They are free to do so, beginning as ‘observers’ until they feel able to commit to what is required of members and able to attend a preaching seminar.
In these ways, Samuel is a living example of the paradox of Christian ministry, expressed by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:10: ‘when I am weak, then I am strong.’