In January, Rev. Istifanus B. Bahago assumed leadership and program development for the quickly growing Christian Reformed Church of Sierra Leone.

Bahago took the position on behalf of the Christian Reformed Church of North America and the Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria (CRCN), for which Bahago was a seminary professor and most recently served as president.

He replaces Rev. John Phiri, director of lay training and empowerment for the Reformed Church in Zambia, who has been serving for many years in the position.

Rev. Ezekiel Sudu, another CRCN missionary, and his family joined Phiri in 2011 or so and are continuing to serve in Sierra Leone.

Bahago and his wife, Jemimah, recently relocated to Sierra Leone with two of their children to begin the work.

Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM), along with the CRC of Nigeria, have joined to help to define and support the ministry of Bahago.

CRWM has been engaged in ministry in Sierra Leone for many years and stood by people during the country’s bloody civil war that ended in 2002.

Since that time, CRWM has been involved in evangelism efforts and partnerships that have helped spur tremendous growth of churches in Sierra Leone.

The CRC of Sierra Leone now consists of more than 5,500 believers and 62 congregations that are increasingly organizing and functioning as a denomination. World Renew, the CRC’s disaster-relief and development agency, is also at work in Sierra Leone.

Along with overseeing the ministry in Sierra Leone, Bahago will help the CRC of Sierra Leone organize its ministries, mentor and train leaders, build vision and awareness and increase involvement between the CRC of Sierra Leone and churches and ministries worldwide.

In a recent letter he sent out to a range of supporters, including officials with CRWM, Phiri said he had officially handed the mission field over to Bahago.

“I thank you all for your great support that you gave me while I and my family served in this mission field,” he writes.

“My humble request is that you may continue your good support for the mission field and Rev. Bahago. He is a timely gift God has given to the mission field. Pray for a smooth adjustment and fruitful results.”

Bahago was born to farmers in Nigeria’s Taraba State. He trained to be a teacher and taught for several years in primary school before answering a call to ministry and attended seminary.

Following seminary, he taught at Veenstra Theological Seminary for 10 years before being elected president and serving the denomination in that capacity.

Bahago has asked churches to keep the church in Sierra Leone in prayer, especially from Feb. 11-16. During this time, church members in Sierra Leone will be fasting and praying as it discerns God’s will and how to best move forward.