Throughout 2017, as we celebrate the United Brethren denomination’s 250th anniversary, we are looking at events throughout our history
Moses sent 12 men across the Jordan River to spy out the Promised Land. The United Brethren Church was more efficient. We sent just three men, clear across the Atlantic Ocean, to spy out Sierra Leone.
In 1853 we established the Home, Frontier, and Foreign Missionary Society. It was the forerunner of today’s Global Ministries. We were already doing a good job with the “home” and “frontier” parts. This new organization added the “foreign” part. One of its first decisions was: “That we send one or more missionaries to Africa as soon as practicable.”
Three ministers from Ohio were appointed: W. J. Shuey, Rev. Daniel Flickinger, and D. C. Kumler, who was also a physician. They left New York on January 23, 1855, and arrived in Freetown on February 26, 1855.
The men spent the next 88 days exploring southern Sierra Leone, looking for a place to establish a mission. They took many jaunts up rivers and along the coast, but couldn’t find a promising place to start. Until they came upon Mokelleh, a village of about 600 people. This would be the place.
Their job had been to spy out the land. Shuey felt his job was done, and Kumler was sick, probably with malaria. So on May 3, they returned to America. But Flickinger wanted more than to spy out the land. He, like Caleb, wanted to possess the land. He stayed a total of 14 months, until April 1856.
Mokelleh fell through, but Flickinger set his sights on a place called Shenge. All efforts to arrange anything with the local chief were rebuffed, but when Flickinger left for America in April 1856, he knew Shenge was the place. And when he returned to Sierra Leone eight months later, Shenge is where he started.