Friday, September 17, 2021

Remembering the Shining Light of BISHOP JOHN K. YAMBASU 


Friends, welcome!   Des amis, bienvenue! 

Last week I blogged about letting our lights shine. Let me, this week, share memories of a tremendous shining light--the light of Bishop John K. Yambasu, shining in Africa and the greater world. His earthly life ended in an auto accident near Freetown, largest city in Sierra Leone, W. Africa recently.  Bishop Yambasu was en-route to northern Sierra Leone on church business. His light shines on.

I blog about him today in sadness. I’m sad that he’s gone from this earth. Sad that the cause of death was reckless driving on someone’s part. I wish I could write about "wreckless" driving instead of reckless driving.

A native of Sierra Leone, John Yambasu obtained grade school  and high school education in a mission schools as well his  university education at Njala University College, Sierra Leone.  He studied theology in the United States at Candler School of Theology, Atlanta, Georgia, graduating in 1999.

 I had the great pleasure of meeting Yambasu in person--in Portland, Oregon, western U.S.A., in 2016. The bishop was in that city--my city--attending the worldwide General Conference of The United Methodist Church. My wife and I were at the conference as guests.  In a hallway during a break I was chatting with a friend--Bishop Mary Ann Swenson--in a hallway of the Convention Center. Bishop Swenson saw Bishop Yambasu approaching and eagerly invited him to join us so that she could introduce me to Bishop Yambasu. (Bishop Swenson knew me from our Tacoma days, where she was my family’s pastor in the 1960s. She knew that I had researched and travelled in Sierra Leone.)

 “Oh, John,” she said. “This is Dr. Darrell Reeck. He’s lived in Sierra Leone.”

 After Mary Ann's introduction, Bishop Yambasu put out his hand greeted me in a warm and friendly manner. Yes, actually, with the traditional Sierra Leone handshake-finger snap combination.  His broad grin made me feel at ease at once. I told him of my research in Taiama, a Sierra Leone town close to the bishop’s undergraduate college at Njala. We also conversed about Freetown and Bo, Sierra Leone--two other cities we both knew well.

Shortly, he said something like “Farewell, Darrell. Visit me in Sierra Leone next time you’re there.” Then he was gone--off on his way to a committee meeting.

That very sweet, simple conversation with Yambasu brought him to my attention.  The conversation remains in indelible memory. Sadly, Yambasu is deceased, but he lives on in the memories of thousands of us--Africans and Americans and hundreds of from other nations. We all remember Bishop Yasmbasu’s  concerns for children, religious congregations, the nation of Sierra Leone and other nations of Africa. Bishop Yambasu was a role model for sure. His light lives on. May we all walk in his shining light.

I'm very grateful to be able to meet with you on-line and to shine a little light. Please share this blogsite with your friends and please return every week.  /signed: Darrell 


Resource for further reading: “John K. Yambasu,” an article in

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