In Memory of bishop John K. Yambasu
Bishop Yambasu of the Sierra Leone Area died in a traffic accident on Sunday, August 16th
On Sunday 16. August we received the shocking news that Bishop John K. Yambasu of the Sierra Leone Area of The United Methodist Church, had died in a traffic accident on his way to attend a funeral service in Yonibana in the northern part of Sierra Leone.
Bishop Yambasu’s untimely death is a devastating loss to his wife Mrs. Millicent Yambasu and the couple’s five children and to the United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone.
The Norway annual conference has a strong mission partnership with the UMC in Sierra Leone CELAD (Community Empowerment for Livelihood and Development), and bishop Yambasu was instrumental in setting up and developing this partnership. We knew him as an excellent church leader and a bishop of the highest faith and integrity. His warm heart, his wisdom and his unwavering passion for health, justice and reconciliation was a source of inspiration to many and made him not only an outstanding partner in mission and ministry, but also a strong unifying leader on the continent of Africa and in the world wide United Methodist Church.
Out of a deep sense of calling and passion for the unity in mission of the United Methodist Church, bishop Yambasu initiated and continued to inspire the process that led to the agreement, “the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation” that the upcoming general conference will be asked to act on. He utilized his unique gift to build trust and hope, when he brought together a diverse group of representatives from United Methodist advocacy groups with contrasting views and bishops from around the world to collaborate on finding a way to help the church out of its impasse over human sexuality.
Bishop Yambasu had a leading role in the battle against the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. He was the president of the Africa College of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. He was also the newly elected Chancellor of Africa University.
Born in southern Sierra Leone, Bishop Yambasu studied at United Methodist mission schools. He was a graduate of Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, ordained a deacon in 1987 and an elder in 1990. He served churches in Moyamba and Freetown, until he began to focus on Christian education and youth ministry. He was the Sierra Leone Conference's director for Christian education and youth ministries and founded the Child Rescue Centre in Sierra Leone, serving as its executive director until he became a regional missionary in 2000. In 2008 he was elected to the episcopacy and installed in 2009. He would have turned 64 on August 24.
Bishop Yambasu visited the Norway annual conference on several occasions, and he was the official visiting bishop from the Council of Bishops, at the Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference in 2016, where he preached and also presided during the episcopal address.
To me, bishop Yambasu was not only a cherished colleague but also good friend. He would always greet me by, “ Hello Chris, so good to see you” accompanied by his warm laugher. – I will miss seeing him.
In 2018, I had the privilege to be an official guest at the annual conference in Freetown, where I preached at the opening worship service, and we presided together. During my visit, I had the opportunity to travel with bishop Yambasu to a number of churches, ministries and projects around the country. I experienced his genuine love for his people and for his country, I saw his commitment to build up the country, and I saw his heartfelt desire to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world – Bishop Yambasu modelled the best qualities in Wesleyan servant leadership.
Bishop Yambasu has many friends in the United Methodist Church in Norway and in the Nordic and Baltic area – We mourn his death, and we stand with the United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone in prayer and ministry in this challenging time.
Thanks be to God for the witness and leadership of bishop John K. Yambasu.
Bishop Christian Alsted
Letters of condolence have been sent to Mrs. Millicent Yambasu and to the Sierra Leone Annual Conference.