Sierra Leone | Living a Life of Faith
|Rev. Plummer Bailor holds a diploma in construction engineering, an undergraduate degree in physics, and a master’s in organizational management with a concentration in organizational leadership.|
The couple co-founded The Refiner’s Place, Inc., a Christian organization whose mission is to strengthen and resource churches around the world. They partner with congregations and civic groups to conduct training and seminars, workshops and conferences. They also partner with community organizations to build schools and churches. Their most recent achievement is the Sierra Leone Schools and Evangelism Project in Bombali District. In this interview, Reverend Plummer Bailor talks faith, family, school and community in Sierra Leone, where he was born and raised.
Sewa News: How would you describe your faith?
Rev. Bailor: I operate in the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and have strong commitment to discipleship and leadership development. I believe the concept of "One Heavenly Citizenship for All Who Believe" is reflected in my ability to transcend barriers with the gospel message through ministry and preaching.
Sewa News: I'd like to take you back to where your discipleship probably began: Okaymori neighborhood.
Rev. Bailor: I spent the longest time in Okaymori in Freetown, which was part of Central One. The Albert Academy, where my parents were both principal (dad) and vice principal (mom), had housing for staff and I grew up on that campus.
Sewa News: Tell us about some of the most memorable moments in Okaymori.
Rev. Bailor: Wow! As you can probably imagine, my memories are varied. Let’s start with places. The Albert Academy was one of the only schools in Freetown that had a boarding department for boys only. I recall spending a lot of time with the guys at the boarding home and wanting to be like them; wanting to eat what they ate and do what they did. This meant that I learned to do things as a pre-teen that teenagers were doing. Your imagination can go wild on that one and it wouldn’t be too far wrong.
There was never a time when our home was not full. I have four older siblings, three brothers and a sister, but I don’t recall ever having less than fifteen people living in our home. My parents were always bringing home someone who needed a place to stay. It always started with a few days, and before you knew it, they were graduating high school or college from our home. This experience has served me really well in my professional life as I get to deal with many different personalities and cultures.
I may sound biased, but I believe, in that time, the Albert Academy was one of the best high schools in the country. It was the school of choice for the children of foreign dignitaries including ambassadors and high commissioners of many countries. I recall my parents hosting dinners and such at our home and having to mingle with them.
I remember the guys from the Okaymori neighborhood coming to our home at three and four o’clock in the mornings on special holidays like Christmas, New Year, Easter and Ramadan. They would be drunk or high and singing at the top of their voices with makeshift instruments. It sounds weird, but it was expected by my parents, and they always had something good waiting for them. We looked forward to those early morning wake-up calls.
There was a group called Tetina, which I believe had its roots in an indescribable place called Texas, a diverse community that had its own rules and was considered a “bad” place by government officials because this is where supposed vagrants congregated to smoke marijuana and plan riots. In my experience, this was farthest from the truth. Tetina made excellent Sierra Leonean folk music, and built floats that competed whenever there was a parade like at the end of Ramadan. Most of my pre-teen and teenage memories as far as entertainment and learning how the “streets” worked are grounded in my experiences at Texas.
Texas was located at the foot of a hill, about a quarter of a mile below our home. Before I even started going to Texas I remember the police raiding the facility several times a week and the people would run up the hill. Some of the guys would come to our home and hide unbeknownst to my parents. Others would run into the forest behind our home. It was always exciting.
Sewa News: What were some of your best school memories?
Rev. Bailor: My memories at the Albert Academy are really all good. I guess because we lived in staff housing, the whole campus was home to me. This was my playground even before I started attending as a high school student. I knew every classroom, every corner and every tree. I knew all the employees including both teaching and non-teaching staff. I knew all the food vendors who came there to sell food during lunch.
As you can imagine, there are perks that go along with being the son of the principal and vice principal. There were also a few teachers who felt like they had to prove a point and be sterner than necessary. Academically, I was a good student always in the top three positions in my class so there really was not much for them to complain about, but I did get it from them at every opportunity they could find. I remember my ears being pulled when no one was around, or the excitement and enthusiasm that some of them showed to give me a spanking when it was not even necessary.
Sixth form students at the Albert Academy wore long pants while first through fifth formers wore shorts. The year I went into fourth form, they started appointing fourth formers as school prefects and all prefects could were long pants instead of shorts. I was elated! To those who didn’t know, I was a sixth- former, and there was an element of pride in that.
Another great memory I have is helping out in the woodwork and metal workshops after school and during summer vacations. It gave me an added advantage when I had to take those classes as part of my academic curriculum. I was familiar with most of the tools and drawings so those classes were a breeze.
The Albert Academy had a great athletic program and I remember joining the crowds on the street to sing songs on the way home after athletic meets like the inter-secondary track and field events, or football matches.
I was an East End Lions fan but I’m not sure I had a favorite player. I learned to really appreciate the skills and talents of folks that were not even on my team. My dad used to take me to football matches as a kid at the Brookfields stadium before they moved the games to King Tom and then back to the Siaka Stevens stadium. By then, I was a teenager and preferred to go with the guys from Texas which was a whole other experience on its own.
Join Pastor Plummer Bailor Sundays at 9 am