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Before you begin reading, I’d like to share a bit of background information.
As with many books, Living By Faith began as a short story. Its purpose was to introduce others to a small community village in the tiny country of Gambia with the hopes of helping them become self-sufficient through the sale of the amazing artwork created by Fanta, the teenage sister of Saikou.
I met Saikou on the internet and have since gotten to know his entire family, and also his Pastor and his family, and many others in their village. Their strong faith in God and each other, matched with incredible resilience, continues to inspire me and many others with whom I have shared their story.
It soon became clear that the mission was much more significant than a booklet. In fact, as I began compiling the information, the story revealed a life of its own. Telling the story of this family’s faith and the actions they have taken became a mission in helping others follow their own journey.
As I was writing this book, I became even more aware of my own faith journey. I chatted over the computer with Saikou almost every day, and these chats were then woven into the story in the book. While dates and times are not always considered important enough to keep to those in Yonna, people and events are well remembered.
It was a challenge at times to ensure that the people, places, and events included were accurate and retained the authentic sentiment. Toward this goal, I avoided any form of embellishment, too.
While I did take time to explore the country of Gambia, including its complex history, culture, government, and people, I wrote the book from the information given to me by the people themselves.
In this book, you will meet Saikou and Fanta and their mother, Jarray. A tragic accident took them from poverty to the very brink of despair. Even in such dire circumstances, Saikou refused to concede defeat.
You will also meet their Pastor and beloved friend, John. Similarly fighting poverty, John cannot offer any physical help. Still, he and his family continue to provide emotional and spiritual friendship.
Along the way, you will meet others, once orphaned, who become a part of the family out of compassion and selflessness. Will Rogers is quoted as saying, “A stranger is just a friend I haven’t met yet.” Saikou’s family takes that a step further, as you will read.
I hope that as you read through this book, you get to know Saikou’s family and his village. Understand and appreciate their lives and experiences and discover their unyielding faith as you explore your own life and faith.
As I was researching and writing Living By Faith, I found myself seeking ways to extend my own faith journey and to similarly help others. I continue to be inspired by the people of Yonna, and also by the friends here who have reached out to help people they might never meet. People are genuinely compassionate toward others, regardless of race, religion, country, or other differences. Indeed, we share more in common than not.
“God has chosen us to help one another.”