We were saddened to hear of the death of Pastor MacCarthy on 11th June. Richard wrote these words which were read at his funeral. Pastor MacCarthy leaves behind Sarah his wife and his children Emmanuel James 32, Gabriel Tamba 27, Nicanor 26 and Diana Kumba 11.
Those of us who met Pastor James Maccarthy have fond memories. He was a “gentle and outstanding Christian”. He was a humble man who exerted wide influence through his servant leadership. His faith was there for all to see. He helped pioneer the construction of the “St Andrews” junior school at Maima village in the aftermath of the brutal Civil war that took place 20 years ago.
I remember meeting James in November 2004 at the opening of the St Andrews school in Maima, Kono district. He told me that he was delighted to be back in Kono having been forced out of his home during the Civil War. Kono was the setting of the film “Blood Diamond”, which highlighted the war over conflict diamonds and the army of “drugged child soldiers”. The film accurately depicted the brutality and horror of the war.
James led a group of evacuees as they walked through jungle paths between Kono and Freetown. When he recalled the story, he was almost diffident about the risks of ambush by the rebel army as well as the natural hazards of the jungle. The zig-zag nature of the retreat meant they probably walked 2 or 3 times the straight-line distance of 200km between Kono and Freetown. In truth the family bore the scars of their 40 days in the wilderness as they lost one child along the way and they were not the only family to lose loved ones.
Despite the family loss Pastor James recalled how he thanked God for guiding them through the dangers. James’ faith gave hope to all on that eventful journey. When food ran out and illness began to hit many in their party, it was James who encouraged everyone to keep going. It was an epic escape story of biblical proportions yet recounted with the modesty and understatement that was the essence of the man.
He will be sorely missed by many in the UK and in Sierra Leone alike.
1 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace:
according to thy word;
2 For mine eyes have seen:
3 Which thou hast prepared:
before the face of all people;
4 To be a light to lighten the Gentiles:
and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
Luke 2: 29-32
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen
Richard Bayfield 15th June 2020