As of May 1st, we have lived in Liberia for two years. I would like to say that it has been an awesomely great two years where everything has gone smoothly without any hitches. I would like to say that, but it would not be true. It has been a difficult two years for us. After thirty years of mission service we found ourselves back in the position of being new Missionaries. It has been both a frustrating and humbling experience. I won’t bore you with all the things we had to learn, and in some cases re-learn, and mistakes we’ve made in the process of that experience. Instead there are exciting things happening that I want to share.
I am very pleased with the direction that the Liberia Evangelical Mission (LEM) is taking. LEM has expanded from having two Member Congregations, three Affiliate Congregations and two Daughter Churches to having five full-fledged Members, six Affiliate Churches, an Affiliate Children’s Home/School/Church and two daughter Churches. Its presence has expanded from just one to four counties. While becoming an Affiliate Church does not mean nor guarantee future Membership, it is an important step in establishing a relationship between a local congregation and LEM. All of the new Affiliate Congregations are “upcountry,” meaning that they are outside of Monrovia.
I had the opportunity to visit four of the new Affiliates. I don’t think that you want a detailed account of the entire trip, so I will mention just two of the stops. Sackie Bomota is a village in Bong County that is only accessible by foot. After driving to the end of the road there is an hour and a half walk to reach the community. The community has given land for a church to be erected. When we were there a temporary structure made entirely out of bamboo (walls, roof and benches) was being used. There was a good group of Brothers and Sisters. They have also begun a School for the community. The “Pastor” is a Brother who has been placed in charge, but has had no training and may himself be a rather new Christian. The needs are obvious; a rain proof building, training for the Pastor, Christian Education materials for the Brothers and Educational Supplies for the School. Sackie Bomota is an important location for future expansion of the Gospel. On a recent return visit, LEM’s Missionary visited an additional 14 villages that surround Sackie Bomota, many of them without schools or churches. Please pray for this Congregation and the surrounding area. LEM is willing to go, but it needs God’s provision of Missionaries, money and materials in order for its willingness to become reality. Sackie Bomota will remain imbedded in my memory for one other reason as well. I had my first taste of grubs at supper there – not too bad, kind of a nutty flavor!
The New Generation Evangelical Children’s Home/School/Church (NGECH) in Ziensu, also in Bong County, was another stop on the trip. NGECH is the vision of brother Henry Wennie. At the end of the Liberian civil war he became involved in the disarming of child soldiers. That experience led to his establishing a Children’s Home/School/Church in a small community near Ziensu. The children’s home currently is a bedroom in Pastor Wennie’s home where he takes care of eight children while the School/Church facility consists of a ramshackle room furnished with two benches, a broken chalkboard and maybe a small podium. With an enrollment of 100 it is the only school and church in the immediate area, from what I could understand. The first time that I visited, more than 50 children plus adults had gathered in the school to greet our team. On a recent return visit much of the town’s population had turned out for a more formal welcoming of LEM to the community, with over 200 children plus adults present for the activity. Please pray for this community, these children and Pastor Wennie. Whether or not this ministry becomes a full member of LEM, the magnitude of the need in this community is evident. Help must come from somewhere if they are to be met.
I believe that God is beginning to birth a vision for the Evangelical Church’s partnership with the Liberia Evangelical Mission. There is much to do and many needs to be met. The key to the success of this vision is obedience on the part of both ECM and LEM. Will you please pray with us that God will provide at least one additional Missionary unit (family, couple or single) to come and help us in the ministry in Liberia? Will you pray that the needed finances for ministering in Sackie Bomota and other villages will be provided? And will you pray for my family as we spend the next months sharing the challenge that God is giving to the Evangelical Church to become more involved in building His church and extending His kingdom in Liberia?
There is a hymn that used to be sung when Missionaries came around. While not sung very often today, the words are still very applicable to the challenge of ministry in Liberia:
O Zion, haste, thy mission high fulfilling,
To tell to all the world that God is Light;
That he who made all nations is not willing
One soul should perish, lost in shades of night.
Give of thy sons to bear the message glorious;
Give of thy wealth to speed them on their way;
Pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious;
And all thou spendest Jesus will repay.
Publish glad tidings,
Tidings of peace;
Tidings of Jesus,
Redemption, and release. (Mary A. Thomson)
fb: Ears and Eyes on Liberia
Gordon, his wife Niki and son Mark arrived back in the States on June 8 and will be spending the rest of the year on deputation ministries in the States. To schedule a time with them please contact them directly at the email address above.