Life for Liberia – May 2016

There continues to be very encouraging news following our mission to Liberia in January. Each of the churches has been inspired and encouraged in their discipleship and outreach. We have been especially delighted to hear of a number of epileptic people who received healing and continue to be completely free of this awful condition.

It is hard for us to appreciate how significant it is for divine healing to be introduced to a community who have no medical care provision. We can take even the smallest of health concerns to our GP and receive immediate assurance or treatment, but for the communities we work with in Liberia a rash or a sore throat or headache could be the precursor to serious illness for which there is no available remedy. Demonstrating that Jesus is alive today and with them to heal is transformative. It is easy to see why Jesus made healing and deliverance a central part of His proclamation of the Kingdom of God - "whatever city you enter... heal the sick there and say to them, ‘the kingdom of God is near.’"

The news from the towns where cultic practices had been taking place is also very encouraging. The chiefs and leaders have continued to look to the church we established two years ago for help in following Jesus and living in the light of the Gospel. Jesus said, you cannot serve two masters, and an illustration from the civil war has really helped them to understand this. During the civil war many people changed sides, but when they did it would be impossible to return again – they would be killed as traitors. This has helped them to understand what it means to turn from the old kingdom of the traditional cultic practices to the Kingdom of God. It is not just a matter of adding a few new beliefs and changing a few practices, it is about the whole of life. There is a change of ruler, a change of goals, a change of values.

The leadership training I did in January has led to pleas for further training, so the leaders from Monrovia have continued to gather both community and church leaders from a number of towns and villages to provide ongoing training.
One of the many things that touched me deeply during our trip in January was visiting a remote village where we prayed with many people and shared the Good News of Jesus with them. They pleaded with Othello, the evangelist, to visit them regularly to help them grow as Christians. But it took all day to walk there and back, so regular visits were beyond his capacity. There were already so many other nearer villages that also needed visiting. So as a parting gift, we left funds to provide Othello with a motorbike. This has transformed his ability to reach out to the remoter villages.

One of the pastors, Jonathan, has been invited to a conference in the UK at the end of May. Assuming he gets a visa, the plan is for him to stay a few days with us in Chinley. This will be a great opportunity to spend some unpressurised time with him and also meet our church. So please make a date in your diary for 7.30 pm Friday 3rd June at St Mary’s, where we will show some slides from our trip and hear from Jonathan. 

Whilst Jonathan was in Sierra Leone for his visa interview, we received the shocking news that one of the communities we have been working in was bulldozed by the government, rendering hundreds of people homeless. The pastor’s home along with those of many of the church members were destroyed, along with their possessions and livelihoods. There has been a long running dispute between the government university and the local residents over land ownership. The residents have purchased land and received registration documents, but the government says the documents are not valid and finally gave two weeks notice to leave. No one had anywhere to go and could not believe they would actually carry out their threat. But the army turned up and bulldozed a large area, returning on successive days to continue the destruction.
The pastor and several other families, including Ebola orphans church members are caring for, are sheltering in the church and school, which for the moment have been left standing. 

We are keeping in touch and offering prayer and financial support at this very difficult time. Despite this terrible blow as these people are struggling with the aftermath of the Ebola crisis, the pastor and other leaders I have spoken to have been amazingly strong in their faith, going around the community trying to give hope and practical help to others.

Please pray for our friends in Liberia at this time, and if anyone would like to make a financial gift to help them find new homes, that would be a great blessing.