Recently, Liberia has been in my thoughts and on my heart. I find when the Lord stirs my heart to learn about a country, I suddenly seem to find it everywhere. Yesterday Liberia celebrated 10 years since the end of the horrendous civil war that decimated the country and destroyed most of its infrastructure and so many lives. To honor that celebration, I am writing this post chronicling some of the ways I have been learning about the country.
As this sign indicates, Liberians are hopeful that the end of ethnic and class strife will bring peace. We know, however, that without the transforming power of the Gospel, there is no peace. I encourage you to explore these resources and to pray for Liberia and for those God is sending there.
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Eph 2:14–18
Resources on Liberia
First I read The House on Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper, which describes the her life growing up in Liberia as a member of the privileged “Congo” class of descendants from slaves who returned to Africa from America. She helped me understand the tragedy of a culture that perpetuated the sins that were perpetuated on them…Africans treating indigenous Africans like the Southern slave holders treated them.
Then I saw the movie Pray the Devil Pack to Hell at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, which documented how a determined women’s movement in Liberia helped bring an end to the bloody civil war. In September 2011, I was privileged to hear Leyman Gbowee, one of the activists featured in the film, at UCSB, just a few weeks before she became a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
A few months ago, Amazon had a special on the kindle version of the autobiography of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the president of Liberia: This Child will be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President. How could I go wrong for $1.99? I ended up getting the Audible version for a few more dollars and listened to the book over a period of about four weeks.
During the same time, I learned that dear friends in Ventura would be moving to Liberia in the fall. Dr. John Fankhauser will be a part of a team starting the first family medicine training program in Liberia, a further sign of rebirth and hope for this war ravaged land. The entire family will be serving in various capacities. You can read about their ministry on their blog Lift up Liberia.
Beth Fankhauser told me about meeting Melodie, who grew up in Liberia and will be moving to Kenya with her family. Melodie blogs at Africa’s Melodie. Melodie’s mom Nancy Shepherd has written a book about the journey the Lord took her through during years of ministry first in Liberia and then during the civil war to Liberian refugees in the Ivory Coast. Confessions of a Transformed Heart is a great resource for anyone thinking of the missions field because it addresses in a personal way the need to relinquish our own ideas of ministry and learn to submit to the way of the Cross.
The latest Liberia discovery is a new project to create a children’s book about a child caught up in the civil war: The True Story of Chu-Chu: A Boy from Monrovia Liberia. It is written by Bola Jones and will be illustrated by my friend, the very talented Neal Parrow, who has illustrated several other children’s books such as Mika: An Orphan’s Story of Faith, Hope, and Love. This book on Chu-Chu is being financed through Kickstarter and you can read about it here. I encourage you to support this effort.