Off to Liberia

Years ago, as a local church pastor, I never anticipated my future would bring me face to face with people and nations emerging from civil war, but the past decade has found me in refugee camps, war-torn villages and UN military zones!  Last year, our ministry’s CEO asked me to prayerfully consider taking on a new responsibility – directing and overseeing a new project in the war-ravaged nation of Liberia, in Western Africa.

Established in the 1800’s as a place where freed slaves from America and the Caribbean could be resettled in Africa, this lush tropical nation has more recently been known for an incredibly violent civil war, killing hundreds of thousands of people and sadly, was infamous for using “child soldiers.”  By 2003, the London Economist magazine declared Liberia, “the worst place in the world to live.”

Last November, I went to Liberia at the invitation of several Liberian pastors who have quite literally pleaded with AFMIN to start a  pastoral training program. By the end of our week in Monrovia, the crowded,  impoverished capital of Liberia, we were able to meet with 26 key  denominational leaders.  The pastors present were enthusiastic about AFMIN starting an equipping and training project in their country.

I am departing for Liberia on April 9 and my primary purpose is to establish stronger ties to the pastors and church leaders of the country, and to conduct a two-day leadership seminar.

Before and after the seminar, I’ll be meeting with leaders from the Pentecostal churches, Evangelical congregations, as well as the denominational leaders from ‘mainline’ protestant denominations, as well as the government’s “Secretary General” of churches in Liberia.

In spite of the 20-year civil war, the churches have maintained their ‘labels’ and sadly, their divisions as well.  Over 40% of the Liberians claim to be Christians, yet  few of the pastors are adequately trained and many (if not most) of the churches are very ‘unhealthy.’  Islam is also making its ‘claim’ on this region, reaching out to unsuspecting nominal Christians.

I was raised in a liturgical Lutheran church where I learned about the Lord and saw a genuine and sincere faith in my parents and in my church family.  But, it wasn’t an “emotional” type church structure (if you know Lutherans, you know they are a stoic bunch!).  But I clearly remember a church service when I was  11 or 12 years old. Missionaries from Liberia came to our church, told stories, showed slides, and shared what God was doing.  I remember crying – the only time I ever remember crying inside that church, and recall as if it were yesterday, asking God at the end of the service if there was something I could do for the people of Liberia.

Now, forty years later I’m actually doing something for the people of Liberia!

16 thoughts on “Off to Liberia

  1. What an incredible God we serve – speaks to an 11 year old and then eventually leads him to the “good works which He prepared in advance” when he’s really, really old!!!

  2. Steven, God’s grace go with you bro! But I gotta agree with Carl on that white guy in the middle of the picture. Was he trying to stare you down? I’m kind of picking up a sinister vibe with that smirk on his face. The good thing is that he looks too old to really be able to do any damage. Blessings!

  3. Steven,
    I am thrilled to be going with you to Liberia to train the pastors and be a part of God’s plan for expanding His kingdom in Liberia. If ever there was a place that should be experiencing liberty it is a country founded to give a place for former slaves to be free. Reminds me of the mission Jesus outlined when he read from Isaiah 61 that day in the Nazareth synagogue. I am believing God for great things because He is great. Thanks for the invitation. I count myself privileged to preach the gospel alongside of you my brother.

  4. I too have graphic memories of visiting missionaries coming to my church when I was a child. A giant spider in a glass box stands out in my mind. My response was somewhat different…more like, “I’ll never go to a place like that!” Of course God had different ideas.
    I’m excited for your opportunity, and will be praying.

  5. I remember when you came to the Loveland Vineyard long ago. My daughter was probably 9 (now 23) she wore her prayer bracelet for a very long time. The four of us agreed “we have to pray for this guy”. We are honored to still do so. My all grown up daughter just came in the room and I read the testimony of a child’s prayer being honored so MANY, many, many…years later. What a reaction! Love it. God is so faithful.

    Reading your blog reminds me that this is why we support you and Linda, not just in prayer but also financially. I got goose bumps reading this! Scott Wesley Brown song comes to mind. “please don’t send me to Africa I don’t think I’ve got what it takes”. I am grateful He gives you the strength and abilities to be a part of Africa.

    I pray you will be more blessed then you are a blessing on this trip. For divine appointments. That you will walk in the hands of God but also that you will have His heart and His eyes to see what man cannot see. Wow, just sitting here taking time to pray for you the sense of His presence is so strong. I think I’ll just go pray instead of blogging. bye!

  6. Thank you so much Sharon – for your prayers all these years, your family’s generosity toward our ministry efforts, and your friendship!

  7. I enjoyed hearing your shower story. It’s good to hear of the work you are doing in training pastors to spread the gospel in their own language and to those who are hungry for the Gospel. I think your dad would be jealous. You & he have touched many lives and I thank God for you both. Well done, good and faithful servant.

    • Thanks Bud for your kind comment… I like to think that my dad somehow can get a ‘peek’ from heaven into what I’m doing… he was such a formidable influence in my life and even 28 years later, I still miss him deeply! Thanks for your generous comments!

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