The remarkable film, “Amazing Grace” follows English abolitionist William Wilberforce as he determines his Christian faith no longer allows him to be silent about slavery. His courage and tenacity led to that most wicked of human institutions being abolished in England three decades before our country would follow suit.
Yesterday, Pastor Peter, our Liberian host, drove us to a rural area outside of the capital city. Along the dirt road I saw children working – carrying recently made bricks on their heads and one young boy, probably 11 years old, struggled with a broken down wheelbarrow full of what appeared to be cement.
Across the dusty road were school children in their familiar African school uniforms walking home. “Why are these children working instead of going to school?” I asked Peter.
He replied with a sadness in his voice, “Their parents cannot afford the school fees which are between $50 – $75 per year, so their children will never be educated, but only work.”
Pastor Peter then told us that probably 80% of the children in this ‘district’ do not attend school. That is why he is building a school which will not require school fees, but will offer scholarships. He is also trying to build a medical clinic for women and children. It’s only a foundation on the hard African soil at the moment, but the land is paid for and his congregation is full of faith toward this vision! These are the kinds of pastors and leaders we are privileged to come alongside and train – truly “Kingdom people!”
But as we drove past these children working hard labor, I saw another little boy, his shirt pulled up over his head to give some relief in the hot tropical sun and tears formed in my eyes. “This is so wrong!” I muttered rather loudly. Peter heard me from the front seat of the car and replied, “Yes it is! Which is why we are so thankful that you have come to Liberia to help us!”