The day has finally come, though it’s hard to believe. You know the feeling. There’s something you are planning for – and you work and you plan until that day finally arrives. Then when the day comes it seems surreal. Like having a baby.
Come to think of it, that’s exactly what it feels like now. Mickey and I are giving birth to the next phase of our ministry. Today, as I write this, he is in Liberia.
Ever since we met Pastor Stephen Tour, we have had Liberia on our hearts. The country has a connection with the US for many reasons. A major one is a monumental occurrence which happened during the mid 19th century. Just before the Civil War, a Christian group – the American Colonization Society helped ex-slaves from the United States move to Africa and establish the Colony of Liberia.
The new immigrants had only known the American culture, so they began to emulate it. They designed a flag very similar to the US flag. The houses they built were reminiscent of the Greek Revival homes they had left. At first, the clothes they wore were copies of those they had known in their old land.
There were occasional clashes with some of the new neighbors, but the people were able to establish a certain order, and their lives began to flourish. The new Liberians were experiencing some good times.
However, as is always the case when differing cultures collide, resentments began to build in some of the neighboring tribes and at the end of the 20th century fierce fighting broke out.
It’s hard to understand all of the motivations – or even what people were trying to achieve with their fighting, but there were two decades of such intense battles that 500,000 people were killed. Most of the country’s infrastructure was annihilated. Finally in 2004 the UN sent peace keepers into the country and the president was arrested and sentenced for war crimes. (He is now serving a 50 year sentence in a British jail).
So back to the present…
Many of the people who had fled Liberia during the onslaught are now returning to their homeland in order to rebuild. Two of my heroes in this mission are Pastor Stephen Tour and his wife, Pastor Annette. Though they both had escaped miraculously with guns pointed at them (that’s another story for another day), they felt the call of God to return to their land. Ten years ago they moved back and began the hard, complicated task of building a church and helping others to rebuild their lives.
Remember I said that the infrastructure had been destroyed during the wars? Well I really meant that. When the Tours returned there was no central water system and no electricity. No phone service and, of course, no internet. Oh, and streets? Forget it!
Bravely this couple gathered some others to begin the work – and the progress has been incredible. Ten years later, they have a church building with several stories. They have also started two rural churches, and they’re bringing changes wherever they go.
Such noble people.
Mickey will be teaching the Word in some of the church meetings. He’s also going to assist in opening a Bible School for local pastors. Pastor Tour’s long range vision is to open a conference center on the coast – where he has six acres. So much is possible when the vision of God is involved.
I’ll be posting often as I hear the developments. Thanks for your prayers.