Who am I?

My photo
Monrovia, Liberia
I live in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa with my wife and youngest son. We are recently arrived in Liberia where we are serving as missionaries with Evangelical Church Missions working under the Liberia Evangelical Mission. For most of the last thirty years we have served under ECM in Bolivia, South America. We are the happy parents of four children and the proud grandparents of two grandchildren.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

To Liberia and Back Again

Two days ago I returned to the US after one of the biggest adventures of my life. Our church, The Evangelical Church, has a sister church in Liberia, West Africa. It is an association of formerly independent churches that want to join together to increase the effectiveness of their ministry in Liberia and are asking our church for assistance. Over the last two years at least three different teams have gone from the US to spend time with the Liberian brothers who make up the Liberia Evangelical Mission (LEM). I was privileged to be a part of the last team that went.

The trip began with a really long flight from JFK Airport in New York to Monrovia, Liberia. The good part about the flight was that Delta fed us four times so no one had to go hungry! At one point I was beginning to feel kind of light headed when, right on cue, along came more food. Thanks Delta for taking care of me on the way over!

Going through immigration and customs in Monrovia was a breeze. They seem to genuinely welcome you into their country. Waiting for us were three of the pastors from LEM with transportation to take us to the ELWA guesthouse, our home while in Monrovia.

The ride from the airport to the guesthouse took at least 30 minutes. I could not help but notice how similar the countryside looked to many parts of Bolivia. The tropical growth is very green and pretty. However, arriving at ELWA (ELWA are the call letters for a Christian radio station that operates from the compound where the guesthouse is located. There is also a school, hospital, offices and many homes on the compound.) I saw something that did not look like Bolivia at all, the Atlantic Ocean and a beautiful clean sandy beach. Talk about suffering! The beach and ocean were right outside the door of the guesthouse.

Over the next days we would have meetings with both the leadership and pastors of LEM as well as visit their churches and have opportunity to learn more about Liberia and the ministry of LEM.

Executive Committee of LEM:
Evangelist Prince, Pastor Bedel, Pastor George, Pastor Roosevelt (Superintendent)

Without going into great detail about all that we did and saw, here are some highlights from the trip:

It was good to meet the leadership and to hear from them their vision for reaching out to their fellow countrymen. God has blessed LEM with solid leadership who are committed to work together for the good of the church and and Liberia.

LEM pastors and associated pastors

Visiting churches and sharing with them in worship as well as preaching was definitely a highlight. I was invited to speak at the Resurrection Faith Church, Mt. Zion Church and also in a chapel session at the Monrovia Bible College.

Seeing LEM's commitment to spreading the gospel beyond Monrovia was also a good thing to see. Islam, while representing a small minority in Liberia at present, presents a real challenge in rural areas of the country and outreach is needed in those areas.

The best highlight of all was the children. The churches of LEM have a great burden to minister to children. There are many orphans and abandoned children in Liberia and LEM is committed to do what it can to minister and meet needs. In some cases it may be a program carried out in a church. One pastor has extra kids living with him and feeding them. Another pastor has helped to establish an orphanage.

Some of the children from a rural village that we visited. We were told that many of these children are orphans.

There are many things more that I could include in this post but I will refrain except to say that when we returned to the airport for that long flight back home (this time we were offered food five times) I left Liberia with a new perspective on what God is doing in other parts of the world and I trust I will never be the same because of it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Battle of the Little Bighorn

I am sort of a history buff. I enjoy reading history and seeing historical sights and places. Deputation, though the years, has offered our family the opportunity to visit such places as Washington D.C., Appomattox Courthouse, Gettysburg, Liberty Hall and the Liberty Bell, among other places. One of those other places that I just had the opportunity to re-visit was the Battle of the Little Bighorn Monument in Montana. The experience begins with a video and displays in the Visitors’ Center. Following the center you walk up the hill and see the place where the Last Stand took place and you can read the names of the fallen soldiers on the monument at the top of the hill. Next comes the horse monument where the remains of the soldiers' horses where buried. The soldiers themselves shot their horses and used their bodies for protection against the fire of the Lakota warriors. A visit to the Indian Monument commemorating those who fought to preserve their way of life against the onslaught of the growing white man’s culture and presence ends the tour of Last Stand Hill. All in all it is a very touching and sobering visit. The Bighorn monument, like Gettysburg, draws emphasis that our country was born, grown and matured through conflict. It also raises questions that are difficult to answer: Could the American Indian have been incorporated into the expanding nation without their way of life being destroyed? Would history have been different if our founding fathers had implemented George Washington’s desire to grant full citizenship to the American Indian from the beginning of our country? How could the Washington government wage a war of extermination against the American Indian when it had recently gone through a horrible Civil War to guarantee freedom and rights to all within its boundaries? How can the string of broken treaties be explained away and justified by American History? Why do present day activists use the Native American Heritage in a deceptive manner, ignoring the fact that the different tribes were often at war with each other? How much different would the present day plight of Native Americans be had the US government acted in good faith with them from the beginning?

History is what it is and we can’t change it. We may try to reinterpret it and rewrite it but the fact remains, it is what it is. Our big challenge is to try to learn from it and not to repeat its mistakes.

 Below are some pictures taken at the monument and at the adjoining National Cemetery.

Marker showing the spot on the hill where Gen. Custer fell.
Monument to the soldiers who fell here. The remains of many of them are buried beneath the monument.
Inscription at the bottom of the monument.
The soldiers' horses are honored here.
In the last years markers have also been added to show where warriors fell.
My favorite sign to see anywhere!
Wooden Leg, Cheyenne warrior who fought in the battle.
From the Indian Monument.

Indian Memorial.

Dr. Marquis interviewed many of the warriors who fought in the battle and later wrote several books about the battle.
Grave of White Man Runs Him, one of Custer's Indian scouts. Custer released the scouts before the battle and encouraged them to try to make it to safety.