The Fourth Annual Conference Session of the Liberia Evangelical Mission was held on August 12-16 at the Resurrection Faith Ministries Church. While not an overly large gathering, it was a good series of meetings. This year’s theme was Equipping For Kingdom Harvest. Each session was based on the theme with several speakers each giving their own contributions to the subject. I had the privilege of bringing the opening message as well as teaching one of the classes. Lots of lively music and prayer were a part of each session as well.
LEM is a small group at this point, so the need for business time is minimal. In fact, the business of the conference was confined to one meeting that only lasted about an hour and a half. I am tempted to say that my own Annual Conference could learn something from the Liberian brothers but I guess I had better let that subject pass. The two items that took up most of the business tie were the question of how new congregations can affiliate with LEM and the issue of marriage. Like in the United States these days, marriage is a bit of a hot button topic. However, the church in Liberia is not faced with the question of how to respond to homosexual unions (they are not permitted in Liberia) but what kind of marriage to accept, especially when considering the case of pastors/leaders who in a traditional and not civil marriage. When and how does marriage take place? I will have the opportunity to help address this and other issues as I have been placed on the committee to present a proposed Book of Discipline for LEM. It will be, to say the least, an interesting assignment and one that will need much divine wisdom.
The conference ended with a stirring message from Superintendent Roosevelt Kla-fleh challenging people to commitment themselves for service.
|Niki and Mark waiting for the closing service to begin|
Apart from the spiritual aspect of the conference, the food was also very good (who can argue with fish, crab legs and pork every lunch)
|Fish, crab legs, pork, greens and rice|
|Fish, crab legs, pork, palm butter and rice|
|Fish, french fries and onions|
and I had a lot of fun with kids. Some of them are still afraid of the white man. It is fun quite entertaining to see how close I can get before they either start crying or run away. By the end of the conference I had at least coaxed a tentative smile and a long distance wave from the most scared of the bunch.
|This young man was my friend from the beginning|
|Not afraid of the white man, she was on my lap the first day|
Now the task begins for the churches to put into practice those things that they heard and were taught. My prayer is that next year at Annual Conference there will be evidence of progress and a deepening relationship with God and with each other. May it be so!