Restoring Hope in Liberia
November 1, 2003 - From its founding in the 1820s as a refuge for freed American slaves, Liberia—the country whose very name means "Land of the Free"—has represented hope.
by Tom Layton
But in recent years, brutal fighting, tribal turmoil, a ruined economy and corrupt politicians have devastated Liberia. Civil war in the 1990s killed about 150,000 people and uprooted half of the survivors: 1 million refugees left the country, and hundreds of thousands fled to the capital city of Monrovia, where many have been living in abandoned buildings or filthy and overcrowded camps.
Since President Charles Taylor was driven into exile in August, international troops have begun to restore order in Liberia. Meanwhile, Christians are working to restore hope.
Samaritan's Purse is helping to meet the needs of churches, families and soldiers—groups that could become examples for national reform.
Working through the Evangelical Church Union of Liberia (ECUL), Samaritan's Purse is providing churches with family survival kits containing essential items such as pots, utensils, a lantern, soap, a towel and a Bible. "This is an answer to prayer," said Robert Cooper, the national vice chairman of the ECUL. "Even though we didn't know [Samaritan's Purse] before, God has brought us together."
Samaritan's Purse is also helping to rehabilitate hundreds of girls and young women who were traumatized—and scorned—after being enslaved by rebel troops and forced to fight or participate in unspeakable atrocities. Missionaries supported by Samaritan's Purse are setting up Christian group homes to show the young women love and to assure them that Jesus Christ died for them, that God will forgive them and that the Holy Spirit can transform them—a message that can truly free all Liberians.
"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:36, NKJV).