Liberia: Cultivating Hope for the Next Generation
March 4, 2011 - Years of conflict in Liberia destroyed the very structure of society, leaving its people destitute. But now Liberians are yearning for a better future as they reconstruct their country. This month, the churches of Liberia have invited Franklin Graham to bring a message of hope to this West African nation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We … would ask all to be praying for the Festival. I pray this will be the start of a new day in Liberia.—Kendell Kauffeldt
by Kristen Driscoll, Assistant Editor of Decision Magazine
The effort is the fruit of a growing synergy between Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as they partner together for spiritual and physical renewal in devastated lands.
When Liberia’s 14-year civil war ended in 2003, the roots of hope began burrowing into the soil of a country that had little reason left to dream. Citizens elected Ellen Johnson Sirleaf president in 2005 and then turned to the work of rebuilding a nation that barely had a foundation left.
During the 14 years of conflict, families in Liberia were destroyed. Women were abused, men slaughtered and children forced to become soldiers. Some 250,000 Liberians were killed and 1 million displaced in conflicts between native ethnic groups and the ruling class of Americo-Liberians (descendants of former slaves and free blacks from the United States who had settled in Liberia in the 1800s).
The nation’s infrastructure was left in ruins after the combatants looted and stripped buildings right down to the pipes in the ground. The government, schools and civil services were unable to function, and even Monrovia—the capital city—was without running water and electricity.
But the president and citizens of Liberia have begun to rebuild with the help of the international community, nongovernmental organizations and ministries such as Samaritan’s Purse, which began working in the country in 2005. Through various projects, Samaritan’s Purse has helped 80,000 people. The ministry has built some 200 churches, trained 4,000 pastors and shown the Jesus film to 30,000 people. And now the church in Liberia, after surviving the deaths of many pastors and leaders, is regaining strength.
In 2009, a group of Liberian Christians began to sense that it was time to come together for an evangelistic meeting that would declare the Gospel in Liberia—and perhaps throughout Africa. Key church leaders, including Bishop George Harris and Christine Norman, daughter of Liberia’s last democratically elected president, met with Kendell Kauffeldt, Liberia country director for Samaritan’s Purse, who already had been praying about having a Franklin Graham Festival in the nation. Soon, the group invited Franklin Graham to hold an evangelistic event and began preparations for the All Liberia Festival of Life with Franklin Graham, March 25-27, 2011, in Monrovia. The relationships that Samaritan’s Purse has nurtured with pastors and churches throughout the country became the foundation for Festival planning.
“We are excited about the Festival,” Kauffeldt said. “We … would ask all to be praying for the Festival. I pray this will be the start of a new day in Liberia.”
The timing of the Festival is strategic. More than 40 percent of Liberia’s population is under age 15, which means they have scarcely known a time without war. Hauwa Shelwah, secretary of the Festival, is helping to organize a children’s meeting during the event.
“The children born into war are too aggressive at times,” Shelwah said, “but you can see a hunger. They don’t know Scripture, but they know they need hope.” Festival organizers are expecting 30,000 people to attend the Children’s meeting, and they are praying that it will have an impact on this generation, which will one day lead Liberia both politically and spiritually.
The church in Liberia needs a strong new generation. Most trained, mature Christian leaders were killed or displaced during the war, leaving churches decimated and without a biblical foundation. One survey found that while 70 percent of Liberians have some kind of church involvement, only 22 percent understand the concept of salvation. Many have blended Christian belief with traditional religions. Church leaders are pleased that the Festival’s Christian Life and Witness Course is providing much-needed discipleship and encouragement as it teaches church members biblical methods for sharing the Gospel. As of February, 2,300 people across the country had taken the class, and 875 churches were participating in the Festival.
In an effort to reach all of Liberia, the All Liberia Festival is taking the Gospel beyond Monrovia through three satellite Festivals in rural areas March 4-12. Each satellite meeting with Evangelist R.V. Brown will be held near Liberia’s borders in an effort to reach the country’s neighbors with the Gospel. More than 100 churches and pastors in each area have participated in the Christian Life and Witness Course.
As each aspect of the Festival develops, the executive committee is encouraged that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will fall on Liberia this March and soak into the soil of many hearts, bringing renewal to the nation as people turn to Christ in repentance and trust.
This article first appeared in the March 2011 issue of Decision Magazine. Subscribe today »
LIFT UP LIBERIA
- There will be an increase in passion for the lost across Liberia.
- Many will hear about the Festival and attend the meetings.
- Liberians would come to Christ and know the truth.
- Churches would be strengthened and Christians encouraged.
- Spiritual renewal and revival will spread through the nation.
- The truth of Christ will be rooted in every church and false religion will have no place in the Body of Christ.
- Buses and other transportation will be available, especially for the children’s meeting.
WATCH THE FESTIVAL WEBCAST: Join us on March 29 to see and hear Franklin Graham's message, music and other highlights from the All Liberia Life Festival. Stay tuned for details.