Published: March 22nd 2008March 22nd 2008
From January 15-27, 2008; I visited Liberia with my friends and colleagues The Rev. Twila Schock and The Rev. Rodger Prois of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I am grateful for their leadership and commitment to God’s mission in the world. I am equally thankful for the opportunity that I had to meet, share and walk with the Lutheran Church in Liberia. Through the LCL ministries of health, education, HIV/AIDS, trauma healing, urban ministries, peace and reconciliation, and word and sacrament ministries, I had a glimpse of the joy and challenges of the church leadership in ministry.
Liberia, West African country located in the golf of Guinea, struggles to recover from the civil war which lasted for more than a decade. Liberia has an area of 111,370 sq km and a population estimated at 3 million inhabitants. With less that 160 medical doctors (122 serving) for the entire health system, Liberia strives to develop capacities that go beyond the use of aid or technical assistance. “Liberia aspires, from the word of the honorable minister of health and social welfare, Dr. Walter Gwenigale, to empower communities and individuals to respond to immediate needs as well as structural community challenges”. Recovering
from this long and vicious civil war remains the challenge of not only Liberian but of Liberian living aboard and their friends scattered around the world.
Following the visit to Bong and Lofa counties as well as the numerous ministries of the Lutheran Church in Liberia and its ecumenical partners, I was overwhelmed by the immediate needs of the people and the country. From my paralysis, I had an inkling of the resiliency and commitment of the Liberian people to rebuild their lives and their own communities. Instead of feeling helpless, I am energized by what I've seen in Liberia even though the socio-economic situation in the country is still chaotic at best and very alarming when you read the statistics on health care, poverty, peace, economic structures and rebuilding process. See UN Secretary General progress report … at:
Even though there is no quick fix or short term miracle for Liberia, I remain hopeful and very optimistic for a slow but strong economic recovery in the long-term. From our conversation with the vice-president of Liberia as well as other government official and the UNMIL chief of Mission, it is possible for Liberian to see the renewal
of the political and social spectra of the country but a lot of work and rebuilding need to be done.
The Lutheran Church in Liberia needs in this recovery process its partners today more than ever because the church, the same way as for the country of Liberia, wants to rebuild and mobilize resources for capacity development.
LCL is a companion church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Global Mission Unit. ELCA/GM accompanies the LCL health ministries including Curran Hospital, Phebe hospital, HIV/AIDS program; the theological training, the education program, the Lutheran Training institute which provides vocational training for reinsertion of former combatants. At the request of LCL, ELCA/GM sent three missionary units which accompany these programs with technical assistance.
There are more photos below