The Gospel of the Kingdom Spreads to Liberia

By Seventy Ron Smith -- (Click Here To Hear More about the Children)

On May 31, 2005, Neil Simmons, Jeanette Thomas, Pat Bolingbroke, Di Smith, and I had the privilege of going to the country of Liberia to help spread the gospel of the Kingdom of God.  While in Liberia, we were kept busy with two Vacation Bible Schools, a teacher’s workshop for beginning readers,  a men’s retreat, a women’s retreat, and preaching and teaching in Gardour’s Town, Greenville, and Buchanan.

We participated in the first Communion service of the Church of Jesus Christ – Buchanan Restoration Branch, the first branch business meeting, an ordination service, a baptismal service in which four were baptized, a confirmation service in which five received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and a blessing service in which 61 children were blessed.  On June 17, we returned exhausted but marveling at the powerful hand of the Lord in that land.

liberia map
The map of Africa has a big bulge on the western coast. Right out there on the bulge, on the Southwest side, kind of slanted, is the country of Liberia. It is about three quarters of the size of Iowa, and it has been devastated by fourteen years of civil war. There is no infrastructure there. There is no electricity. There is no water. There is no sewer. There is very little of anything. In the cities you have people. In Buchanan where we were most of the time, there are about twenty thousand people who are living from day to day, getting enough to eat and seeing what they can sell.  The war took everything. When you walk through the streets, it's like you are in those science fiction movies where they have the big city where nobody is home, except there are lots of people around. There are just shells of buildings. Everything has been dismantled. We visited the ports at Buchanan and Greenville. They have beautiful beaches - the kind you think of when you think of a tropical paradise. But at the ports, all you can see are the remains of huge cranes. Everything that can be chopped up and carted away has been sold for scrap.

Liberia is a rich country. They have some of the richest iron ore mines in the world, but the rails of the railroads that connect the iron ore mines to the port are being pulled up one by one and sold for scrap. There is no manufacturing. The only big business is the rubber plantation, and they have gone through complete devastation and reconstruction since the war. They pay $1.75 a day plus they build housing for their workers and give them a bag of rice every month. Those are the good jobs.  There are no gas pumps. Well, there are gas pumps. They just don't work. There are gas stations that have gallon jars of gas, which they sell for four U.S. dollars a gallon. Vehicles are very scarce. Mainly you just see the U.N. vehicles and the support people for the U.N. Mission that are there.

Four young men were pushed together in the refugee camp in the Ivory Coast, and they started preaching the gospel as they understood it. These four young men left the refugee camp and came back to Liberia - again with nothing. When they came back, two of them applied for positions in the new police academy that was being set up by the U.N. to train a civilian police force.   Brother Randy Vick was the U.N. Commander of the civilian military in the southern half of Liberia. He had felt directed to go to Liberia, and he asked the Lord if there was anything that he could do while he was there.  When Randy was interviewing Mark Thompson for the police academy, he said they hadn't talked for twenty minutes until he found they were talking about the gospel. Randy shared with Mark the "Go Ye and Teach" slides. Mark got on fire and shared with Ben Cleon the same things.  These two young men were the first two that were actually accepted to the police academy; but they gave up that opportunity for a paying job in order to preach the gospel as they now understood it. They went to one of the other friends, Daniel Biah, who is now the Pastor in Buchanan, and got him to listen to Randy. Daniel has been to seminary, so when he preaches he can talk about the Greek and Hebrew words, the interpretations of them and those kinds of things.  He's a very sharp young man. These three were baptized in January.

Joshua Khakie was the fourth. He heard that his friends had joined a church that was associated with the Book of Mormon. Joshua came from a Baptist family. His father was a Baptist Deacon and had started a church, so he was convinced that his friends had come into error and wrong doing. He came over to Buchanan from Monrovia to convert them back to the ways of the Lord; and he was also convinced by the power of the Holy Spirit. Joshua was one of those baptized at the service in which we were privileged to be a part.  He was called and ordained to be elder before we left.  The morning after his ordination, he reported that he had lined up two people for studying the gospel the previous day!

These four young men put their vision and their mission statement on a big sheet and had it lettered. They sent the sheet back because some of the words were misspelled, but we got to see it before we left. They put down what their mission is, and it is no less than changing Liberia within five years! They have 2010 written right there!  They believe that the gospel is what is going to save Liberia and make the change of heart. Their vision is to reach all the indigenous population by going into the country sides and establishing churches. They even have bigger plans. They are planning on saving Ivory Coast and Ghana, too, because they are the neighboring places where they have many contacts. They want to change the hearts and minds of people and bring them to the gospel. Mark said to us, "You probably don't know what it is like to live by the grace of God! I know what it's like! I have a wife and I have a child. We have no job, but we have clothes on our back and we have food to eat. When we have clothes on our back and when we have food to eat, it's because of the grace of God!" That was pretty amazing! We have so much and sometimes just get so busy that we can't quite see our way to share the gospel. For these young men, it is their goal always with them to share the gospel and to save their country.

We also experienced the power of protection of the Lord.  There was a riot one day, and the younger brother of our choir director in Buchanan was shot in the head by the Bangladesh soldiers who are U.N. peace keepers. We prayed for him at prayer service, and he lived. Before we left Liberia, we got word that he was talking, and that was a really good sign that he was going to survive.  On the day of the riot, Randy came to the Vacation Bible School and said, "You have five minutes to finish whatever you are doing and get into the car. I'm taking you back to the hotel." He took us by the back roads around the area in which the riot had occurred, but we were never feeling like we were in danger. We had had a blessing before we left, and the Lord had assured us that we would be safe. So we didn't, or I didn't, experience any real concern over the situation. The Lord protected us, and I am confident He will bring good out of even the prayers for the young man shot. When his brother prayed for him, he prayed that he would live, but also he said, "What I really want is that he will listen to the Lord now." So, hopefully, that is going to happen.

I believe the Lord has set his hand to bring the gospel of the Kingdom to this part of Africa.  This is truly a great and marvelous work.

Ron Smith
July 3, 2005

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