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.
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