So it’s my last night in Liberia, and an opportunity to reflect on the last few days here.. On Sunday morning I preached at LCMI church where Pastors Steve and Emmanuel are based. Interestingly it was the monthly Communion at the end of the service, but less than a third of those attending came forward to receive the bread and the wine. The reason being that the rest were either not baptised, not members, or not feeling worthy to partake. Culturally very different-but the norm here in Liberia apparently.
On Sunday afternoon and then again on Monday morning, Emmanuel and I had meetings about Ignite in Liberia and Ignite in Africa, we filmed a video greeting for the Ignite team in the UK, an Ignite introduction video for other areas of Africa, and we adapted the UK Ignite Challenge material for use in Liberia as weekly programme.
The return to the guesthouse on Sunday evening was pretty eventful. Steve’s nephew Shadrach, a big lad of 19, lives with him, and he had been ill in the local clinic. He took a turn for the worse, we collected him and half way to the hospital the decision was made to detour to a pastor specialising in deliverance ministry. Shadrach hadn’t spoken for a day or so, and the feeling was that this had spiritual origins in a terrible dream he had over a week ago.. The deliverance pastor was a French speaker, and so Steve, Emmanuel and I joined in praying as he began to minister to Shadrach. An hour or so later, Shadrach was talking, felt better, but at the moment is still in the clinic although recovering well.
Apparently tonight, the deliverance pastor is going to spend the night with Steve ans his family as Shadrach returns to them.
Emmanuel was travelling back to ABC (Africa Bible College) University in the north of Liberia on Monday afternoon, whilst I went to Harbel about an hour the other side of Robertsville airport, to lead another Ignite training session. Harbel is a town completely inside an area owned by the Firestone Rubber Company. To get in there you drive through gates as if you are entering a factory, and then you see row upon row of tress with little cups attached collecting the sap from them. The training was hosted by Pastor J. Nehemiah Johnson, whom Gary and I had met on our last trip, and he fed Stephen, Wintee, our driver and I at his house before the training. The training course was notable for at least 3 nursing mothers breastfeeding their babies throughout the proceedings!
Driving in the beaten up old Ignite Nissan estate has been an experience. It has over 318,000 miles on the clock, and I had to help pay for a radiator replacement on Sunday because it was overheating and leaking last week. On Saturday morning Emmanuel and I were driving and it suddenly stopped. He jumped out of the car, waved a passing guy on a motorbike down and hopped on the back to find a mechanic, leaving me at the roadside with the car!
Today has been a free day basically. I purchased a few gifts to take home with me from Sarah, the housekeeper at the ABC guesthouse here. No sooner had I done so than she came knocking at my door again and said that Emmanuel had sent a local craftsman with some wood carvings for me to buy! Having only a few US dollars remaining, I offered to trade with him, and eventually swapped 2 carved elephants for my mosquito net! I gave Sarah some things for her child, and also shared my lunch with here- boil in a bag chicken casserole and tinned vegetables.
I have swum in the sea, written a sermon for Sunday back at City Temple, watched a TV episode on my laptop, snoozed, chatted with a elderly missionary lady from the USA, and then went to dinner with Stephen and Florence at their house. Jollof rice, cucumber, pineapple, and watermelon…and a can of coke. I took with me some of my clean tee-shirts, having deliberately brought with me enough to leave most of them for Steve and Emmanuel to use or give to friends. What with the packet food, Ignite tee-shirts, Bibles, training handouts, Seven Myths of Youth ministry books, I am going back with considerably less in my baggage than I came with.
Internet connection is painfully slow here so will post some pictures on my return to the UK.