The Lord made a way for me to meet an amazing man of God doing extraordinary things in the nation of Liberia in a year when Covid-19 made my trip to West Africa not possible.
I have met Pastor Joseph through regular Pastor’s zoom catch ups. He has been a Pastor for 22 years and a pastor of a Promise Faith Centre Churches International in Liberia for 15 years.
I have to admit my understanding of life in Liberia was through the lens of growing up hearing about the atrocities of civil war in Liberia during the '90’s. I had to do some research and get a full understanding of life in Liberia.
Pastor Joseph with his wife & children
While Primary and secondary education is free and compulsory from the ages of 6-16, enforcement of attendance is lax. On average, children attain 10 years of education (11 for boys and 8 for girls). Education in Liberia is hindered by inadequate schools and supplies, as well as a lack of qualified teachers and corruption.
Without urgent action, the situation will likely get worse as the region faces a rising demand for education due to a still-growing school-age population.
Education in Liberia is a priority. This generation of children are being prepared to become adult citizens of tomorrow. The growth is parallel to the future of their country.
Building works at the school compound
As I heard my father, Bishop Barry, honour and endorse Pastor Joseph and the work he is doing, I was moved to hear of Pastor Joseph’s faithfulness to the ministry and that he has not received any resources nor a visit from the PFCCI Australian office – what a faithful servant.
I saw in Pastor Joseph the heart of God for his people. I heard God’s power and justice being stirred. I heard through the work of the ministry God caring for his people - God is the “father to the fatherless, defender of widows”. God cares for those who are socially helpless.
It reminded me that God’s care for people in need comes, not only through divine intentions and divine laws, but also through the people who live according to God’s ways. His care for the vulnerable takes on human form in Pastor Joseph, his family and the church.
Pastor Joseph and his team of teachers are working to ensure that children in their community receive a good quality education and learn the skills they will need to thrive. They are breaking down the barriers to education by helping the poor and vulnerable – including those who have witnessed conflict and disaster – through civil war as well as through the Ebola outbreak – by giving access to early childhood and primary school services.
This work is leading the way in improving literacy and numeracy skills, helping teachers to teach and children to learn. Through this work, the team is supporting out-of-school young people access training in a skill or occupation, so that they can get a job which provides them with enough money to survive. This in turn brings change to not only their community but change to the nation of Liberia.
This is what Pastor Joseph said about the Liberia Promise Faith Centre School System -
“We started the school in September 2012. The aim of the school is to help orphans and single parent students in the Church to prepare for a better future. In 2012, we started with 35 students as an elementary school. To help the community, we introduced tuition free to the community in 2015-2017 to help parents who could not afford to pay their children school fees. In those years, we had 250-315 the second year. In 2018, we introduced tuition and the number of students dropped to 200. As of now, we have 175 students. Of the 175, 50 are orphans are on scholarship. The school is now a full fleshed Junior high school and hopefully, we will be going to senior high next academic school year. Hopefully, we are expecting about 200 - 250 students to attend next academic school year. We will have about 15 teachers next academic school year but now we have 11 teachers.
The school is important for the community for the community for the following reasons:
Video of the compound under further construction, adding further classrooms to meet demand
How can you help?
Currently Pastor Joseph is requiring funds to finish building the school and to replace the roof on one of the school buildings. If you would like to know more about the work of Pastor Joseph in Liberia, please reach out to PFCCI Australia - you really can help change a community and a nation directly.
Connect with Pastor Joseph on Linked-In
As I was reflecting this week on my journey as a missionary, when Dad, who many of you know as Bishop Barry, ask if I would share how I stepped into the life of being a missionary.
It was a difficult reflection - as my mission work is not the way most people perceive a missionary’s life to look like. I have not picked up my life in relocated overseas. I actually only “go” on mission for a couple of weeks every couple of years. We are all called to the work of the missionary.
Let me introduce you to a lovely couple, Pastor John and Priscilla Andoh. I have had the absolute pleasure of staying with them in Accra, Ghana on many occasions over a 12-year period. I first meet Pastor John in 2008 when I visited Ghana with Dad.
Their hearts are so big and generous that it can’t be described in words. They are a couple with a vision for caring for those who have been widowed or orphaned.
The Ghanaians are so friendly with servant hearts, yet it is a place in desperate poverty where the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic have left many orphaned and widowed.
Freedom House is the vision of Pastor John and Priscilla to provide more than just care of women and children. The Freedom House community is a thriving community where orphans live, and it also a Widows and single mother’s training centre.
At present there are 40 orphans and 40 widows and 12 single mothers who are fed, clothed and educated.
Widows are taught bead work, baking bread, production of soap and Dettol. Business skills are taught to empower women. These micro- businesses give these women hope – hope to provide and to break the poverty cycle for their families and community.
Freedom House is a working farm where fresh crops of cassava, oranges, coconuts, and plantain are harvested to provide food for the widows and orphans. Pigs are also bread. Produce is also sold to provide funds to pay for resources and to cover expenses.
This week the Holy Spirit kept taking me to the scripture found in Matthew 25:31-46.
Now, why this reminder of something we know so well and hear so often? Because when we talk about justice and when we read this parable of the sheep and goats, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of asking ourselves, “Am I doing enough? Am I doing the right things?”
It’s so easy to look at our lives and start checking off the boxes:
“Yup, I helped a hungry person. Yup, I donated clothes to Thrifty’s or the Salvation Army. Yup, I was kind to a stranger and paid for their coffee. Yup, I’ve visited people in the hospital and brought a meal to my neighbour after she came home from the hospital. Hmm, the prison one...haven’t done much there, but hopefully all the other stuff will make up for it. But is it enough?”
Or maybe we look at the checklist and check only a few boxes:
“Yup, I gave to the Food Bank. Nope, didn’t do that one or the next one. Could have done more on the other one. Uhoh. I’m in trouble.”
This parable on faith and justice has not been intended to guilt us into doing more. It challenges us to reflect on the great commandment and the great commission.
We don’t obey any of these commands to earn favour with God. That’s ours, by God’s grace. We don’t love God or our neighbour or share the gospel so that we can stand before the throne on Judgment Day and say, “See what I did!”
We love because he first loved us. We love because that’s the expression of new life, of being born again. Love is living our God’s grace.
The love that John and Priscilla show is not some big miracle or publicly impressive example of profound love.
Jesus talks about the little things, little ministries in life. Food and drink, clothing and hospitality are minimum human needs. Visiting hurting people in their confinement, when they are not in productive circulation or attractive or strategic, is a ministry recognized as a commitment to Christ.
Providing food and shelter, making visits are all basic and mundane and un-flashy services. These ministries are within the reach of every one of us. We can do this. All of these ministries are given the highest honours by Jesus.
There are as many human needs as there are human beings. Every person John and Priscilla care for is dying for a drop of love. Basic help for each person’s need is what Jesus celebrates here.
“And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch."
‘Christianity’ is derived from the word ‘Christian’ which was the name first given to those who were believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the name ‘Christian’ was used first of all at Antioch as is mentioned in the above scripture.
Christians are therefore disciples of Jesus Christ, who assemble together as believers and an assembly of Christians are collectively called ‘The Church’.
The Lord Jesus is the supreme head of His Church and He said that He will build His Church in Matthew 16:18 –
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.".
There is one church but many local assemblies of God’s people, called churches (Acts 15:41). Much could be said about this and will be in further teachings.
Believers! Never speak against the Church! Christianity is much more than a religion. There are many ‘religions’ of the world, thus they are called the 'religions of the world’ but Christianity is separate.
Jesus Christ did not come to start or introduce another religion. Never. He came to show us the way back to God, the Father, so we could have fellowship with Him, meaning communion or oneness with God, a divine connection – God in us.
In the religions of the world, man is attempting to ‘work out’ a way to get to God, by working to please their God or serve their God, some even thinking they are pleasing God by killing believers in Jesus Christ! That is exactly what the Lord Jesus said people would do, John 16:2
“They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.”
Christianity is quite different. Christianity is God coming to us and loving us, which is why He sent Jesus Christ His son, in John 3:16 –
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Christianity is God dying for us because He loves us. He is not killing us because He hates us – the god of this world, the devil, satan, is the one who hates us.
The Lord Jesus put it this way in John 10:10
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
~ Bishop Barry Cunnington
Eight decades ago in my Sunday School days we used to sings a little song that really helped me grow up to love and enjoy all races of people.
Now after 60 years of ministry in at least 27 nations and that includes the Pitjantjatjara tribes of Central Australia and the tribes of Western Australia, I wake up of a morning and answer the protest news of the day singing that little song I learnt so long ago.
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world,
red and yellow black and white,
all are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little little children of the world.
It sure helped me even when I didn’t understand the pain and struggle of so many of my precious brothers & sisters which had been the case during their whole life’s existence.
I became emotionally aware of their pain as a young Christian minister in 1969 listening to the children of Roebourne W A sing -
“Across the Bridge there’s no more sorrow, across the Bridge there’s no more pain, the Sun will shine across the river and I’ll never be unhappy again.”
Only the Great LOVE of GOD freely given to us all by JESUS CHRIST on the Cross OF CALVARY so long ago where HE bore all humankind’s BIGOTRY, HATE and UNFORGIVENESS can forever deliver a divided hurting world’s TRUE HEALING!
In His Grip,
Bishop Harry Westcott
The upcoming COVID-19 vaccine and the potentially 'mandatory' nature of it has led many people to ask if it could be the mark of the beast. With that in mind, we thought a reminder of what the Bible says about the mark of the beast would be in order.
The main passage in the Bible that mentions the “mark of the beast” is Revelation 13:15-18. Other references can be found in Revelation 14:9, 11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, and 20:4. This mark acts as a seal for the followers of Antichrist and the false prophet (the spokesperson for the Antichrist). The false prophet (the second beast) is the one who causes people to take this mark. The mark is literally placed in the hand or forehead and is not simply a card someone carries.
The recent breakthroughs in medical implant chip and RFID technologies have increased interest in the mark of the beast spoken of in Revelation chapter 13. It is possible that the technology we are seeing today represents the beginning stages of what may eventually be used as the mark of the beast. It is important to realize that a medical implant chip is not the mark of the beast.
The mark of the beast will be something given only to those who worship the Antichrist. Having a medical or financial microchip inserted into your right hand or forehead is not the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast will be an end-times identification required by the Antichrist in order to buy or sell, and it will be given only to those who worship the Antichrist.
Many good expositors of Revelation differ widely as to the exact nature of the mark of the beast. Besides the implanted chip view, other speculations include an ID card, a microchip, a barcode that is tattooed into the skin, or simply a mark that identifies someone as being faithful to the Antichrist’s kingdom. This last view requires the least speculation, since it does not add any more information to what the Bible gives us. In other words, any of these things are possible, but at the same time they are all speculations. We should not spend a lot of time speculating on the precise details.
The meaning of 666 is a mystery as well. In Revelation 13:18 tells us,
“This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.”
Somehow, the number 666 will identify the Antichrist. For centuries Bible interpreters have been trying to identify certain individuals with 666. Nothing is conclusive. That is why Revelation 13:18 says the number requires wisdom. When the Antichrist is revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), it will be clear who he is and how the number 666 identifies him.
Sending a huge shout-out to all the Mother's of the PFCCI!
Today, Sunday 10 May, we wake to a day of celebrating our Mother's.
As I was reflecting on what the bible says about Mum's and what joy women bring to God himself, I thought I would share with you. Where is the Gospel in Proverbs 31? That is a powerful question that has an answer that unfolds in this way: God has shown His love to the world by giving us special women in our lives.
Proverbs 31 teaches us that God blesses the world through women: through the gift of that special woman He blesses husbands. Through the gift of that woman He blesses households (and we could even say, entire economies or markets).
Through the gift of woman He blesses the poor and the needy. This is such a blessing. Without women in the Church where would our mercy ministries be? God has used women in the Church to feed the hungry, clothe the naked. Thank God for our women and our Mothers who saw a need and reached out their hand in God’s name to save a soul.
Through the gift woman He blesses the Church. It says that she teaches. Oh, how I have witnessed this first-hand! From my own experience of Sunday School teachers in my life. To seeing the special women who taught my children in their life, growing up. I thank God for the women in the Church, ministry consists of those women who faithfully teach, teach the children, teach other women, teach in the community, teach in schools. We thank God for our women today who have served our churches and our communities through teaching.
Through the gift of woman He blesses Children. The covenant of God’s grace was as important then as it is now. Mothers play a critical part of the continuation of the faith by inculcating the children in faith in God so that the children grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Of course, this is what Mothers’ Day is all about. Children are blessed. Mum’s I encourage you, you are overseeing the training and development of the next generation of leaders of your nation.
Through the gift of that woman He blesses other women. This is a woman among women, a model to others. Through the gift of that special woman He blesses Mankind. Today we as Christians separate from the world’s picture of womankind.In some cultures, a woman is hidden by the burka. In other cultures, she is hidden by shame. In others, she is veiled in false and unrealistic expectations. But, we who read her story in the Bible refuse to see women as anything other than the gift of God, the last created.
She is mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend. She is a child of God. That is her identity.
Today, as you think of your mother, your wife, or another woman in your life who nurtured you, raised you, helped you, taught you, cared for you, or shared the gospel with you, remember that this woman was a gift of God to show you His love. And the greatest way we can honour our mothers today, or any day, is to honour God, by following that One that woman brought forth: Jesus of Nazareth, as Lord and Saviour of our lives.
And ladies, young women, and my daughters in faith: remember that your identity is not in an unrealistic standard made by anything or anyone in this world. Your identity is as a precious daughter of the Father who sent His only begotten Son to fulfill the perfection that you couldn’t fulfill and to suffer and die and rise again from the dead for your sin. He has removed your shame and replaced it with honour.
This is the gospel in this passage and the gospel for this day.
Happy Mother’s Day! Blessings and honour be poured out on you, your house hold and your ministry.
~ Annita Irving - PFCCI Australia