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.