Today I leave Liberia after 2 weeks of busy but seemingly fruitful ministry, both in terms of the immediate ministry and the longterm relationship with TLI and Liberia International Christian College.
My staying within and among the Liberian community proved to be a delightful relationship for me and a welcomed joy for Othello's family -- the family who took care of me. Not knowing the full impact of such a stay, it became a most intimate bridge of acceptance among all. In the end, I am now adopted into a Liberian family; The Othello family treated me as an honored king.
On my first Sunday I had the privilege of preaching in a rather large church (The Feeding of the 5000). On my second Sunday, I had the privilege of preaching at 2 different churches on 2 different passages suited to the desired needs of each congregation. They all smiled at my double duty. I said, next time we will do 3 churches! They laughed. During the week, I had the privilege of meeting with several significant pastors, mostly to make a relational connection for TLIs continual work in Liberia.
Of course, 2 courses were taught -- Church History and Marriage and Family Education. I never personally learned so much as I did teaching Marriage and Family Education. This was a delightful surprise. The approach was to use Genesis chapters one through three, and the Book of Ephesians as the way back home from the effect of the fall and the reclaimation of the God given world view for spiritual maturity leading to healthy families; healthy families that will serve the future stability of Liberia in generations to come.
Getting to the material was a challenge due to the helpfully vibrant dialogue among the students. As they came to understand God's view of family for all peoples in all places, the energetic dialogue prevailed. The students compared their welcomed embrace of Genesis chapters one and two, against the disruption of Genesis chapter three, in view of their traditional expectations, and there my education began. The students welcomed and enjoyed, in humility, the rethinking of helpful and unhelpful traditions -- I chose to be the student at their cultural evaluation.
Then came the implied hard question of ministry: how do we pastors now bring into practice the changes, in a cultural rooted in long and ancient tradition? In that work I commended the students to their work among Liberian pastors, patience, and beginning the process among their own families, or a small group of women where we had single women, and a small group of men, where we had single men -- big things grow from small beginnings.
Needless to say, among the pastors, our discussion extend wider than the immediate course on Marriage and Family. The link to local church eldership and the importance of the local church for supporting mature believers and strong families became the complement, thus the entire Book of Ephesians.
I met with Dr. Sei on several occasions. Dr. Sei asked me if I would consider, in my normal relationship with TLI and Liberia, if I would become an adjunct faculty member of the theology department of Liberia International Christian College. I said that I think this would be okay with TLI. I will confirm that with our senior administration.
I am personally satisfied as I depart this evening for America. Dr Sei said that I am white on the outside but Liberian on the inside. As a gift, I was given a Liberian shirt. So I said, now I am Liberian on both the inside and outside.
Serving God with You,