From the Field – Oct. 16, ’15 – Liberia Update

Written by | October, 2015
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Liberia Update

In 2010 Alvin Jask from Liberia was baptized as an adult and professed his Christian faith according to what we believe and teach from the Bible here at Grace Lutheran Church in Fridley, MN. Since then others from his family originally from Liberia have also joined us. One of his nephews is now enrolled in our Christian School. Grace has been richly blessed through their fellowship!

Liberia is probably best known for Ebola because of how it took so many lives in 2014. According to health officials, this is not a current threat. However, Liberia is still consistently ranked as one of the poorest nations in the world. Not long ago civil war ravaged everything and significantly set back any national progress. There are also a number of people who are physically impaired due to the violence of the war, some missing limbs and without eyesight, others with deformities due to medical inattention. Healthcare is neither readily available nor affordable to many Liberians. On YouTube is a very good documentary that describes the current situation. Search “LIBERIA: Emerging from the Shadows?” (

Even though Liberia has had various setbacks to its progress (e.g., Ebola), the people there have a fervent yearning to rebuild. Because of this, Liberia’s current president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf whom Alvin knows personally, has a number of governmental initiatives in place to rebuild the economy through improvement of roads, infrastructure, healthcare, etc. Alvin has a personal desire to contribute to this process, having an obvious love for his homeland. Having seen and experienced many of the blessings of living in the United States, he wants to take what he has learned to help his people.

But more importantly, Alvin has a stronger desire to share the Good News of salvation found through our Savior, Jesus Christ. It often seems that the Lord’s hand is at work when nations have experienced such lows. This pattern was often repeated with God’s people throughout Biblical times. During the period of the Judges there was an oft-repeated cycle of repentance after they had experienced devastation. Could this same cycle be part of what is happening in Liberia? One thing we do know, the Gospel always has the power to heal!

From the time he began instruction at Grace and learned about his Savior, Alvin has been committed and excited to share the Gospel in his home country. He has spent a significant amount of his own money to construct a building in order to start a Christian Day School a few miles northeast of Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia. He is now also planning on the construction of a church building nearby. This area is located along the Monrovia-Kakata Highway, a major road which has been recently upgraded. Alvin also has another building in a remote area near Bopolu, about 65 miles north of Monrovia, even though his goal for this to be a Christian Day School has recently been put on hold. This is because the intended teacher, his niece, died of tuberculosis.

For a few years now, Alvin has been making regular trips between Liberia and the United States in order to manage construction and the development of various projects at the compound near Monrovia. He traveled there this July (2015) and intends to stay until January of 2016. These efforts are intended to help his people and to support the ministry of the Word. He has started a well to supply filtered water (something rare there) and to have a laundromat and latrine. Some may already know that Alvin is legally blind. He is taking the tools he has learned in America to also provide training and technological advantages for the sight-impaired, currently with 12 students. Recently Alvin stated that this far exceeds his original expectations. In addition, he is using his IT management training to provide an internet café. The location for this is quite clever as the University of Liberia – Fendell Campus is a few blocks away. Students there currently do not have internet access, so its availability will be a local draw. This campus was recently constructed in 2010, so the area is also developing with some newer construction.

For the past few years, Alvin and Pastor have been sharing ideas as to how to proceed in Liberia. The CLC Board of Missions has also been informed of Alvin’s efforts. The key is to have people in place who believe and teach the Bible as we do. Therefore Alvin has been reaching out to many people he knows, especially since he has many contacts through his former job as the spokesman for the Liberia National Police. He now has 25 contacts who are eager for Biblical instruction, including five pastors and a few people who are interested in helping him staff his Christian Day School. Because of this, plans have been in the works to provide face-to-face Biblical training and also investigate whether there could be doctrinal agreement with the pastors.

As reported to the Voters and the Council, Pastor Hein has been making plans for a trip to Liberia. The Elders at Grace have been consulted and are allowing Pastor Hein to proceed as long as Grace is not financially responsible for the trip. Pastor Daniel Fleischer, retired pastor at Grace, is willing to help with the pastoral responsibilities while Pastor Hein would be away. The CLC Board of Missions also desires to help in this effort by sending retired missionary, Pastor David Koenig, to Liberia as well. Things are now quickly unfolding for this effort to materialize. Recently an itinerary was scheduled from November 2nd through November 14th.

Pastor Hein plans to fly out of Minneapolis on November 2nd, travel through Newark, NJ, and Brussels, Belgium, in order to reach Monrovia. Pastor Hein would do some preliminary contact work until Missionary Koenig arrives on November 8th. During that time, Pastor Hein would meet some of the people who are interested in our Biblical training. He will also meet some of the family of our members here at Grace, including the mother of Rachelle Kanneh who has been ill for a number of months. Pastor Hein is also trying to arrange for a few worship services to which others would be invited, including a service on Liberia’s national Thanksgiving Day modeled after our own in the United States. Liberia’s is on the first Thursday of November.

After this initial phase of the trip, Missionary Koenig would arrive on the evening of November 8th, the evening after Pastor Hein would hold a Sunday worship service. A three-day, all-day, Bible Seminar sponsored by the CLC Board of Missions would then be held from November 9th through 11th. This would be held at the compound which Alvin has built so that the people would get the connection to his effort there. Following this seminar, Pastor Hein and Missionary Koenig would then meet for more in-depth conversations with the pastors and with those interested in staffing the Christian Day School.

Here is a general summary proposed for the trip:

Mon., Nov. 2 – Pastor flies from Minneapolis to Newark to Brussels

Tue., Nov. 3 – Pastor flies from Brussels and arrives at Monrovia

Wed., Nov. 4 – Visit people and Alvin’s compound to learn about the school

Thu., Nov. 5 – Thanksgiving worship service and visits

Fri., Nov. 6 – Visit people and prepare for Bible seminar

Sat., Nov. 7 – Visit people and prepare for Bible seminar

Sun., Nov. 8 – Sunday Bible Class and worship service (Koenig arrives)

Mon., Nov. 9 – Bible Seminar

Tue., Nov. 10 – Bible Seminar

Wed., Nov. 11 – Bible Seminar

Thu., Nov. 12 – Meeting with pastors and Christian Day School staff

Fri., Nov. 13 – Possible worship service, conclude visits and depart Liberia

As noted, the CLC Board of Missions is sponsoring Missionary Koenig and the seminar. Pastor Hein is responsible for his own travel, albeit some sponsorship is being provided apart from the congregation and the CLC. It is hoped that this trip can provide Alvin much encouragement in his effort to reach out with God’s treasured Word. It is also hoped that following firsthand observations of the situation there by Pastor Hein and Missionary Koenig, Alvin can be provided with some helpful guidance. After reporting these observations to the CLC Board of Missions, future involvement by our church body can be determined.

Please pray that the Lord will richly bless the efforts of this trip to Liberia! To share the Gospel is the most important work with which we can all be involved.

Romans 10:14-18: 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”

Written by Pastor John Hein, 10/2015