TEN YEARS AGO, TWO YOUNG YWAM WOMEN, RENEE AND SUE, WERE RESCUED BY HELICOPTER as civil war engulfed the West African republic of Liberia. As they caught their last backward glances of their adopted country from the air, it seemed all their efforts to establish a work of YWAM had just evaporated in the smoke and debris of the conflict. I remember meeting Sue and Renee in Lausanne as they were recovering from the trauma of the evacuation, wondering what would happen to their friends left behind.
Last month, however, African history was made in Liberia when the first woman president in Africa was elected. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was confirmed as the winner of the first free and fair elections for years, receiving 59% of the vote, defeating the football international, George Weah.
Sue writes that President Sirleaf has a daunting task of re uniting, restoring and developing the country, so long devastated by civil war and corruption. Helping her in this task, writes Sue, is one of the president’s close colleagues, ‘a godly Christian man’ who now has one of the top positions in the country.
This man served on the YWAM legal board when she and Renee founded it in the early 90’s. In fact, she reports, he was and still is chairman.
Since the evacuation in 1996, only one team of Liberian YWAM’ers has operated, running a community development project under Mercy Ministries, in the capital, Monrovia, but this was closed some time ago. In the last year or two, according to Sue, Don Kytka from YWAM Pittsburgh has been visiting Liberia and making plans for the re-establishing of a new team to form on the ground in Liberia. He and his wife hope to go early 2006. He has gathered many of the Liberians who went through our DTS’s in Liberia in the 90’s and many are interested to be a part of a new YWAM work.
“This is very exciting to me,” she writes. “To have (this public figure) interested in missions and in particular YWAM, is also a great blessing and an amazing turn of events,” she added. “Surely, when things die, and all hope is gone, and what you started, all apparently fell apart in the whirlwind of war, surely the Lord knows, and in His timing and way, He resurrects what is of God.”
Reports of professing believers being elected to ruling positions in Africa (and elsewhere) have sometimes preceded disappointments, so Sue requests prayer for her friend and the president as they attempt to lead a healing and restoration process for their once broken nation.
Liberia was established by former slaves from America and the Caribbean after the abolition of slavery in England. Decendents of these slaves make up only 5% of the population, but have dominated the country’s majority indigenous African population ever since. This has led to discontent, resentment and eventually civil war, leading to a death toll of some 200,000. (For more background about Liberia, go to www.news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/country_profiles/1043500.stm)
Sue points out that Liberia has been a place of firsts, being the first republic in Africa (1847), the first place to which a YWAM outreach went (two young men went there in the early 1960’s to build a road and preach on the weekends), and now the first country in Africa to have a woman president. She asks for prayer that this be a new beginning, and that Liberia would once more be able to show the way for other nations.
Till next week,
Till next week,