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July 6, 2009

Liberia, A Country Profile & Prayer Guide

Filed under: Country Profiles and Prayer Guides,Liberia — TimMc @ 12:57 pm


After almost two decades of civil war, which claimed over 250,000 lives, Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic and still one of its poorest nations may be on the rebound. In 2006, the country took the bold step of electing the first woman president ever for the continent of Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. With the presence of several thousand UN troops, she has begun the daunting task of rebuilding Liberia. The people are responding well to her leadership and much progress is being made in rebuilding the shattered country.

Liberia is a lush, rainforested country located on West Africa’s southern flank. Visitors will enjoy the opportunity of exploring the sprawling city of Monrovia, relaxing on the beach, or venturing into the pristine wilderness of Sapo National Park. A great description of Liberia in times past can be found in Graham Greene’s “Journey without Maps”, an account of his overland trip across the country in 1935. Of course, it’s not an up-to-date guide-book, the descriptions and the atmosphere of the country it creates – particularly when dealing with the mysterious and jungle-rich interior – make the book a valuable and entertaining introduction for anyone planning to visit Liberia.

A few interesting facts about Monrovia:

  • It has a population of 4.5 million people, with 16 major ethnic groups divided in three language families.
  • English is the official language.
  • 38% literacy rate (was 64% in 1990 prior to civil war)
  • The country has abundant water, plentiful natural resources of iron, diamonds, rubber, timber, etc.
  • Liberia was founded as a Christian state. There continues to be freedom of religion in theory, but in practice there is pressure on Christians to conform to occult secret societies. Religious and denominational figures are mostly estimates due to massive numbers fleeing the civil war.

Specific ways to pray for Liberia:

  • The civil war was a tragedy for Liberia, the country was devastated and the people traumatized. It was also a blight that poisoned much of West Africa, especially Sierra Leone and increasingly Guinea. Its roots lay in deep ethnic hatreds, greed, lust for power, and in a compromised Christianity that gave Satan opportunity.
  • Pray specifically for:
  1. Government and leadership that rejects oppression, institutional violence, and the endemic culture of extortion and corruption.
  2. Reconciliation between the ethnic groups which were involved in fighting, atrocities and massacres – especially the Mandingo and Krahn on one side and the Mano and Gio on the other.
  3. A healing of the terrible physical, psychological, and spiritual wounds of the war – 65% of the population have been, and many are still, refugees. Almost the entire population has either been victims or perpetrators of unspeakable crimes.
  • The rescue of the children of war. Little children were forced to become soldiers. Virtually all 1,400,000 children under 17 have been traumatized, lost their education, and many orphaned. Hunger, violence, homelessness, and drug abuse are widespread. Pray for churches and agencies seeking to repair some of the damage, restore family life, and bring them the gospel.
  • For decades Christians compromised with evil on an alarming scale. Freemasonry imported by the early settlers fused with indigenous tribal secret societies to become a pervasive influence that corrupted and compromised politics and nearly every denomination, whether mainline, evangelical or Pentecostal. During the war, Christians who refused to compromise were persecuted in some areas. Stagnation, failure of the gospel to advance in Liberia’s hinterland, lack of concern for the lost, and spiritual impotence so widespread in the churches are due to condoned sin, witchcraft, alcoholism, and polygamy among ‘Christians’. Pray for the binding of these spiritual forces and for a new day of freedom and power in the Holy Spirit for the Church.
  • There are signs of hope. The agony of the nation has driven Christians to new prayer and earnestness for the gospel. Christians have had miraculous deliverances, soldiers have repented of horrible crimes, new leaders with vision have been raised up, and there have been localized revivals in the midst of sorrow. Since the war ended over 150 churches have been started. The Association of Evangelicals has regrouped and begun plans for future reconstruction and evangelization. Pray that out of the fires may come a purified Church that can bring reconciliation between ethnic groups, a blessing to the many needing spiritual help and can resume the incomplete evangelization of the country.
  • Ministry to individuals, families and to Liberian society – impoverished, embittered, and demoralized through what they have suffered – is essential. This has to be largely a Liberian initiative. Pray for CURE (Christians United to Rehabilitate Ex-combatants) and ACCESS giving help to resettle displaced farmers. Foreign aid agencies poured in help and supplies, but unwittingly became prolongers of the war – the combatants stole the food, vehicles and aid intended for their victims. Most foreign agencies had to withdraw much of their ministry. Pray for wisdom for WVI, World Relief, TEAR Fund, YWAM and many others who are seeking to give assistance.
  • Ministry to young people and children was halted by war and a whole generation of children needs to be evangelized. Pray for the ministry of SU, YFC and the churches, to children and young people. IFES is rebuilding its ministry to students.
  • Trained spiritual leaders are few in number. Many had to flee or were killed; most Bible training was brought to a halt or struggled to survive with limited resources and personnel. Some refugees studied theology in the West or elsewhere in Africa and are returning with wider vision. Others have planted thriving churches among the Liberian diaspora. Bible schools and seminaries are slowly opening and rebuilding – the Baptist Seminary, Africa Bible College, and ACFI Bible School among them. Pray for the raising up of a new generation of leaders who preach the whole gospel without compromise, competitiveness or jealousies.
  • Islam’s rapid expansion has slowed. Muslim Mandingo support for the previous, largely Krahn regime, their cruelty to Christians in areas where they were in the majority, and their relative wealth provoked a cruel response from other tribes. Many Mandingo were killed or fled to Guinea, and up to 1,000 mosques were destroyed or damaged. Liberia was going to be a major center for Islamic growth in West Africa – one of the factors that provoked the war. Pray for the winning of many Muslims to Christ.
  • Pray for the less-reached peoples. Of all Liberia’s indigenous peoples, only three are majority Christian, despite considerable exposure to the gospel. Most still follow traditional religions; some are Muslim. There are 13 people groups in which there is not yet a viable, growing, indigenous church-planting movement.
  • Missionaries have had a long, hard, uphill struggle to plant churches in the interior – disease, language diversity, entrenched fetishism, and now the disruption of war have all hampered the work. About 10 Protestant and Catholic missionaries have lost their lives in the conflict. All had to leave the country in 1996, a few have returned to minister in Monrovia and among the large refugee communities in surrounding lands. Pray for wisdom about the return of expatriates to assist in rebuilding the work so painstakingly established in the past and also to help the Liberian church complete the evangelization of every people. The largest missions before the war were: SIM, United Methodists, NTM, Baptist Mid-Missions, Lutheran Bible Translators, North American Lutherans, IMB-SBC and CRWM.
  • Bible translation and distribution ministries were gravely disrupted. There are still 11 languages with a definite translation need.
  • Christian literature. Many pastors and Christians lost all they owned, and there is a great lack of Bibles, New Testaments, and Christian literature.
  • The JESUS film has been viewed by the majority of the population and has had converting impact on Muslims.
  • GRN has now a Liberian base and their tape recordings are being used in 42 languages and dialects.
  • Christian radio. Until its destruction in 1990 and again in 1996, SIM’s Radio ELWA was Africa’s best known station, with 270 hours/week broadcasting in 44 languages. Praise God for the years of seed-sowing and discipling ministry. In February 2000 ELWA was once more resurrected – six hours daily of English broadcasting. Now there are plans for 16 languages to be broadcast. Pray for their realization, provision of equipment and funds, and also peace and safety to permit resumption of the ministry.

One Response to “Liberia, A Country Profile & Prayer Guide”

  1. Brenda says:

    Thank you for this vital information. I am deeply concerned that Christians pray and serve effectively and knowledgeably in Liberia or wherever. Living in the era of mission teams going out in great numbers – how important it is for Christian mission teams to seek out what really will make a difference for the Kingdom of God, and how they can best effectively accomplish a meaningful, purposeful mission. This information is immensely valuable for that purpose. Many thanks! We will do our best to pass on the information.

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