The ministry of the laity: fruits of the Liberia partnership
When I think of all of the progress IGRC has made since the beginning of our conference partnership with Liberia, ministry and mission of laity is certainly foremost in my mind.
The consistent interest and commitment of IGRC laity, has brought into reality many projects in Liberia. The very first IGRC mission work team to Liberia in fall of 2006 was entirely laity. Many have traveled to Liberia since that time.
Various projects have sprung up throughout Liberia because IGRC laity went, saw the needs and were inspired to take action. Children IGRC laity have held and visited are now attending school because our hearts were touched and compassion created channels of scholarship funds.
John Kofi Asmah United Methodist School in West Point is a beautiful, life-changing ministry in Liberia all because IGRC laity joyfully took on the challenge of completing this school. What a beacon of hope and a promise for a better future this school represents as it stands three stories jutting above the rusted tin roofs of that crowded, poor slum area of nearly 70,000 people!
The school can be seen from a nearby bridge and from other areas of the city of Monrovia as it stands tall above the roofs of that community. IGRC can be very proud that this school is currently the ONLY school offering education up through the junior high school level in the midst of that huge population.
Yet, the dream continues.
A year ago sitting just outside the doors of John Kofi Asmah School and holding as many kids on my lap that would fit, I entered into a conversation with the mothers sitting nearby. The pride they had as United Methodists as we sat in the shadow of the school was very evident and verbally expressed. As I mentioned another organization had called and asked how IGRC was able to build such a school in the middle of West Point and that this organization was “considering” building a school that would extend through high school, one of the mothers quickly responded: “Oh no! This building will be the high school in West Point!”
Indeed, that is the dream of the John Kofi Asmah School Board. They know the requirements needed to extend the facility to the high school level. One of the large rooms built for an auditorium, but can never realistically hold the entire student body, will be separated into a required library and science lab. A teachers’ lounge is also needed, but space may be available on the third floor of the school.
When our Liberian brothers and sisters say, “God will provide” it is with wonder and amazement that I watch the process of God indeed providing - oh for just a small portion of their deep, unwavering faith in God’s provision. In God’s timing, we will celebrate a K-12 grade school even though this may mean two shifts of classes daily.
Every summer John Kofi Asmah UM School, like all schools, needs a facelift. Each summer, IGRC could easily take a painting and fix-up team to prepare the school for the new school year alongside members of the John Kofi Asmah United Methodist Church. Our presence means far more than any amount for paint we might place on the wall.
The July 2013 mission team did just that with the help of members of the community. We helped paint the two upper floors, but shortly after our team left the entire school receive major repairs in preparation for the new school year – all fresh paint inside and floors repaired from the busy student traffic. What about you? Are you ready to make the journey and experience the community first hand?
Dates are being set for the July 2014 IGRC Liberia team.
One additional need that I am praying IGRC laity will help become a reality is a scholarship assistance program that will link IGRC laity to students in Liberia. The need is great, but within reach. No, we don’t have the capacity or staffing possibilities of World Vision or similar organizations, but John Kofi Asmah UM School would be a good place to pilot such a program. What would it look like if laity in IGRC could be linked with individual students in Liberia? Many who have been to Liberia are already doing this, but we have the capacity to quickly quadruple the number of students now attending school. This will be taken into consideration by the IGRC Liberia Partnership Team.
Thank you, IGRC laity, for your continued commitment to the John Kofi Asmah United Methodist School in West Point – the school that you built!