Vision or Purpose statement
ABWE missionaries have come along side their Liberian brothers in the African Fundamental Baptist Mission (AFBM) to help equip national pastors and build a network of evangelical churches. ABWE's assistance in building and operating the medical clinic in Gbarnga, central Liberia, has created a base from which physical and spiritual needs of the people in remote locations can be met.
The basis of missions is evangelism and church planting, but as relationships are strengthened God continues to open doors of opportunity for service in this country. In association with the African Fundamental Baptist Mission, ABWE is committed to enable:
- The formation of theological institutes for the training of Liberian pastors and evangelists.
- The development of Christian Day-schools for the spiritual education of Liberian children.
- The establishment of medical clinics that will minister to both the physical and spiritual needs of the people.
- The promotion of an agricultural program that will help national pastors to become self-supporting.
History – when and how the work got started
Liberia is a country in shambles. Founded in the early 1800’s by freed America and Caribbean slaves, Liberia thrived and grew as a major agricultural and raw material exporter. That progress ended with a 1980 military coup and subsequent 14-year dictatorship and civil war. More than 250,000 Liberians were killed during this era and thousands remain refugees in surrounding countries. Liberia’s infrastructure and economy are in ruins, and most evangelical agencies were forced into exile. The political situation has stabilized since an US/UN fostered peace treaty in August 2003. Fair and free elections were possible again in 2006, but the country is destroyed.
Strategizing for survival, Liberian national pastors united to form the African Fundamental Baptist Mission, the AFBM. This partnership enabled churches to endure the long night and to persevere in advancing the cause of Christ in Liberia. ABWE missionaries did not forget the Macedonian call of the Liberian pastors. Their invitation to "come and help us" was honored, and in 1999 ABWE field administrator Ron Washer led a survey team into Liberia to assess damage and discuss a partnership with AFBM leadership.
Despite the ruined landscape, the people are rebuilding. In the years since the war ended medical clinics are slowly opening their doors, but they are inadequately staffed and ill equipped to meet the overwhelming need. Schools closed for the duration of the war are re-gathering children that were denied an education for seven years. Churches without roofs or doors are inviting hardened and hopeless neighbors into their fellowships. They bear the scars of a war-torn people, but are committed to rebuilding.
Cultural understanding – challenges nationals face, challenges for visitors
Liberia lies on the west coast of Africa. The name comes from the English word "liberty" and refers to the nation's origin as a colony of free blacks repatriated to Africa from the United States in the early nineteenth century. Although the settlers and their descendants, known as Americo-Liberians, defined the boundaries of the nation-state, made English the official language, and dominated the government and economy for almost one hundred fifty years, they have never constituted as much as 5 percent of the population. The remaining people belong to sixteen broadly defined ethnolinguistic groups of the Niger-Congo family. The Mel (West Atlantic) group consists of the Gola and Kissi, who are believed to be the oldest inhabitants. The Mande group, made up of Mandingo, Vai, Gbandi, Kpelle, Loma, Mende, Gio, and Mano peoples, is believed to have entered the area from the northern savannahs in the fifteenth century. The southern and eastern areas are inhabited by people who speak Kruan (Kwa) languages; the Bassa, Dei (Dey), Grebo, Kru, Belle (Kuwaa), Krahn, and Gbee are linguistically related to the peoples of the Niger delta far to the east.
The official language is English, which is used for instruction in all public and mission schools and in university education. A significant portion of the population is bilingual and often competent in several indigenous languages as well as English. Those in the regions bordering Ivory Coast and Guinea are often conversational in French. The English spoken in most common, informal settings is "Liberian English," a creole form.
The nation's origin as a nation-state lies in a paradox of United States history. Even before the end of the war for American independence, public figures such as Thomas Jefferson were concerned about the status of free people of African descent and their integration into a free society. The American Colonization Society (ACS), dedicated to the resettlement of free people of color outside the United States, was founded in 1816. The ACS used private funds donated by wealthy white contributors to "purchase" land in west Africa and recruit African-American settlers, the first group of whom arrived in 1822. Most of the earliest immigrants had been born free; they were relatively well educated and belonged to an emerging class of free black professionals and businessmen. Although white administrators appointed by the ACS governed the colony in the early years, in 1847 the settlers declared independence and became the first sovereign black republic in Africa.
Before the civil war of 1989–1997, Liberia was predominantly rural, with the majority of the population involved in subsistence agriculture; small-scale market production of cash crops such as rubber, sugar, palm oil, and citrus fruits; or producing primary products for export (iron ore, rubber, and tropical hardwoods). Monrovia had a population of about two hundred thousand, and other coastal cities had less than one hundred thousand. Areas of resource exploitation operated by foreign-owned concessions were the primary population centers in the interior. During the war, the population of Monrovia swelled to over three hundred thousand as refugees attempted to escape from the fighting in the interior.
While rural communities still contain examples of traditional round huts with thatched conical roofs, most newer houses have a rectangular floor plan and are roofed with sheets of corrugated zinc or tin. Wattle and daub construction, in which a lattice of sticks is packed with mud and covered with clay or cement, is the most common building method regardless of the shape of the structure, but many people aspire to a house built of cement cinder blocks and may spend years acquiring the blocks. Rural communities have a "palaver hut," an open-sided roofed structure that functions as a town hall for public discussions and the hearing of court cases.
There is a status division between the minority claiming descent from the American settlers and the indigenous majority. The settler group contains people at all class levels, from rich to poor, who continue to maintain a sense of prestige and entitlement. In the indigenous community, a distinction between "civilized" and "native" people emerged early in the nineteenth century as a result of mission education and labor migration along the coast. Civilized ("kwi") status implies facility with English, a nominal allegiance to Christianity, a degree of literacy, and involvement with the cash rather than the subsistence sector. Although kwi people maintain their ethnic identities as Grebo, Kru, Vai, or Kpelle, an undeniable prestige difference separates them from their native neighbors and kin. Civilized people, especially women, are distinguished by Western-style clothing and household furnishings. The association is so strong that native women are also known as "lappa women," a reference to the two pieces of cloth (lappas) that constitute native female dress.
During the civil war, all legal and social control institutions experienced complete breakdown. Random massacres were conducted by armed fighters as young as nine years old in the service of warlords with no political agenda beyond survival and profit. Since 1997, Liberian legal institutions have been slowly reestablished, but many abuses of civil rights have continued.
Description of the present facilities, staff, capabilities
The medical clinic in Gbarnga, Central Liberia is a basic structure to provide on-going care for underserved people coming from as far away as neighboring countries. A recent addition to the structure provides additional space for examinations and may also serve training classrooms. ABWE staff families join AFBM pastors and families to man the clinic and minister in the surrounding communities. Steve Trexler, an ABWE missionary, has obtained government approval to begin a Physician's Assistant training program for Nationals based in proximity to the Gbarnga Clinic.
Needs in the community – physical, emotional, spiritual
An entire generation of young men was lost during the civil war. Damage to basic infrastructure like roads, running water and electricity was so extensive it will take more than a decade to repair. Unemployment percentages are staggering. Much can be done to successfully reintegrate returning refugees, internally displaced persons and ex-combatants. NGO programs in Liberia currently focus on child protection and development, environmental health, medical services, gender-based violence programming, community development, education, and building employment opportunities.
To this fractured society add the influences of tribal beliefs, spiritism, cults and Islamic teachings, and you can imagine the hunger which exists for the truth and hope of God's Word.
How ABWE is striving to address these needs
One of the main reasons we are going as a team is the medical ministry itself in the hospital, clinic, ward, and operating room. The spiritual ministry will be working with the nationals and/or missionaries in various opportunities. Usually these ministries will be in and through the local church with testimonies, perhaps some special music and even some out of our group preaching. Perhaps some are seeking Gods will for their life. The short-term experience is an excellent opportunity for cross-cultural exposure looking at the mission field and throughout the experience praying and asking Gods direction for our lives.
In addition ABWE full time missionaries are strengthening relationships and helping equip nationals to rebuild their country and restore their national identity. Considerable progress has been made in formal train for national Pastors, a key to influencing people in tribal villages in the truth of the Gospel.
Specific medical opportunities for short-term service (how and where you can plug in)
A primary objective of this trip will be to share the love of Jesus Christ by providing primary healthcare for those in need. Caring for peoples' physical needs will often open the door to address their spiritual needs as well.
With the help of nationals, part of the team will take simple patient histories. At the end of the history they will ask the patient a “spiritual question.” Those who are unbelievers will be given a testimony witness and a tract. Patients can be lead to Christ as the Spirit leads. At the end of the history it will be noted that the patient is “saved”, “just saved”, “interested”, “not interested.” The doctors, through their translators will follow up especially on the “just saved” and “interested.”
Crucial to all of this is involvement of the local church members & leaders. Near the end of each clinic day, participants will initiate and train nationals to conduct small group discipleship meetings. Each day, usually in the evening, we will be gathering as a team to have group devotions & prayer. Ministry partners may join in this time to know more about decisions being made.
Care Providers Needed: MDs, PAs, NPs, RNs, PTs, Dentists, Optometrists, pharmacists and other healthcare-related personnel. In addition, non-medical personnel are needed to lead other aspects of care and overall ministry.
- Saturday – depart US
- Sunday – arrive in Monrovia, travel to Gbarnga.
- Monday – clinic orientation and preparations.
- Tues-Fri, and Mon-Thurs – Gbarnga clinic and mobile clinics to surrounding villages.
- Sat. & Sun. – rest, worship, tour.
- 2nd Friday, – rest, tour, pack, prepare for return
- Sat.& Sun - return to Monrovia, return to US
Testimonies from some who have served there
"I never dreamed that I would have the opportunity to share the gospel with a Muslim. Moreover, if given the opportunity, I feared (in my flesh) that at the mention of the name Jesus, people would reject what I was saying. But the Holy Spirit can work in the hearts of all men because we know God desires that all would come to faith in Him (II Peter 3:9). So when I presented the Gospel to the Muslim woman I did so in weakness; not expecting the outcome I received. Using an EvangiCube as a tool, the instant I shared that Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven and that He paid the penalty for ALL of mankinds sins, the woman shouted "I want that!" With the help of a translator I was able to pray with her to receive Christ as Savior. That week I had the privilage of leading 4 Muslims to faith in Jesus Christ." 2006 Trip Participant.
Logistics: accommodations, preparations and requirements, travel and cost information
The team generally will converge at a convenient US or EU rendezvous city and fly as a team to Monrovia. Lodging will be simple, duel occupancy hotel-like rooms at a Guest House or compound in Gbarnga. Local transportation will be buses or vans arranged by ABWE staff. All meals will be prepared locally by qualified staff. Safe drinking water will be provided, but conditions in Gbarnga will be more rugged than some. Electricity in the evening is usually by generator and hot water for showers is infrequent, if at all. Bucket showers from stream water is more likely.
A project fee of $1100 per participant is charged (depending upon team size) which covers all local travel, accomodations and meals, as well as ministry/medical supplies used throughout the project. This is the only amount paid to ABWE; other expenses are paid directly to the provider. International airfare is about $2300 including taxes depending on your departure city. A Passport ($75) and Visa ($150) are required for entry, as well as special vaccinations ($150). $100 for personal expenses /gifts might be appropriate. A $100 non-refundable deposit toward the project fee is payable to ABWE once you are assigned to the team. The remaining project fee balance is due to ABWE 30 days prior to departure. Total costs, therefore, should be in a range of $3500-$3800 US per participants.
How you can sign up
God's been tugging at your heart to join Him on the mission field. You've cruised the websites, read the brochures, talked with others, checked your schedule, and prayed for the Lord's direction. You may already have a sense of where God is calling you, or you may still be undecided. That's OK. You may know how you're going to pay for the trip, both in finances and time, or you may not really know how all that is going to work out. You've come to the place where you have peace about trusting the Lord with the details. Now it's time to step out in faith.
If you believe God is calling you to serve with us in medical missions, please review the information contained on the navigation tab to the left entitled "Qualifications for Short Term Team Service". If you meet these qualifications and are in agreement with ABWE's Doctrinal Statement, you may begin the Application process at ABWE's secure on-line site: https://applications.abwe.org/ Select the Medical Short Term (Rotations and Teams) Application.
For additional information or if you have questions, contact Rick Smith at email@example.com or call 678-358-4801.