President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has challenged Liberia’s churches to rise up and join her government in the fight against hunger and poverty.
She made the call Thursday, March 13, when she launched the Anti-Hunger Program at the 29th General Assembly of the Liberian Council of Churches (LCC) held in Brewerville, outside Monrovia.
The 29th General Assembly of the LCC is being held under the theme: “The Role of the Church in Fighting Hunger and Poverty.”
Launching the program, President Sirleaf stated that there was a need for churches in Liberia to partner with government to end hunger.
“Today we applaud these churches for their stand taken to fight hunger. It is important that churches see themselves as strong partners in improving food security. We welcome the partnership and would like to work with you all to ensure that our nation can become hunger free,” she told the church leaders.
She said that agriculture in Liberia when prioritized by all citizens would move the economy forward.
“Liberia is rich with fertile soil but its citizens must be willing to invest. We would like to see food crops being planted as we drive from Monrovia to the rural areas,” she said.
She, however, noted that churches cannot succeed at fighting hunger if citizens are not willing to invest in the soil.
She assured the churches of her government’s commitment to the fight against hunger.
“We would like to know what your plans are to provide the necessary support for food security,” the President requested.
President Sirleaf used the occasion to make a contribution of US$5,000 toward the LCC food security program.
She lauded the churches for their roles in providing education, health and other basic social services to citizens.
In his opening statement, clergyman of the Methodist Church in Nigeria, Rt. Rev. Dr, Raphael Opoko, reiterated the call for Liberian churches to take responsibility in helping national government to fight hunger and poverty.
Rev. Opoko said that the mission of all churches was holistic.
“Churches are not only about preaching the gospel to people. They are also concerned with meeting the physical needs of the poor in the world. Therefore we must get involved in fighting hunger and poverty,” he explained.
He said that it was not the intention of God for mankind to suffer in poverty and from hunger.
Mr. Opoko told the LCC members that as, a religious body they should go beyond their charitable programs in the country.
“Silent no more is the wake-up call for churches.” he asserted.
He stressed the need for the church to be involved in building the human resource capacity of the nation.
According to Rev. Opoko the church is the conscience of the society that people will always look for direction, he said “Churches are institutions that do not need to rely on government. It is their duty to create programs that will help assist people.”
The Methodist Reverend stated that the problem of hunger greatly affects pregnant women.
He said that hungry women are likely to give birth to malnutrition children.
He then expressed the hope that the LCC’s initiative for food security would help government solve the problem of hunger in Liberia.