Mother Edith Whisnant Ricks, a Liberian Minister of the Gospel and humanitarian focused on building up disadvantaged girls, has received honor from people her ministry has impacted over the years. She is the founder of the Gates Agape Ministries, and serves there as Presiding Elder for Liberia, West Africa.
The honor was bestowed on Mother Ricks during the celebration of her 70th birth anniversary on Sunday, December 18, at a local resort along the Roberts International Airport (RIA) highway.
Honoring Mother Ricks, said members of her Gates Agape Church Ministries, is predicated upon impactful investments she has made in the lives of hundreds of Liberian girls since 1983.
Apostle Samuel M. Kollie, resident pastor of Agape Church, said Mother Ricks had established a girls’ hostel where free tuition, room and board were provided for unprivileged girls. He revealed that sexually abused girls received special treatment.
These initiatives, which the guest of honor Mother Ricks described as “Building Cathedrals” in people, led the beneficiaries of the gesture and members of the church to lavish praises on her, wishing her many more years in addition to the “three-score and ten (70)” the Lord has already blessed her with, and vibrant strength.
Many of the guests gave inspiring testimonies during the convivial (friendly, warm, hospitable) celebration. They included the honoree’s daughter, Mrs. Florachel Addy, a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) who flew in from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA), for the occasion. Others were the pastor of Agape Church, Apostle Samuel M. Kollie, and the Ricks, Traub and Best families. The remaining included some of the girls who benefited from Mother Ricks’ humanitarian programs and generosity.
In her testimony, Mrs. Addy praised her mother for taking care of her and her siblings and affording them a sound education, which enabled them to become the professionals they are today. With tears of joy, Mrs. Addy praised her mother for being a good example and an inspiration to them and wished her a long and happy life.
She said that was especially grateful to see her mother reach 70, an age that is hard to attain (reach) nowadays.
Apostle Samuel M. Kollie maintained that Mother Ricks’ humanitarian outreach to so many young girls not only impacted disadvantaged and underprivileged girls, but also some members of the Agape Ministries she established.
“God set three-score and ten, which is 70 years, for human beings to live on this earth; and by reason of strength a person might go four scores (80 years). But it is difficult for people to reach this age nowadays because of many kinds of lifestyles. Mother Ricks reaching this point in good health and strength is God’s blessing, His reward to her for how she has upheld the life He gave her. And we know she will go far beyond 70 years,” Kollie said.
He boasted that Mother Ricks’ investment in people, including members of the church, has resulted in the building of a large edifice “that will be dedicated within the shortest possible time.”
Mrs. Clara Ricks, speaking for the Ricks family, congratulated and thanked her sister-in-law, , for the great contribution she has made in the lives of many young Liberian girls.
“We love you, Sister Edith, and appreciate you for the good name you have brought to the Ricks family because of the great humanitarian work you are doing among Liberia’s young people,” she said.
Mrs. Ricks pledged her family’s continued support to the project.
Mrs. Thelma Traub Awori, speaking on behalf of the Traub family, said they, like Edith, come from a strong Lutheran background and regularly attended the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. She said that she, too, was among the girls the African American missionary mothers impacted as they ran the Methodist Girls Hostel at 12th Street and Tubman Boulevard in Monrovia.
She commended Mother Ricks for the wonderful work she is doing, and also for having made and “is still making a positive impact on these young Liberian women.”
Mrs. Awori further commended Mother Ricks for making her ministry a global enterprise.
Mrs. Mae Gene Best, the younger sister of Mrs. Awori and wife of Daily Observer publisher Kenneth Y. Best, said Mother Ricks “is a longtime friend.” Mrs. Best recalled their time at the Methodist Girls Hostel, going to school and sharing in the rich educational, spiritual and social experiences she, Mrs. Ricks and so many girls from up country and Monrovia enjoyed.
Mrs. Best expressed disappointment that such a facility no longer exists in Monrovia or anywhere else in the country, where girls were protected from the streets. “Where is the Methodist Girls Hostel today?” she asked with nostalgia.
Mrs. Best pledged her support to Mother Ricks’ work, adding that giving publicity to her cause in the newspaper will be part of her and her family’s financial and moral support “to this important humanitarian endeavor.”
In a cheerful tone, Mrs. Best said, “You have joined the 70s group. Welcome!”
Meanwhile, beneficiaries of the Agape founder’s work celebrated their guardian’s birthday in song, including the popular: “I need you, you need me.”
In response, Mother Edith N. Ricks expressed appreciation to her admirers and said “I love to hear people saying what I have done; thanks to all of you for the honor. I told people I will build a cathedral in people and not just a physical structure because these very people will help to build the church, and this is exactly what has happened. The ugly thing I did for these children is what they are paying back to me tonight. I can remember when I was taking care of about 75 girls in White Plains during the war. It was quite challenging to do during that time of crisis, but God was on our side and He fed and protected us, so that most of the girls are young adults as you can see among you today.”
She recalled that she established the Agape Ministries in her living room where she and her girl children used to worship.
Comparing those days to now, the articulate prelate indicated that today, love has dwindled and there is no compassion, dedication and affection.
“Love is completely absent, no dedication and unity, and people are just living with selfish attitudes today,” she added.
She further stressed that “we need unity as Liberians, and it must start with each of us gathered here today.”
She said with the ongoing construction of the church, her major focus now is to build a girls’ dormitory.