Former President Sirleaf challenges the Church
By Tina S. Mehnpaine
Liberia’s former President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has called on the Christian church to lift up its voice to speak truth to everyone including to those in power, and teach the people to take responsibilities of themselves and their country.
Madam Sirleaf serving as a guest of honor at the launch of the Faith Justice Network of Liberia (FJN), a faith-based organization, told the gathering that the church has the responsibility to guide the flock, which is made possible by lifting the voices of the church in truth and teaching that which makes the people take responsibility for their destinies while asking the Almighty for His blessings and protection along the way.
“Human progress comes from hard work and honesty, for no matter how much God loves us, his promise must be fulfilled — ‘by the sweat of your brow, shall you eat bread’ — this promise is true for us,” said the former President.
The Faith and Justice Network of Liberia’s launching program, where former President Sirleaf spoke, was about “Impacts Assessment joint ecumenical collective response action to the COVID-19 pandemic,” and its aim is to reawaken the collective efforts among Christians to curb the virus.
Madam Sirleaf said amid the hardship that the pandemic has brought upon the country, it is time that the church responds.
“The church must respond. Our country must respond. We must change with the time and learn to adjust to the changing circumstances of our reality because change does not adjust to mankind. It is mankind that must always adjust to change,” she said.
She urged Liberians to treat each other more humanely and fairly, respect, and care about each other more because humans have come to depend on one another to make a living.
Giving an overview of the forum, FJN Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors, Rev. Dr. Nuwoe James Kiamu, said: “Today’s gathering is for us as church leaders to find a way to answer some of the questions that the public continues to ask on a daily basis, ‘what is the church saying about rape issues?'”
“This gathering is about impacts, especially in the wake of this COVID-19 pandemic. What has this thing done, is doing, and might do with and to us? And how should we brace ourselves for the impacts? Even more so, what do COVID-19’s impacts tell us about ourselves? Do we have any impact on COVID-19 or are we only concerned about its impacts on us?” asked the clergyman.
The church, in no doubt, is one major social institution hosting a large segment of Liberia’s population with significant levels of influence over its members. It is branded in having faith in Jesus Christ and speaking the truth as the Bible, the religious book of the Christians, dictates.
In this connection, Kiamu asked further: “What is the Church doing?” “What direction is the Church taking and what is it saying in such a time?”
“Many people lament that the Church is seemingly losing a prophetic voice and I wish it could speak a little louder and a little firmer, to live a little more just and peaceful, cleaning up its own messy backyard,” he recalled.
The FJN, as an ecumenical, body desires to foster rich, healthy, and sustained relationships between and among faith communities across the country to develop a collective response action plans toward COVID-19 and addressing the increasing rape issues in the country.