Many churches throughout Liberia are still preaching to the angels in Heaven, and not to the people on the ground, who are hurting in very serious ways and nobody seems to care—not even their pastors or prelates.
That is aside from the commendable role which the religious community played in the fight against Ebola. They prayed, organized awareness and sensitization campaigns, and contributed materials in the combat.
But we are here talking about the glaring absence of the prophetic ministry and deliberate and widespread evangelistic outreach.
It is to her credit that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, en route back to Monrovia following her Cabinet retreat in Bomi last week, took time off to stop in Brewerville to commiserate with the family of 12 year-old girl Musu Morris who died from rape, committed allegedly by 49 year-old Musa Kromah. The President said she would personally see that the alleged culprit is brought to justice. She went further: the hospital and clinic in Monrovia and Brewerville, respectively, both of which refused treatment to the bleeding child, would be investigated; and so would the police at the Capitol by-Pass-Jallah Town Road intersection, who denied passage of the vehicle carrying the distressed rape victim to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.
The President was reacting to the detailed story by our Woman and Family Correspondent Claudia Smith, published on Wednesday, January 21, 2015. The President and her Justice and Gender Ministers reacted to the story with grave concern.
But how many Liberian pastors read that story? Indeed, how many Liberian pastors, evangelists or even bishops read newspapers or listen to radio? As they ignore the media, no wonder they are oblivious (unaware, unmindful, ignorant) of the terrible happenings in society that should demand, grab, seize their attention and compel them to preach against them. But how can they when they remain ignorant, unperturbed about the happenings around them?
Look what happened in Gbarnga, again in this very month, on January 15, 2015. Eleven-year-old little Darling Garpue went missing, only to be found six days later, on January 21, her private parts and breast missing from her decomposed body! The alleged doer of this heinous crime is Alvin Morris, whose girl friend had sent the child to carry food to his room.
Here is a triple crime of rape, murder and ritualistic killing right in Gbarnga, capital city of one of our most populous counties and home to the nation’s largest ethnic group, the Kpelle. Remember, the Kpelle are so numerous that they span, and in many instances dominate, at least six counties—Bong, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Gbarpolu, Margibi—all four of whom border Bong—and Montserrado.
These counties comprise the citadel (stronghold) of the Porro and Sande traditions, known throughout history as the organizations offering the right of passage to boys and girls into adulthood. But these societies are also marred by practices of female genital mutilation (FGM) and dangerous ritualistic practices.
Here is a very serious opportunity for evangelism, but instead of penetrating the interior heartland with the Gospel, most churches, especially the new Pentecostal and Charasmatic, are busy proselytizing (recruiting), one another’s members who are already convert Christians. The churches have ignored the nearly 60 percent of Liberians who practice animism or African traditional religions, or who spend most of their time in the dark and deadly domain of the bush.
This failure to evangelize our unconverted brethren is a serious indictment on not only the churches of today but of yesterday, too. And this is reflected in their sermons every Sunday, which ignore and leave millions of our people to the mercy and tyranny of the negative enclave of traditional culture.
Gone, it seems, are the days of the prophetic ministry, when Reverend Canon Burgess Carr, Rev. Toimu Reeves, Mother Wilhelmina Dukuly, Archbishop Michael K. Francis and few others, preached from the pulpit hitting at the evils of society—the corrupt and despotic politicians and military men as well as the evils of secret societies.
It would be good to take a survey of how many sermons mentioned what happened in Brewerville last week.
We call on our evangelists, pastors, reverends and prelates to start taking an introspective (thoughtful, reflective) look at the serious problems in society, most especially the evangelistic challenge to go out into the highways, hedges and hideouts and compel the wanderer to come in.