Situated on the southern shore of the hump of West Africa, Liberia struggles to free itself of a conflict mentality developed after 14 years of civil war. Most of the independent Baptist churches in Liberia trace their roots to the work of Baptist Mid-Missions missionaries. The years of war beginning in 1989 dismantled the large church association, which they called GARBC Liberia, as churches were destroyed and congregations scattered. Other church associations organized in various counties and developed ministries across central Liberia. Today many small churches dot the landscape of central Liberia, mostly of the prosperity gospel and Pentecostal flavor. Large areas of the country are still unevangelized, particularly Lofa County in the northwest.
Fundamental Baptists continue to faithfully preach the gospel, plant churches, and reach out to poverty-stricken and disenfranchised people. Praise God for their commitment to the truth and their sacrifices to preach Jesus Christ to people who are desperate for hope.
A Packed Conference
Chris and Deb Hindal arrived in Monrovia on April 14 to minister at an Easter conference sponsored by the African Fundamental Baptist Mission. On the 16th they made the grueling trip to Gbarnga. Normally a four-hour trip on terrible roads under construction, the journey took 10 hours due to two flat tires and mechanical complications. That same evening Chris opened the conference with a message on the devastation of sin. Each evening’s message that week built toward an Easter-morning sermon on the proofs of the Resurrection. During the week, Chris and Deb taught morning classes to the men and women respectively. Chris also preached a morning series on the life evidences of the “new creature.” The general secretary of the AFBM reported that 357 delegates registered, 39 professed faith in Christ, and two rededicated their lives to the Lord. At the close of each message, others made appropriate decisions.
In the Boondocks
On the Monday following Easter, Chris and Deb bumped along the trail, crossing the log bridge to visit the Mafla town. There they visited the site of a six-classroom school being built with funds from the 2013 VBS missions project recommended by Regular Baptist Press in conjunction with GARBC International Ministries. The elementary school students currently meet in huts. The new building will attract families from the surrounding villages as well as enable the school to expand to sixth grade. The school principal, George Sake, also pastors the village’s Baptist church, which is a part of the AFBM. Praise God for the potential of reaching many children and families with the gospel in this remote African village in Bong County.
That same day, the Hindals were taken to the village of Galai, where Pastor Philemon and Pastor George combine efforts to plant a new church. About 25 people gathered under a thatched roof to be encouraged by the visitors. Chris spoke to them on the greatness of God from Isaiah 40. Chris later commented, “The sweltering heat and dusty, bumpy roads sap the energy, but the eagerness of the people inspire our efforts.”
A Warm Liberian Transfer
The African tradition of taking care of guests includes a formal transfer from one host to the next, with all parties present. Even if it means that the present host has to remain another day, he will do it to make sure the guests are properly handled. The Hindals were formally transferred to Pastor John Tuankan, the new president of the Soul Winning Baptist Conference on Tuesday morning; and the Hindals made their way to a meeting of 175 people representing the SWBC churches. Chris brought this group a message. They had come together as a recently partnered association in the IPFBM simply to welcome the visitors from America. Later in the morning, Chris and Deb met with the association leaders to counsel them concerning the nature of the IPFBM and the need to find grounds for reconciliation and cooperation with other independent Baptist associations in Liberia.
Wednesday morning another transfer took place as the Hindals were placed in the care of Pastor Peter Gebeor, the general secretary of the GARBC Liberia. This organization became inactive during the war and feels the need to revive its efforts to unite all the associations under its umbrella to give the independent Baptist churches a united testimony for Christ and to strengthen the defense against the growth of Islam. Chris also explained to this group the nature of the IPFBM, its purposes, and how they might go about reviving GARBC Liberia if the Lord continues to direct them. The next morning Chris met with this small group again and brought them a challenge about being the light of the gospel in the surrounding darkness. The return to Monrovia that afternoon, though uneventful, was still a five-hour, bone-jarring experience in the heat.
Friday morning Chris and Deb visited the church building site of Victory Baptist Church, pastored by David Quinah. Government plans forced the church to move, but this has provided incentive to expand the ministry into a growing part of the city outskirts. The building’s foundation and side walls are up, but about $20,000 is needed to complete the project.
Calvary Baptist Church, Monrovia
Organized by Baptist Mid-Missions missionaries in 1962, Calvary Baptist Church stands as the oldest fundamental Baptist church in the capital city of Monrovia. Today Calvary is pastored by Larque Vaye, who grew up in the church and served as a deacon, director of evangelism, and assistant pastor before becoming senior pastor 12 years ago. Calvary Baptist has had a part in planting churches all around Monrovia.
Pastor Vaye took Chris and Deb to visit Calvary Baptist Christian School, which has 800 students. Each student pays $200 annual tuition. Pastor Vaye said, “We need to purchase apparatus for our science laboratory. The total cost is estimated at $3,000. Would you pray that God will use someone to provide this need?”
Sunday morning Chris and Deb ministered at Calvary Baptist. The church maintains an active ministry schedule despite the challenges of 80 percent unemployment. Chris’s Sunday morning message was also aired on Calvary’s regular Sunday evening radio broadcast.
Calvary Baptist Church associates with the Independent Baptist Fellowship Annual Conference which includes 27 churches in Monrovia. This fellowship of 27 churches is presently adopting a constitution to organize itself as an association. Chris met with the leadership to explain the nature and purpose of the International Partnership of Fundamental Baptist Ministries. They expressed interest in applying for partnership.
Despite 14 years of devastating civil war, the independent Baptist churches in Liberia continue to preach, pray, and plug away. They deserve our prayers and encouragement.