David Strope, James Kester, Josh Robinson, and Bill Brittain minister in Liberia.

Regular Baptist International is forging new and stronger relationships with ministries in Liberia.

Last month David Strope, interim national representative of the GARBC, traveled with a team to Monrovia, Liberia.

Joining him were James Kester, pastor of Sahuaro Baptist Church, Tucson, Arizona, and member of the GARBC Council of 18; Josh Robinson, pastor of Altoona (Iowa) Regular Baptist Church; and Bill and Kathy Brittain, missionaries with ABWE.

The focus of their trip was a pastors’ seminar and Bible conference hosted by Liberian pastors—including Philemon Gwelikporlusohn, president of the African Fundamental Baptist Mission and pastor of Highland Hills Baptist Church in Monrovia, and James Togba, pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church in Monrovia.

But first the team spent three days, February 12–14, up-country in Gbarnga. They explored an open-air market (a labyrinth of stalls in the stifling heat, David says), stopped to see an early mission station that Baptist Mid-Missions constructed in that region, and visited local churches and their pastors (“what a joy,” David says).

David Strope, Josh Robinson, and James Kester visit Kornee Independent Baptist Church in a Liberian village.

At one of the churches, Kornee Independent Baptist Church, the team delivered a wheelchair to a disabled mother and toured the church’s remote village.

The extreme poverty the team saw was humbling, David says. But the team also “saw the work God has done through generations in building His church in Liberia.”

Liberia has been torn by civil war and tribal conflict that lasted from 1989 to 2003. Many churches were nearly put out of existence, but the Body of Christ now thrives. “While poverty is overwhelming, believers’ joy that God provides is evident,” David says.

February 15–17, the team led a pastors’ training seminar for more than 100 pastors, evangelists, and deacons. Bethlehem Baptist Church in Monrovia—host of the seminar—had hoped for good attendance, and the number of attendees surpassed the organizers’ expectations.

James Kester leads a pastors’ seminar at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Monrovia, Liberia.

David, James Kester, and Josh Robinson handled the teaching responsibility. Addressing topics like local church polity, ordinances, theology, and Baptist distinctives, they instructed many who have no theological training and reminded those with training of Scripture’s truths.

Sprinkled throughout the seminar were Q & A sessions. Primary among the many questions were those dealing with discipleship for new believers, how soon to baptize new believers, charismaticism, and the instruction in James 5 to anoint people with oil.

Those attending the seminar showed “gracious hospitality, teachable hearts, and enduring faith through such difficult times in their country,” David says.

On Sunday, February 18, David preached at Maranatha Baptist Church in Monrovia and attended a wedding at the church after the service. “And, my, what a wedding!” David says.

The team left the church about 2:30 p.m. and—enduring a traffic jam in the heat of the day—drove to Pastor Togba’s home for a meal (arriving dripping wet with sweat, David adds). By early evening, the team had returned to their lodging in Monrovia. “A great day but exhausting,” David says.

A Bible conference took place February 19–25. David, James, Josh, Bill, and Kathy spoke throughout. The conference theme was “Arise and Rebuild” from Nehemiah 2, ending with a compound theme: “Arise and Rebuild with Joy by Grace.”

Josh Robinson teaches men at the Bible conference in Liberia.

“Liberian time is very flexible,” David says. The preaching sessions of the conference lasted at least two hours but always started 30 to 60 minutes after their scheduled times. Those sessions included not only preaching but also testimonies, Bible recitation, singing by Liberian choirs, and many announcements and encouragements.

Each day of the conference also included two hours of prayer and then a Sunday School teaching time for men (meeting in a tarp-roof shelter), women (in the auditorium), and young adults (in a gazebo).

David also spent one afternoon answering questions and giving guidance as pastors seek to reform a Regular Baptist International partnering fellowship that became defunct due to civil war.

Kathy Brittain gathers with women at the Bible conference in Liberia.

Among the attendees at the conference and workshop was a pastor named George. David had the privilege of meeting him. George is 92, just a few months older than Regular Baptist Ministries, and is still pastoring. Most of the pastors David met are paid nothing for their ministries, “yet these pastors serve with diligence, joy, and fruitfulness,” he says.

The team’s ministry in Liberia concluded on Sunday, February 25, in the worship service of Bethlehem Baptist Church. David preached from Acts 4 on “God’s Great Church.”

David Strope meets Pastor George of Liberia.

“The team and I were thrilled and exhausted, encouraged and challenged by the Liberians’ sincere love of Christ and fidelity to the gospel in partnership with Regular Baptist International,” David says.

“My trip to Liberia is at least my 11th trip to international ministry fields,” David says. “Each occasion has brought me enrichment as I see God’s work not merely in my limited line of sight but around the world. The Liberian pastors and church members have much to teach North American pastors and church members.”