Liberia has a complex and painful history, including racism and colonialism. It endured terrible conflict from 1985-2005. But Praise God for the stability and peace of recent years. Hundreds of thousands of refugees returned, a new president came to power (the former leader was exiled), the country began to rebuild, and Christian ministry began to thrive once again. Liberia has an atmosphere of hope and progress, despite the obvious challenges which remain from the civil wars and the devastation and trauma they caused. Pray that Liberia might truly fulfil its name as a "land of freedom".
Rebuilding after two civil wars is Liberia's greatest challenge. The country was devastated and the people traumatized. War was a blight that also poisoned Sierra Leone and Guinea. Its roots fed on deep ethnic hatreds, greed and corruption, lust for power and Christians' failure to have a redemptive effect on society, all giving Satan opportunity.
The testimony and impact of the Church, compromised in the past, must be regained in power and purity. African traditional beliefs, tribal secret societies, fetishism and Freemasonry pervasively influenced every confession of Christianity in Liberia. These resulted in a lack of holiness and spiritual power and the enemy's insidious influence in the Church. Lack of compassion and care for the most vulnerable was another problem. However, the situation is thankfully changing and the Church is becoming an instrument of healing and restoration. Ministries (both African and foreign) are free to operate once again. Biblical teaching and modelling is happening, which will help excise what is rotten and build up that which is good. Pray for the Holy Spirit to purify, renew and build up the body of Christ.
The physical needs in Liberia are many - poverty, illiteracy and under-education, HIV/AIDS, public health and sanitation, agricultural reclamation, vocational training. Pray for wisdom and effectiveness for WVI, World Relief, Tearfund and many others seeking to enable Liberians to rebuild their society.
Islam's expansion was previously tied to specific regimes or tribes, but today it attempts to operate in broader and more sophisticated realms. The Muslim Mandingo first profited and then suffered badly from their ties to the Doe regime and their part in precipitating the war; ethno-religious violence between Mandingos and other groups still flares up. Up to 1,000 mosques were destroyed or damaged from 1989-2003. Today, foreign-given Islamic money is used to restore these mosques and to propagate Muslim beliefs; Liberia remains a major target for African Islam. Significant numbers of Muslims in Monrovia are non-Liberian. Pray for the winning of many Muslims to Christ.
Ministry to young people and children is possibly the most strategic issue in Liberia. Nearly half of the nation is under 15 years old. This whole generation has been deeply traumatized and robbed of its family life, its chance for normality, its very innocence. Over 50,000 children were killed in the fighting. Pray for churches and agencies seeking to minister in this difficult context. The restoration of normative family life is a crucial challenge for prayer. Cry out to God for:
- Former child soldiers. The 15,000 who survived have little chance of a normal life. Memories of the atrocities they witnessed, endured and committed haunt them. Over 30% have already attempted suicide at least once. As terrible as their past experiences were, the prejudice and stigma they face in post-war Liberia is nearly as bad.
- Thousands of fatherless children of West African peacekeeping forces. Thousands more children were fathered by rebels or soldiers; they will grow up never knowing their fathers. Most of these are children of rape. They face a stigma that will be hard to overcome, while usually living in abject poverty.
- Victims of sexual abuse. During the war, thousands of girls were taken by military troops or rebels to serve as maids, porters and, ultimately, as sexual slaves. Even in the post-war era, girls are being sexually used by peacekeepers, aid workers, teachers and others in positions of power. Pray that the initiatives taken by the government and NGOs to stop and to prevent such abuses would be effective.
- Students. Not a single Liberian child was spared from the disruption and destruction war visited upon the education system. Following years of civil unrest, a strong ministry has been reintroduced among university students, who are living out the gospel among their friends. The Liberia Fellowship of Evangelical Students (LIFES) has 4 groups with 250 students. Pray for the ministry of SU, YFC, YWAM and the churches to children and young people.
Specific peoples for prayer:
- Muslim groups. The Vai (CRWM) in the west, Gola in the north and the Manya/Mandingo (SIM) and Maninka of the northern borders are largely Muslim with few active Christians. Recent ministry by Muslim-background believers is seeing dramatic and increasing fruit, as are the holistic Community Health Evangelism programmes. Liberia is one of the few places where Muslims can be openly reached with the gospel and are responsive when they see it demonstrated.
- Peoples of animistic faith who live in the forests of the interior. Victorious gospel encounters must occur among the Mande peoples of the north (Kpelle, Mano, Dan, Loma, Gbandi), some south-central peoples from the Kru cluster (Western Krahn, Sapo, Southern Kissi) and the Southern Kissi in the far north. All have a small or even sizeable Christian minority, but the power of fetishism among these peoples is great. To see a harvest, spiritual warfare and breakthrough must occur, and they must continue if the church is to remain free from the spiritually polluting clutches of the enemy.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.