A combination gas station/convenience store may seem like an unlikely symbol of Liberia’s rise from disease and economic decay, but it has become just that.
After more than two decades of civil war and the brutal dictatorship of Charles Taylor, by 2003 the economic, transportation, and energy infrastructure of Liberia was virtually nonexistent. Even gas stations were non-existent. If you owned a car, or—more likely—a motorcycle, you bought gas from street vendors who sold the gas out of large jars. These vendors still dot the streets, with their “mayonnaise jars,” as they call them, though it’s not obvious what was originally in the glass containers. READ FULL ARTICLE »
For a Christian, this fact is a particularly frustrating one. Frustrating because, everywhere one turns in Liberia, there are signs of a Christian presence. Churches are everywhere. Posters and billboards announce Christian meetings and crusades. Christianity in one form or another has been a steady presence in Liberia since its founding in 1847 by former American slaves, some of whom brought Christianity with them. The first Baptist missionaries came to Liberia in the 1820s. Even today, the country debates whether officially to declare Liberia a “Christian nation.” In 2013, 700,000 Liberians signed a petition saying, “Yes.”
So it is fair to ask: If Christianity transforms not only individuals, but also communities and whole societies, why has Liberia not experienced that transformation? READ FULL ARTICLE »
(Note: I’m in Monrovia, Liberia, this week to see the work of Samaritan’s Purse on the one-year anniversary of the country being declared “Ebola-free.” I will be sending dispatches from Monrovia all this week.)
The first thing you notice about Liberia when you approach from the air is that it is dark.
When you approach most cities at night—especially cities as large as Monrovia, the country’s capital, with a population of 1.5 million people—you are suddenly surrounded by light. The lights of the city itself, of course, but also bright lights of the airport that signal that you have arrived.
It was perfect timing, really. Yesterday, Wesley Hill published a blog post titled "The Long Defeat, and the Long Loneliness," about his life as a celibate gay believer. It's a stark, utterly honest reminder of a question that we Christians often fear to ask: "Is God in Christ the sort of God who would ask His children to embrace a lifelong loneliness, a long defeat?"
JOSH: Biblical authority means having the Bible as the source for your worldview. It means trusting God to provide the answers to the big questions in life, such as where right and wrong comes from. In reality, the Bible is not really the source of morality itself. Nothing is right and wrong just because the Bible says it. For instance, lying is not wrong because the Bible says, “Thou shall not lie.” Rather, the Bible says we should not lie because God is truth (John 14:6). The character of God is the foundation of right from wrong, and this is revealed through the Scriptures. Consider another example: killing is not wrong just because the Bible says it. Rather, the Bibles says, “Thou shall not kill,” because God is life in his very character and we are made in His image.
While watching the Olympic Games in Rio a few days ago, I was shocked to learn that the young relative (30 years old) watching with me had never heard about the massacre of eleven Israeli athletes at the hands of a Palestinian terrorist group at the Munich Games in 1972. This happened 14 years before she was born, but still . . .
As a teenager, I was a member of a swim team, and was glued to the television set for each of Mark Spitz’s seven races. When the attack came, it received the first worldwide coverage of a terrorist event (in part, I expect, because the world’s news media was already gathered there). In the end, thanks both to lax security measures and a deeply flawed response to the attack, all 11 athletes were murdered.
When I looked up articles about the attacks to send to my relative, I was shocked again. Horrific details had been suppressed for decades. For instance, the hostages were tortured as well as murdered, and one was castrated; German officials had denied the existence of reports and photographs before finally releasing them, under pressure, decades later. READ FULL ARTICLE »