What receiving the Bible in your native tongue for the first time looks like.

Rejoice with me and be greatly encouraged (and deeply convicted) by watching this video of the Kimyal tribe receiving the New Testament in their language for the first time on March 16, 2010.

Quote from the video:

“We [in the West] have no idea. We have had the Word of God for so long. We have taken it for granted. We have resources, we have translations . . . and we don’t cherish it. We don’t realize what a precious gift we have and hold in our hands.”

Find out more about the Kimyal tribe of Indonesia here.

HT: The Gospel Coalition

Get good books into the hands of African pastors.

Want to help get doctrinally sound theology books into the hands of pastors in Africa? Here are two ways:

1). There’s the Portuguese Adopt a Pastor program for Mozambique, Africa (along with video introduction) here.

2). You can also support indigenous pastors in Liberia, Africa with books and other resources and learn more about the work of Village Church Planters by visiting their website here.

Not only are they desperate for help in sound doctrinal teaching, and not only are they in a spiritual battle against native pagan religions and the spread of Islam, but they also have the proliferation of cults to tend with (for more on cults in Africa see the Africa Center for Apologetics Research). These pastors are poor and can’t afford to attend the conferences that pastors in the West attend, nor can they afford to purchase the theological books that line our bookshelves and that we take for granted.

Will you consider helping the saints today?

Scam Into Blessing – Part 8

Before retiring for the evening, another Liberian pastor whom I had met that week invited me to preach for the congregation known as Highland Hills Baptist Church. Pastor Philemon Gwelikporluhson, who has become a very dear friend, was the pastor and also the man whom God had used to start this little work in an outlying area of Monrovia.

Pastor Philemon and his dear wife, Dylin, have six beautiful girls ages 6-19. At the time of my visit, they had been living in a small house with other relatives. All 8 of them lived cramped in one single room that was about the size of one average American bedroom. For many years, Philemon has been involved in the work of church planting and has successfully (to the glory of God) been able to establish four previous works that are now being pastored by local men whom he has tried diligently to train.

Due to his faithful work in planting churches and trying to train disciples to the best of his ability, his sole means of income was what the church could offer or what he was able to receive from sources outside of Liberia. Income from the church might amount to $5 or $10 in a week, or others might bring them some food as their offering to the Lord.

Obviously, he was in no position to be able to obtain even a small home. While it is part of a different story, we are thankful that through the kind and generous offerings of God’s people in different parts of the world (USA, the UK, and Australia), they now have their own little two-bedroom home they are renting. Praise the Lord!

The next morning was beautiful and another early rising. Liberians tend to go to bed between 10-11pm and are up around 4:30-5:00 each morning. However, during the hottest part of the day, many take a rest and try to limit their activities so as to remain a little cooler. Walking outside, I sat down on Pastor Togba’s small porch and watched Liberians walking back and forth on the main road. Most of them would not be in church worshiping the Lord who made them, and would certainly not be giving the honor and glory to Him for His wonderful works among the children of men.

Continue reading

Scam Into Blessing – Part 3

Ok, here it is for those who could not wait for Wednesday, April 21! LOL

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With the inability to adjust to the heat, and adding more mosquitoes to the local death toll, I finally got up around 5:30am and prepared for the day. Walking across a floor that I considered to be far from clean, I headed to the shower, it reminded me of something you might find in a bad movie where you are wondering whether you might share the facility with more bugs, scorpions, or even a snake crawling up the drain! The cold water (all that was available) drove most thoughts out of my brain, but I can assure you I kept my glasses on in order to keep an eye on the drainpipe.

After getting dressed and reading some Scripture, I asked the Lord to give me strength for the day and for wisdom to figure out what was going on with the “three pastors” I had met the night previous. I failed to mention that the night before, the “three pastors” had left an older man at the house and told me that he was there for my protection and would also help me if I needed help. His name was Moses and they told me that he was a deacon at a church belonging to one of the “three pastors”. Walking into the house kitchen the next morning, this man was sitting at the table. I tried to get some information out of him, but he did not appear very talkative at that moment.

Walking outside to greet the humid, tropical morning, my “guard” followed a few steps behind me. As I watched the mist rise from the ground like smoke, I noticed my “guard” was watching me. As I proceeded down the path towards the Atlantic Ocean, the mist and sound of the crashing waves added to my enjoyment of seeing my very first banana and coconut trees. Those few moments felt like I was in a paradise, if only somebody could turn the heat down a little bit.

Going back into the house around 7:30am, I felt I was prepared for the “three pastors” to arrive at 9:00am. The son of the president of the Baptist college who now owned the property had provided me with a cell phone. This had allowed me to call my wife in England and let her know to pray. While assuring her I was fine, I was wondering how true this might be in a country that had just come out of a brutal civil war. This was particularly the case considering how the “three pastors” had behaved the night before. Before the men arrived, I called the ABWE missionary, Steve Trexler, and shared what had happened the night before. He told me not to go anywhere with the men, but that he and Pastor Togba would be there as quickly as possible. Now along with the presence of my “guard”, I was REALLY getting worried.

9:00am – The “three pastors” arrived at the same time as Bro. Trexler and Pastor Togba. We sat around a large table and the discussions began. The “three pastors” assured me that they were glad to have me visit their country and apologized for the misunderstanding the night before. They told me they were embarrassed because they were not able to provide what had been promised to me, and I began to wonder how I was just going to pay for my stay in the guesthouse.

I continued by asking the men to introduce themselves again now that I was awake. One of the pastors introduced himself as Pastor S__________ and another red flag went off. I had seen a small picture of this particular pastor and the two definitely were not the same person. A few more comments between us and I stated I wanted to get on with the meeting, but wanted to make sure I had the names correct. Going down the line, I called them each by the name they had given me until I got to the “pastor” sitting to my right.

I asked, “And you are, Pastor S______? Is that correct?” This man hung his head and over in the corner of the room, my “guard” started shaking his graying head and then put his face in his huge hands. At that moment, it dawned me that something bigger was going on. Proceeding with the questioning, I clarified that the pastor in question was not Pastor S______, and wanted to know where he was. The men told me they only wrote back and forth with him and that Pastor S______ had not been in Liberia for a few years! Talk about the plot thickening!

Silence reigned and all you could hear across the veranda was the crashing of the ocean waves. All three of the “pastors” refused to meet my eyes for several minutes until one of them, whom I would view as the ringleader finally looked up and spoke.

“Pastor, we have been very bad. We have lied to you and that is not right. We are not who we claimed to be. You have caught us and we are so ashamed.”

The ringleader continued by pulling out copies of my emails sent and began to share the reason for my being in Liberia. The first emails were just as I remembered them, but then more issues began to arise. What they were telling me and even reading off of the emails they had printed did not sound even close to what I had sent in those emails. The ringleader informed all present that I had promised to bring $7,000 (seven thousand US dollars) in cash to pay for Bibles, for the pastor’s conference and even to pay for the rental of the stadium where the crusade was to take place.

The “pastor” impersonating Pastor S_______ then produced a poster they had printed which were ready to post all over the city of Liberia. He then said, “We expect 10,000+ in attendance at the faith healing crusade!” Sure enough, there was my picture alongside a picture of one of the three pastors. In big, bold letters, “FAITH HEALING CRUSADE! – Bring your sick so the pastor from England can lay hands on you for a miracle!”

If I would have had false teeth, I would have dropped them. Looking at the ABWE missionary and Pastor Togba who really knew nothing about me, I could tell they were probably wondering what they might have gotten themselves into. I excused myself from the table and asked these two godly men if they would join me for a quick walk towards the beach. They did and I shared with them the truth of what had occurred and produced my own emails which I had printed off before leaving England. They were shocked.

We went back in and took our places at the table. Mincing no words, I called the “three pastors” to account for their lies and told them I could prove that I had not written the emails they had in their possession. Asking for the copies they held, I pulled mine out of my binder and let all present see the differences. Mine had no spelling mistakes whereas their copies did. Their copies were obviously a cut and paste job written with the intent of pulling off a huge scam. To cap it off, I almost laughed when I looked at the last page of emails and pointed out to the men that after having my name for almost 40 years that I should know how to spell it correctly! The bottom line was that the man, Pastor S_____, had duped both myself and these simple, poor Liberian pastors.

I was quite upset and was wishing for more than once a week flights out of Liberia. On a different continent than my family and surrounded by nothing familiar, I was out of words in regards to explaining the situation. Silence reigned again, but then a thought flashed into my mind. I was here to share the truth of God’s Word, I would begin at the kitchen table.

The “three pastors” shared their “testimony” at my request when I finally spoke again, and it was obvious that all three of them were on their way to a Christ-less eternity. All three spoke of how they were working towards the goal of heaven. I shared the truth of Scripture and began with the law. They had broken God’s law and the penalty was death. I concluded by telling them that while they had lied, their rejection of Jesus Christ was what would condemn them to hell. Standing I told them I would have nothing to do with their lies and they were free to go.

Pastor Togba graciously extended an invitation to stay in his home on the other side of Monrovia and I accepted with a glad heart. The “three pastors” had asked if we would reconsider at least conducting the pastor’s conference. With Pastor Togba’s approval, I agreed to meet with them at his house in two days and he provided directions to his home.

As I walked back to my bedroom, I wondered what the next days and weeks would hold for it certainly did not match with what I had planned. Bro. Trexler and Pastor Togba were waiting for me outside while I packed my bags. There was a knock on my door and my “guard” Moses and his “pastor” (the one who had pretended to be Pastor S_____) were standing with heads bowed. Moses had tears streaming down his weathered face.

“We have brought shame upon ourselves, our church, and our country,” they began. “We have come to seek your forgiveness and ask you to pray that God will forgive us.” As I watched these two men humble themselves, I thought of what the Lord had done in forgiving me. The least I could do was to extend forgiveness to these two Liberians and pray that they would one day find rejoicing by placing their faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Picking up my bags, I headed for the door and said good-bye to the two men as I reminded them that I would see them again in two days with my answer in regards to the Pastor’s Conference. The older man, Moses (my guard) was still weeping as he thanked me for forgiving them and it was at that moment that the Lord broke something down in me and dropping my bags, I walked over to him and putting my arms around him, I assured him that he was forgiven and that it was now in the past. Picking my bags back up, I walked out of the mission house knowing and believing that God was sovereign in all things and there was a reason why He wanted me in Liberia. Maybe I had just started to see a taste of something special.

(…to be continued…) – I will post the next installment on Wednesday, April 21!

Scam Into Blessing – Part 2

Prior to my departure for Liberia, my parents were obviously concerned about the possibility of their son being in West Africa, and had made contact on my behalf with ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelization). The director passed on the details of a native Liberian, Pastor James Togba. Pastor Togba is the pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church and is one of the leaders with AFBM (African Fundamental Baptist Mission). AFBM is a loose organization of about 20 churches who hold to the baptistic faith and doctrine. I had made contact with Pastor Togba just briefly by email and informed me I was headed to his country. He invited me to visit them if I had the opportunity to do so.

Bro. Steve Trexler had come with Pastor Togba to help welcome me to Liberia and to see if there was anything that I might need assistance with. Their help was to become invaluable and quicker than any of us were anticipating.

Trying to adjust my eyes to the darkness with Bro. Trexler at my side, I managed to see a group of Liberians holding a large sign. There were about 12-15 in the group and they warmly welcomed me. Introductions were made, although I would not remember but a handful of the names later. There was a lot of chatter in Kpelle by the group and I merely stood in place trying to assimilate all the strange smells and sounds surrounding me. Pastor Togba came up to me and indicated that something was not quite right, but that he and Bro. Trexler would be taking me along with several of the group into Monrovia and the rest would follow in a couple of taxis.

Putting my luggage in the back of Bro. Trexler’s jeep, they escorted me to a place of honor – the front passenger seat. Before the door could be closed, two different members of the welcoming group tried to get me to scoot over enough for them to sit beside me on the SINGLE seat. Pastor Togba said something in Kpelle and they went and climbed in the back and somebody shut my door. By the time we were headed away from the airport, there were about 9 people sitting in a 5 seat vehicle! Welcome to Liberia! I would later learn that this was normal to squeeze as many people as possible into one vehicle thus making the trip worthwhile. There was more than once I rode in a yellow taxi (think old Toyota Camry) with the driver and at least two others in the front and 5 of us in the back!

The first sight I remember was very tall 8-12 foot high mounds on the sides of the road as we sought to avoid running over people walking down the middle and sides of the main highway headed in towards Monrovia. After about 40 minute hair-raising drive, I was NO LONGER tired but very wide awake as we pulled up to a compound with barbed wire and a gatehouse. Bro. Trexler informed me that this was formerly the Southern Baptist compound where they had a university and missionaries could stay here as they transitted the country and/or continent.

Now, before I continue, the reader should be aware that I was told by the man who was writing me in England that they would cover my hotel stay and a rental car during my stay. It never dawned on me until later that rental cars were not available at that time. Unpacking my bags, one of the young men who lived at the compound came up and asked me to go with him to settle the bill. It was at that moment that I began to feel something was starting to smell fishy about this operation.

I walked through the dark following very closely to my guide and wondered whether snakes slept at night in that part of Africa. I knew the mosquitoes sure didn’t for I had already left a trail of the depraved insects all the way from the airport. We walked into a little hut with a grass thatched roof and they shut the door behind me and invited me to sit on one of only two chairs in the room. It almost felt like something out of a movie where the good guy is about to get whooped up on. There was only a single small lamp casting eerie shadows on the walls as one of the men standing translated the words of the guy seated at a creaky wooden desk on the other chair.

I was politely informed that for my stay of the next two weeks, I owed them $700! I could not have been anymore surprised than if a snake had chosen that moment to crawl across my shoes. The cost per night was $50 (US Dollars) to stay at the compound. Wow! Very politely, I responded that the group I had come to visit had told me that they were covering the costs of my hotel and they would need to speak to Rev. S___________ as he had already made the arrangements and even told me that the bill had been paid the week before I arrived.

More chatter, and then the translator informed me that there was no such person who had come to see them. In fact, they had only just received word of my coming about 2-3 hours before my arrival into the country. It is now about 10:30pm and I am exhausted. My mind is not working straight, but the welcoming party and some of the names begin to float through my fuddled thoughts. Red flags and sirens are going off but I am not putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

Wanting to get to sleep, I went ahead and paid the man for two nights taking a chunk out of the money I had brought for spending and an offering for the work. I walked back to the guest house (again following closely to my guide and followed closely by the cousins of the critters I had killed on the way over to the hut who were out for revenge).

Sitting down with the men, I was finally able to discern that these men had not paid the bill and seemed to know nothing about the arrangements made by Rev. S_________. This was not making sense because I thought I was speaking with Rev. S__________, one of three who had introduced themselves to me at the airport as the pastors I had come to meet and conduct meetings with.

Not getting anywhere in the conversation, they finally left about 11:30pm after talking in circles. My guide from earlier walked back in about 10 minutes later and said the three pastors did not have any money to pay for a taxi ride home, could I provide them with some US Dollars for a taxi?? What was going on??!! I figured it would wait until morning as I gave a few dollars to the guide and headed to bed enjoying the air conditioner in my room.

Two hours later, the air conditioner and the fan suddenly went quiet waking me from a fairly deep sleep. Wondering what was going on, I finally remembered the guide had mentioned that the generator for the electricity was shut down every night about 2:30am and stayed off until the next day. The room got warm very quickly, and it was not just my rising body temperature that had feelings of discomfort. The next morning was going to prove interesting though and would reveal the truth of my trip.

(…to be continued…)

NOTE: Part 3 will be on-line Wednesday, April 21.

Letter of thanks from Pastor Philemon

To all of our friends in God’s vineyard,

We greet you from the fields white unto harvest.  It is from Liberia we write where we are working to make sure that the work left with us is done properly till He come.  We send our hello.

I am Pastor Philemon Gwelikporlusohn, a Liberian serving in Liberia trying to accomplish the GREAT COMMISSON of our Lord. My family and I are involve with Church planting ministry.  We love the Lord and the job He give us. pray for us that we continue till Christ.

Philemon and family

I am a graduate of the Maranatha Bible Collage, Accra Ghana.  I am married to a young lady called Dylin for almost 20 years.  God has blessed our union with 6 girls.  She also serves as the foster mother of 3 other children who has been unfortunate due to the civil crises in our country.

We are right now pastoring a Church near Monrovia, it is called Highland Hills Baptist Church.  This is our fifth churchplant in Liberia.  The Lord is adding to the Church numerically, and we are trusting the Lord for spiritual growth and to work in our lives.  Discipleship is our focus.  Please pray with us as we plan for other areas which keep coming before our hearts and minds in order to start new mission stations.  We have recently started a new mission station at the St John, Bong Mine.  As the vision continues to grow, I will keep reminding you for more prayers.

We are very thankful to you for your prayers and monetary gifts to us in times like this especially after our house was robbed earlier this month.

Your gifts to us will continue to speak wherever I preach the good news in Liberia and beyond.  For your reminder, the Lord is not unjust that He cannot pay you for all you have and is doing because of Him.

Brothers, we greatly appreciate your gifts, thank you for remembering us.  Our fellow Christians are in our prayers from now on till we see our Christ come.

In His service,

Pastor Philemon