From Scam Into Blessing

Thirteen years ago this same week, I found myself on a plane headed for the first time to Liberia, West Africa. It was not what I expected, but the Lord brought glory to Himself through the lessons learned.

My second book has been years in the making, and with the professional editing care of my friend and sister in Christ, Sony Elise, it has finally come to fruition. Her editing service can be found, along with her online Christian bookstore at Sony Elise Christian Books. Thank you for the work you provided in helping make this book a reality.

My friend and brother in Christ, Manfred (Stuart Brogden) provided the Foreword to the book. Thank you for being willing to read the early manuscript months ago and taking the time to write a Christ-honoring introduction.

From Scam Into Blessing can be ordered in Kindle format or in paperback form from Amazon.

Book Description:

“The dictionary defines a scam as a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation. Internet technology has changed the world, but it can also change lives. Many believe they cannot live without access to the internet while others use the web as a way of making a living – fraudulently. Scam Into Blessing is the real account of the author’s first trip to Liberia, West Africa. What started as a scam turned into a blessing of epic proportions. Read the exciting adventures of how God sovereignly took what was meant for evil and changed it for good to His honor and glory.

Death of A Missionary

EDITED – If you are interested in helping this family, a GoFundMe account has been set up. Click HERE.

When we departed for Liberia, West Africa in 2012, we had an understanding of the risks. Our family was moving to an area that was 3-hour drive from any other missionaries. We would be living in an old mission house that sat on a hill that was considered to the “Devil’s Hill” due to wicked practices that took place before the first missionaries arrived. Nobody else would live on the hill and many of the villagers would avoid it, especially at night.

To make matters worse, we lived in the heart of what had been rebel-held territory during a very brutal 14-year civil war. The war claimed the lives of approximately 10% of the population of Liberia. The ramifications of that war, which ended around 2004, are still being felt today. Violence and vulgarity were constant reminders of what surrounded us, and ex-rebel soldiers surrounded us on every trip into town.

Our plan involved spending 4-5 years in the jungle training pastors and starting churches. However, that was cut short when one of my 6 year old daughters and I became deathly ill. There were nights that we thought she would not make it until morning and times like that really make you consider your priorities. A few days later, I spent my first night in a mission clinic being tended to in highly unsanitary conditions. As my fever and delirium grew, I would learn later that another pastor had entered the clinic the same day with the same symptoms. Three days later his wife and family buried him.

Less than three months later, I was diagnosed a second time with a completely different strain of both typhoid and malaria. Much of the time is but a dark cloud over my mind, but I remember the times of pain. The chief physician at the Firestone Plantation hospital informed me that my immune system was shot and I needed to get out of the country. If I did not, my next time would probably be my last.

Heartbroken, we began to make the arrangements to return to the USA. I was leaving behind what I loved, but I still could not help but wonder why I had lived when others had died.

The following year, a severe epidemic of Ebola broke out in the area of villages where we lived and thousands died. During that epidemic, I lost some pastor friends and their wives to the disease.

Since then, I continue to keep my finger on the pulse of the missions world, and the news that I read yesterday brought some painful memories to my mind.

The day started with an email from one of the brothers I trained in Liberia. We had been praying for God’s will to be done in regards to the health of Pastor Harrison Margai. He was the pastor of a brand new church that had been planted in an unreached village. The email informed me that this man had closed his eyes in death and left a wife and children.

Later that day, I read the news of what took place with another missionary in Cameroon, West Africa.

Charles Wesco, a Baptist missionary from Indiana, had surrendered his life to serve the Lord. In particular, he and his wife believed they had been called to minister in the country of Cameroon. After raising funds, they departed just over 2 weeks ago and began the process of settling into their new home with their eight young children.

Yesterday, another missionary was taking this man into town for some supplies. A situation erupted between a separatist faction and Cameroonian soldiers. In the crossfire, a “stray” bullet crashed through a car window and entered the head of Charles Wesco.

In a matter of minutes, this man who loved the Lord went out into eternity. Immediately, the news erupted along with the comments. I read several that were hateful, but some extended sympathy. I finally had to stop as the comments began to infuriate me.

The bottom line is not that this man gave his life needlessly. The bottom line is that God is and always will be sovereign. For reasons that may never be understood, this brother in Christ never planted a church, nor saw a Bible Training institute started in Cameroon. This family is devastated as they face a new life. Soon, they will return back to the US and will try to pick up the pieces. Questions will be asked, and many will never be answered.

Today, many hearts are breaking and while I have connections with others who knew this family, I did not ever have the privilege of meeting them myself. However, I know that one day I will, but before that day comes, this brother has already gone to his reward. He was welcomed with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

We could ask, why, why, why, but it would do no good. There is nothing wrong with seeking the face of God and asking Him for understanding. Where we tend to go wrong though is when we want to question His sovereign purposes. We cannot find fault with the Almighty, but we can learn to trust in His grace and mercy.

In a village close to where we lived in England, there is a cemetery. In the cemetery, a tombstone tells the brief story of a young pastor who lost his infant son and his wife. In the tragedy, this man had inscribed the following words on the tombstone.

“We cannot Lord, Thy purpose see,
But all is well, that’s done by Thee.”

Through what is a tragedy to human eyes, we pray for strength and extreme comfort to be provided to this dear sister, their eight young children, and extended family, friends, and church members.

For those who know the Lord, the Bible is clear that when we become absent from this body, we are forever present with the Lord. The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians and told them to not only find comfort in these thoughts, but to comfort others as well.

May His will be done and may all find peace through this time of turmoil. Our prayers also go out for the people of Cameroon that they will one day learn of the Prince of Peace, who alone brings salvation.

Consistent Inconsistency – Part 4 – Christian Liberty

One of the principles in evangelical churches that is often taught is that of “Christian liberty.” This is a wonderful doctrine that should be known throughout the hearts and minds of all true believers.

It is unfortunate that the average church member will not find a middle ground in this area, nor will many pastors or elders. The usual suspects for why this is the case are 1) legalism, or 2) liberalism. Let me explain and then give a few examples.

The road of Christian liberty often splits. The first road is often considered the HIGH road, and it is walked by well meaning believers. They believe they have the right to define what Christian liberty. However, this is not where they stop. They also believe that they have the right and the God-given responsibility to determine what is right AND what is not right for other believers.

The second road too often leads down a path that leads to the attitude, “Don’t judge me. I can do anything I want to in Christ.” This path invariably will lead to liberalism and destroys the testimony of Jesus Christ.

As you read these thoughts, consider what DOES NOT define Christian liberty.

  1. Christian liberty is NOT the dictates of a pastor or an elder board. If a pastor is preaching or teaching principles for life as though they were solid doctrine, then you must beware. Teaching principles and practices as if they were the foundation stone of the apostles and prophets is the quickest road to legalism and a sure sign that you are attending a church governed by a dictator rather than a loving shepherd.
  2. Christian liberty is NOT the ability to demand other brothers and sisters agree with my stand on an issue that is NOT clearly defined in Scripture.

Two simple definitions as they pertain to Christian liberty –

  1. Legalism – Excessive adherence to the law that manifests itself by forcing others to obey what the Scriptures do not explicitly teach. Such a position is based on a worldview that is rules-centered rather than being Christ-centered.
  2. Liberalism – Excessive lifestyles that supposedly allow a Christian to live any way they wish to do so. This philosophy is defined and supported by a worldview that is man-centered rather than Christ-centered.

Both of these positions are wrong. I want to give a few examples after sharing this excellent excerpt from

“Question: “Christian liberty – what does the Bible say?”

Answer: Christian liberty is found in the Bible in several concepts. For example, liberty for the Christian can mean that he or she has been freed from the penalty of sin by faith in Jesus Christ (John 8:31-36Romans 6:23). Also, Christian liberty can refer to being freed from the power of sin in one’s life by daily faith in Jesus Christ as Lord of one’s character and conduct (Romans 6:5-6,14). In addition, Christian liberty can mean that Christians are freed from the Jewish Law of Moses in that the Law only “exposes” sin in one’s life but cannot “forgive” sin (Romans 3:20-22).

Finally, Christian liberty can mean that Christians are freed in respect to such activity that is not expressly forbidden in the Bible. Therefore one can feel free to engage in such activity as long as it doesn’t “stumble” or “offend” another Christian (Romans 14:12-16). Most of these activities revolve around social “do’s” and “don’ts, such as whether or not to wear certain kinds of clothes, make-up, jewelry, tattoos, piercings, and/or practicing certain things, such as smoking, social drinking, recreational gambling, dancing, or viewing movies or videos. As the passage in Romans 14 says, these things may not be strictly prohibited by God’s Word, but they can be bad for one’s spiritual growth or Christian testimony and can cause other Christians to stumble.

Furthermore, Christians who tend to vigorously promote such liberties can sometimes fall into a loose lifestyle of undisciplined living, while, on the other hand, Christians who tend to vigorously limit such liberties can sometimes fall into a legalistic lifestyle of being defined by what they are “against.” So, it is wise to seek God in prayer and His Word to determine whether or not a particular activity is actually forbidden in Scripture. If it is, it should be avoided. If it is not forbidden, then we should seek to determine how the activity reflects on our reputation as Christians and whether it will help us or hinder us in representing Jesus to unbelievers around us, whether it edifies them or not.

The ultimate goal for the Christian should be to glorify God, edify fellow believers, and have a good reputation before unbelievers (Psalm 19:14Romans 15:1-21 Peter 2:11-12). “For you brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). (emphasis mine)”

Here is the reality of life as a true believer. It is NOT easy being a Christian for the world clamors for our attention. The world demands that we look like them in every way, but they do not do this because they love God and His commands.

The world demands our undivided loyalty because they HATE Jesus Christ. When the world sees a true believer, it is like a massive thorn that has been jabbed under a person’s fingernail. The life of a true believer is called to bring conviction to the ungodly. We do not speak of being arrogant or haughty toward those who do not believe for we have nothing of which we can boast.

However, we have been chosen, by the Most High, with our calling being to be predestinated and conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Simply put, the world should be seeing Jesus Christ in us. He is the hope of glory.

Now, let us consider a few examples –

Ultimately, Christian liberty is the understanding that my liberty starts and stops with what is clearly defined in Scripture. If there is an explicit command for us to obey, we must obey. If there is an explicit principle for life, then we are called to follow the principle. If the principle governs the motives of our heart, but not our methods, then we are free in Christ to follow the choices before us.

However, that freedom stops at the end of your nose and mine. Christian liberty is not free to assault the choices other believers make. If you make a decision that does not affect me or cause me to stumble, then enjoy the freedoms you have in Christ.

We may look at some of these areas later in the series, but for now I will use a personal illustration. I do not partake regularly of any kind of alcohol, but I have in the past. We have used it to flavor meat while it was cooking. I have swallowed a lot of cough medicines that have alcohol as an ingredient. I do NOT believe that I am forever condemned for having done so.

On the other hand, I have NEVER been drunk or lost self-control for what I have taken has been in moderation. For this, I am thankful to the Lord. It does not make me a spiritual person for having not been drunk versus a brother or sister who has succumbed to drunkenness. If we are in Christ, we are BOTH forgiven.

If I invite a brother and his family to dine with our family and I know one of their family members have struggled with alcohol in the past, my Christian duty and responsibility will refrain from offering it to that person. My Christian liberty does NOT allow me to be a stumbling block to him or her while we are fellowshipping together. I am free to follow the dictates of the Holy Spirit in my life AS LONG as it does not cause another to fall into sin.

As I have stated previously, when I was growing up in various churches, we heard all manner of “sermons” about long hair on men, pants on women, the dangers of Christian contemporary music, going to movies, or drinking alcohol – just to name a few. While these messages may have been well meaning, they only served to bind brothers and sisters to a defined set of standards that were man-made, and not ones established by Scripture. More often than not, such “sermons” are the result of too little time studying the Word to understand what it means in its own context, but are the result of using Scripture to prove a point being made. Scriptures were either misquoted or misunderstood in order to put other believers under a bondage that nobody can obey.

While the areas of Christian liberty are myriad, here is another example. Many denominations demand women wear their hair up, or that men have to wear suit and tie to church in order to be of service, or that families have to uphold the same standards as the pastor and his family in their normal weekly lives.

When we served in Liberia, West Africa, we saw the futility of many Christians who felt as though they were bound to what they had been taught – by the western missionary from a western society trying to force a western perspective on people for whom Christ died.

Too many times, I have seen African churches singing western songs (most had no clue what the words meant) while sitting in a western style church setting and feeling inferior to others attending because they did not have the money to wear western style clothing.

Missionaries may mean well, but if the focus is on making those in foreign countries to look, smell, talk, and act just like us in church, then we have failed miserably in directing, teaching, and discipling those precious brothers and sisters to focus on Christ, and to focus on Him ALONE.

In the west, legalism has driven many from the protection of fellowships across this land and into the arms of those who demand liberalism be what defines the church. If you were to ask many who have gone to Bible college, what they remember about college life, many would have no hesitation to share all about the rules that they learned. They can probably remember the demerits they earned for breaking man-made rules, but few would probably begin by telling you how much closer they grew to Christ. What a sad commentary!

Pastors and teachers, we are called to be an example to the believers. We are called to be shepherds of the flock and protect those for whom Christ died. We are not called, nor do we have the right or the responsibility, to be dictators. We have no business setting standards or principles for life that are not found in the pages of Scripture.

Do NOT place yokes or chains of bondage on those who are in Christ. Romans 8:1 is clear, “Therefore, there is now NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Let us conclude with this –

What is the chief end of man?

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. This is where Christian liberty MUST begin AND end.

More thoughts to come —

Recalling Liberia

Long time readers will know that I have had a love for the people of Liberia for many years. In fact, I have been involved with Liberia longer than I have been writing for Defending Contending. The older I become, it seems the faster the years go.

Nine years ago, I was recovering from a debilitating illness while pastoring in England. I was contacted by a man who later proved to be a scammer. However, it was not until I had flown from England to the steaming jungles of West Africa that I realized that I was in a very dangerous situation. Still, the Lord showed His grace and love and protection. During that trip, I was brought to love these Africans who were, and still are, in need of a Savior.

Many of you also know that our family moved to Liberia in 2012 only to have to return six months later. It was supposed to be a permanent trip, but one of my daughters and I contracted a severe case of malaria. I actually contracted malaria and typhoid two different times in less than three months.

During the intervening years since our return, I often wonder what our lives would be like had we been able to remain. We could have been there during the outbreak of Ebola which claimed the lives of several thousand including some Christian brothers and sisters that we personally knew. We could have been there for the first baptisms that took place in the villages of Foloblai and Tamayta where we started two mission works. We could have been there when Cyrus Smith began his first work in the village of Dentaa. We could have been there when the first Biblical marriages took place. There are many things we could have seen and been involved with.

However, today the work that God graciously, and in His sovereignty, only allowed us to plant seeds for continues to flourish and grow without the white missionary. The Bible Institute of Church Ministries still continues to train jungle pastors to teach the people of their village churches. Baptisms continue to take place as testimony is shared of the saving grace of God. Lives are still being changed. Another church plant is getting ready to take place under the guidance of Cyrus Smith.

The short time in Liberia still makes a difference in our lives today. We are thankful for every experience — the dangers, the lack of food and provisions at times, the fellowship of fellow missionaries who had no idea what we had or didn’t have, the prayers of family and friends through the dark nights when death was so close at hand, the village chief (Cyrus Smith) who surrendered all and became my Timothy, but most of all, the privilege of having served the Lord in a country where so many still need the Lord.

My prayer is that you will enjoy these pictures. They are not the best quality, but they represent a work that grows despite all the opposition. They represent part of my heart, but more importantly, these pictures show a Church and Bible Institute growing to the glory of God.

Passing the Baton – The Jungle Missionary

Dear DefCon Friends,

First, thank you ever so much for your prayers and all the letters of encouragement we have received in light of our revised plans due to my on-going health issues. This has been a very hard trial, and although it is not yet over, we continue to trust our Sovereign Lord that His purposes are always right for His children.

Second, I would like the majority of this email update to focus on what has transpired recently in the two villages where we have been able to start two new mission works a few months ago.

The three main men I have been training came to visit me this last week. It was a wonderful time focused on the Lord Jesus Christ and our hope for the future being in the One Who holds tomorrow in His hands. While they are all sorely disappointed that we have to leave already, they have risen well to the challenges of moving forward.

I shared with them about the Olympic Games and one of the races that always amazes me – the men’s 4×100 relay race, where they have to pass the baton from one to the next. The first man, the lead, starts and runs his hardest, at a certain point, the second man begins his run and without looking back has to trust that the man behind him will accurately place the baton in his hands and continue running to where the third man waits, then to the 4th man, who takes the baton and runs for all he is worth to reach the finish line. The question I posed to them was this, “Who won the race?” They thought about this for a few moments and then Augustus replied, “ALL of them won for they could not have completed the race if each had not done their part!”

This is the way I feel. While I have not been able to be a marathon runner here, I believe I have been faithful to run my part so far of the 4×100 race. I have had to pass the baton to these men who are continuing to run the race, even though they will not see me for awhile, if ever again. In the end though, the race and the subsequent victory is not really ours, but the Lord’s. These men may not even see the finish line, but may have to pass the baton to another to keep running with patience.

In light of these and other comments, they came to me after a time of prayer and shared with me plans they have been making. It is so encouraging to know that the training continues and they are willing to take baby steps. You want to be there, to hold their hands, and to continue picking them up, but sometimes you just have to let go and watch God do His perfect work in their hearts and minds. Their plan, unbeknownst to me til this last week is for Cyrus (the 3rd man I have been training) to move to another nearby village that needs its very first Bible-believing work called Beletana. He has a sister who owns a home there that he and his family are going to be able to live in and he is going to start in September the process of evangelizing in this village and another called Danda. As things progress, he will begin a Bible study which will essentially be a mission work out of the works in Foloblai and Tamayta!!

Regarding the works in Foloblai and Tamayta, the two leaders, Augustus and George indicated that as they are so close (about 30-35 minutes walking time), they are going to pose to the people that they join forces in the work until they are large enough to have a separate work in both villages! I encouraged them in this decision and we spent time in prayer that the Lord would continue to grant them wisdom. This will allow them to work more closely together and will be able to serve all the people hand-in-hand. It will provide some stability, they can encourage each other, help to hold each other accountable, etc. Next month by the end of September, they will be moving their families out of their home village into these new ones. Please pray with us that they will be able to work through the transition smoothly. The works are moving steadily along but not without difficulties. These two village works are not liked by the liberal establishment there and those who think they can call themselves Christian yet live a debauched and debased life the rest of the week. Drunkenness and sexual activities are very much commonplace. Pray that these new Christians will have courage to stay away from the things which strive daily to capture their attention.

Just as with the 4×100 relay race, the first man in line cannot worry about doing the job of the next men in line, but can only focus on his own part. The reality is that I am not really the lead man though, for before I came, there were others who paved the way. You have each held the ropes and have been running your part of the relay. Long after we are gone, there will be others who will be called to run the race that is set before us. May we each though keep looking to the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross.

Thank you again. It seems like a small thing to say, but we could not have made it without your prayers, and these men will not be able to make it without more prayer. We will be continuing to provide some financial support for them to help with certain aspects of living expenses as the Lord provides, until the works are able to sustain themselves.

My wife and I have spent the last 1 1/2 years including our pre-field ministry learning to live by faith and trusting the Lord will provide without posting our actual financial needs. We believe the Lord has honored our commitment to Him through this and has helped us to show by example to these pastors-in-training that God can, does, and will provide. As David said, he has never seen the righteous forsaken or their seed begging bread. Truly, the Lord is sovereign even when His ways and purposes are unknown. He makes no mistakes.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. We will be departing from Liberia on Sunday, September 9, back to the USA where we will be spending the next 2-3 months just trying to recuperate and allow my body to heal. I am still fighting the effects of having had two very serious cases of typhoid and malaria (two times each) that have hit me over the last two months. Unfortunately, the typhoid is not responding well to the heavy antibiotics that I have been on for the entire two months. We appreciate your continued prayers for the work here as well as whatever direction the Lord has for us.

Reluctantly Passing the Baton,

Mark – The Jungle Missionary

Scam Into Blessing – Part 20 – The Conclusion

Sitting on the porch after lunch, I spent time revisiting the events of the previous two weeks. 35 souls in the Pastors’ Conference with a handful more at the college and Prince that morning, I considered the work of God in the heart of man. While I was not able to save a single soul, it was humbling to recognize once again that salvation is a work that is all of God. Man has absolutely nothing to do with the process for the Bible makes it clear that man cannot even come to God because he is dead in trespasses and sins.

I considered those who had placed their faith in Christ and wondered what kind of fruit they would be producing. If God had set His love and His mark upon them, then the change would be immediate for they were new creations in Christ Jesus. It was also true that those whom the Father calls to be a part of the Bride would become more and more conformed to the image of His Beloved Son.

One thing I knew for sure and that was those who had heard the gospel had no further excuse. They had heard the truth. Paul tells us in Romans 10, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” My trip had certainly not been in vain, and I believe that it had brought glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

However, now that the trip was at an end, I wondered what the future would hold. This was true not just for me, but also for those who would have to remain in Liberia. Biblical exposition and biblical training of leaders is sadly lacking. Another aspect that is missing is a solid foundation of doctrine and principles that are guided not by tradition, but by Scripture. There is a great need for workers who are willing to work alongside as equals throughout places like Liberia and all of West Africa. The goal should be to teach them how to do the work and allow them as nationals to lead their own people. If war ever breaks out again, missionaries will have to leave the country and I fear many national pastors would be unprepared once again to face the trials.

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Scam Into Blessing – Part 19

Early on Saturday morning, a crowd began to gather just outside of Pastor Togba’s property. Some music was being played and I recognized a couple of what sounded like gospel tunes. It was not long before a crowd gathered to listen to something being said over a loudspeaker. I had been watching people stop to listen and I counted well over 200 before I stopped. With my curiosity getting the better of me, I decided to walk a little closer and see what was going on.

A man and his female were working up the crowd in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. After a number of songs and with absolutely no Bible in sight, the man began to speak to the crowds. Just like the huckster I had heard in the marketplace shortly after I arrived, this fellow seemed to have been trained in the same school of “How to Con People using God’s Name in Vain!”

Passing a bucket around, he cajoled the listeners by telling them that they were in great need of having a blessing from God. He continued by stating that they would always remain poor unless they honored God’s preacher first, he continued with his harangue by starting with an offer of $100 blessings. When that didn’t work, he worked his way down to $50, $20, $10, and finally $5 before resorting to pleading for Liberian dollars. However, he did warn the people that Liberian dollar blessings were not as powerful as blessings which come from giving US dollar bills.

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Scam Into Blessing – Part 18

Some of the women seemed to be upset, and I could not begin to imagine what the church leaders were thinking about what they had overheard. Twenty pairs of eyes followed me as I walked through their midst and off the veranda into the dusty African evening.

Walking along the edge of Pastor Togba’s property, I noticed that it was not five minutes before Mr. Maryland walked out the door with all his bags. They were loaded into the vehicle in almost complete silence and without a word of thanks to Pastor Togba, he and his friend pulled out of the driveway and headed in towards town.

The members of the little congregation remained on the veranda and at the front of the house as I considered what I should do next. More appropriately, I considered how I needed to handle what I believed was right to do in this particular situation. Walking back up to the porch, I hesitantly asked them to gather together.

Me: “First, I want to apologize for what you heard. It was not my intention for anybody to overhear my private conversation with Mr. Maryland. While I do not believe that I should apologize for what I said, I do apologize for giving offense in regards to how I spoke to your guest. Please forgive me for I realize that my approach was not the best and my desire should remain to be more like Christ even when something displeases me! I also want each of you to know that the Lord has changed my own heart for the country of Liberia, and that regardless of how a missionary or pastor from America feels that it does not make his actions right. He is a complete embarrassment and does not reflect the words and actions of all missionaries or pastors from America or England.”

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Scam Into Blessing – Part 17

Later that afternoon, Pastor Togba was expecting another guest from America. The guest was coming from Maryland in the United States. The little church that was hosting this pastor was just about one mile down the road from Maranatha Baptist where Pastor Togba was the pastor. Like many small congregations, they did not have a facility for their guest to stay, so had enquired as to whether Pastor Togba and his family would allow this man to be a guest in his home to which he graciously agreed. While the little church was charismatic in nature, Pastor Togba and his dear wife were very gracious and counted it a privilege to open their home to strangers.

A special project that had begun the night before was being concluded when we arrived. A unique custom found in parts of Africa is for the congregation to give an offering to purchase whitewash. As a sign of honor to their coming guest, many within the congregation would gather at the home where the guest would stay and completely whitewash the concrete or mud-brick home.

This small congregation had purchased what they could probably not really afford. They had then walked and worked in the oppressive heat just to make Pastor Togba’s home look a little nicer and cleaner with the new whitewash.

The day had finally arrived for their guest to arrive. Food and cool bottles of water waited on the table, and after two days of working to whitewash the house, the congregation stood patiently under the porch for their guest. The time for his arrival came and quickly went and still they waited. It was beginning to grow dark as the preacher finally made his appearance about three hours late! And it was definitely a dramatic appearance!

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Scam Into Blessing – Part 16

One by one, 35 pastors and church leaders lined up shoulder to shoulder behind me as they looked back out at the remaining seated congregants. As I turned to face the 35, I looked into the eyes of each individual and quickly realized that not included in the group who had walked forward were the three pastors who had been involved in the original attempt at duping me at the airport.

Seated behind the 35, Pastor Togba was looking at me and waiting for a response. His look seemed to be a mixture of surprise and an acknowledgement in the sure expectation that the Lord was doing great things in the country of Liberia.

My first response was, “Pastor Togba, I was not expecting this. What should I do now?”

Pastor Togba responded, “Pastor, do what you believe the Lord would have you to do!”

While I had been praying that people would respond and come afterwards to speak with either myself or Pastor Togba, I was not expecting in any way that they would of their own accord make such a public declaration before their peers. Up to that point, it had been my intention to conclude with a brief lesson that summed up the three days of teaching. Instead, I turned my attention to the 35.

The outside world blurred into insignificance along with all the problems that had brought me to this point. Facing away from the audience of on-lookers, I briefly summarized what had been heard from Paul Zawolo regarding his own faith and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Scam Into Blessing – Part 15

I learned after the meeting concluded why Paul had almost missed the final day of the conference. The first taxi he had been in was involved in an accident. A few passengers had minor injuries, but thanks to the Lord there was nothing major. However, it had taken some time to sort everything out before he was able to try and catch another taxi, but could not seem to find one that was headed in the right direction towards the district of Sinkor. After several attempts, Paul had found one that was willing to bring him right to the conference.

Paul came in and then walked to the front and sat down in the one empty seat as though it had been planned all along – maybe it had, but certainly not by me. I did a brief recap of the previous 10 hours of teaching on the law, justification, and the only means whereby man may be saved. Concluding my thoughts, I introduced Paul.

Me: “Many of you know Paul Zawolo. He has preached in some of your churches and some of you have preached at his.” (Heads nodded in agreement.)

Me: “Paul came to see me last night because he was not very happy about his own situation and his level of understanding in regards to the Word of God. He is going to come and share his testimony with you and what happened after he realized the truth.”

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Scam Into Blessing – Part 10

One of the first things you might notice in a church service is the decided absence of Bibles in Liberia. This is not just because many are not able to read, but because many books were destroyed during the fourteen year war. Bibles were no exception. It also has nothing to do with not wanting to carry the precious Word of God, for many would love to own just a portion of the Scriptures.

The Pastors’ Conference was no exception and it was sad seeing so many without their own copy of the Word of God. I felt embarrassed that I had so many in my house back in England, even extras, and some days struggled to read even one of the copies. It was just one more reason to feel very blessed for all the provisions, even those I far too often took for granted.

What these pastors and church leaders did not know though, was that we had through the generous gift of believers in England been able to purchase 125 English Bibles from the Liberian Bible Society which is located in Monrovia. At that time, it was not producing a great amount of Bibles due to costs and the difficulties involved in obtaining the supplies necessary to print large quantities. We shared with those in attendance that all who were there on the final day would receive a special gift from the believers in England. This was the suggestion that was recommended to me and would thus make it a more valuable item to those who were willing to spend three days listening to the Word being preached instead of handing them out at the beginning.

Far from being a “normal” type setting for church, I believe it is helpful to share what was going on around me in what for Liberians would be a “normal” church setting. It is one thing to look at pictures from National Geographic, but another to stand and breathe the air of those who only exist in pictures to many in the west. This is especially true of the church.

As I stood gathering my thoughts, a two-foot long lizard moved fearlessly down the wall to my right, skittered slowly across the floor to my feet, and stopped momentarily to glare at me with its beady eyes. The challenges of this new environment had long ago approached unbelievable as I stared back at the little creature. My stomach was already churning from the intake of unknown food items, and the recent trek to the back of the church to what passed for the toilet facilities was almost enough to send even the most hardened traveler over the edge.

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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.

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Scam Into Blessing – Part 7

Ruined vehicles, burned out buildings pockmarked with bullet and rocket holes, and destroyed bridges marked the highway as long-lasting evidences of the recent war. However, what kept the images alive were the road blocks every so often manned by UN troops sitting in their sandbagged positions carefully watching every person going by and maintaining a presence that was deemed necessary for the fragile peace.

Pastor Togba shared that much of the fighting was the result of Muslim incursions seeking to take more control for the sake of Islam. Ironically, while the Muslims did not win, Liberia is today surrounded by countries that are predominantly of the Islamic faith. With the advent of the UN troops though, Islam has gained an addition through attrition as the vast majority of the troops allocated to Liberia (supposedly for its protection) are from Muslim countries.

Having never seen UN troops previous to my trip to Liberia, I was appalled at what I saw. While there is much that could be debated in regards to their roles, one thing was clear – the UN was a synonymous term with greed. Everywhere I went during my trip, the troops always held themselves aloof from the local population as a whole while driving around in their very expensive vehicles. I learned from the pastors that the UN came into the country with a blank check and 15,000 troops making it the largest peacekeeping force anywhere in the world at that time.

As we passed through another of the endless parade of roadblocks, I was reminded again that only when the Prince of Peace returns will peace ever be able to reign. Men, kings, and governments can plan and scheme, but they would do well to hearken to the words of a wise pagan king found in Daniel 4:34-35, “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”

Shortly before arriving in Gbarnga, I was trying to stay cool with a fan in the back seat when my thoughts were interrupted by Pastor Togba swerving near a huge black branch in the middle of the road. I was surprised as it looked to me like he had deliberately tried to hit it – until I saw the branch move! It was a huge snake that had been sunning itself in a most convenient spot and almost paid for its poor choice of location. Outside the safety of thick glass in a zoo, I had never seen such a large snake. Fortunately, Pastor Togba decided not to stop so we could make its acquaintance! LOL

Moving through thick forests and patches of rice paddies, we entered Gbarnga and drove directly to the AFBM mission clinic. AFBM stands for African Fundamental Baptist Mission and is a group of about 20-30 churches scattered throughout Liberia. They operate a medical clinic in conjunction with medical missionaries who are serving with ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelization). Coming up the driveway, a hand painted sign on the side of the green building greets each visitor with, “We treat patients, but only God heals.”

It was a privilege to meet the staff of this clinic as they struggled to daily meet the needs of dozens of patients every day. Their goal was not just to meet the medical need, but also to provide spiritual guidance and assistance. These individuals fully understood the need of not providing just a social gospel for a person who goes to bed with a full stomach and a healthy body will still die and go straight to hell if he or she does not place their faith in Christ alone for their salvation.

Liberia is an interesting study in syncretism, which is the mixing of religions with the end result being that which only serves to satisfy the worshipper that he is doing what is necessary to protect himself from the evil spirits. Roman Catholicism allowed this to be perfected (and still does today) in many countries where natives were permitted to worship their own gods of wood and stone provided they showed lip allegiance to the religion of Rome. Liberia is no different in that many of the tribes still practice secret rituals mired in paganism while statistics claim that over 50% of the population are “Christian.”

Before retiring for the evening, we were invited over to visit one of the ABWE missionaries and were treated to a real American style meal: real mashed potatoes, Swedish meatballs, and a host of other foods that was a welcome treat. While they have since moved to serve the Lord in another very needy part of West Africa, I still remember the Lippys with fondness for their hospitality. Her parents were visiting from the USA, and it was a wonderful time of fellowship as we spoke about the need for more missionaries and the joys that came in serving the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pondering what we had seen, we stayed the night in the clinic. Gbarnga is in a more hilly region and quite some distance from the Atlantic Ocean than Monrovia and it made the nights quite a bit cooler which was nice. However, it had to be one of the most uncomfortable nights I had as my bed was similar to a hospital gurney. The mattress was less than one inch of foam on top of the metal tray. While I might have slept better on the floor, I was happier with my uncomfortable bed than I was in getting acquainted with the critters that came out at night looking for fresh victims!

The next morning was an early rise as we spent more time visiting with Stefan, who is a missionary pilot seconded to ABWE. He oversees the helicopter flights throughout the region making life so much easier for other missionaries in the area. At that time I visited, he was building a house at the edge of the AFBM medical clinic and it was a privilege to see the quick progress aided by so many of the local believers. Some were cutting mud into brick form and laying them out to bake in the sun. Some were clearing more of the land from the huge trees and shrubs. Others were laying bricks that had long been curing, while others were being an encouragement to the others.

‘ABC’ was one of those who provided encouragement along with doing smaller odd jobs. ‘ABC’ rode a special tricycle that he was able to pedal with his powerful arms. His legs did not function and his head barely made it to my waist. He was smiling from ear to ear as he shared with me how much the Lord had blessed him through his life. Shuffling around the work site, he shared with me how one prayer is that the Lord would allow him to eventually get a small motor to help him get up the hills around Gbarnga as it would enable him to get more things done.

My curiosity eventually got the better of me when some of his friends egged me on to ask him about his name. Although not wanting to break any cultural taboos about such an odd name, I must admit that I was curious. Another huge grin accompanied the response. “My friends see me pedaling all around and everywhere I go, from the time I was little, they would always say, ‘Always Be Careful!’ After awhile, it just got shortened to ‘ABC’ and that has been my name ever since.

Leaving ‘ABC’ behind, I could not help but be keenly aware that the West has been blessed with abundant mercies when it comes to wealth. In fact, the majority of the world’s wealth is controlled by the West. Yet when it comes to sharing with other countries, it normally finds its way over in the form of loans or as a means to gain something from the exchange.

Sadly, the Church at large is rarely the exception to this rule. The Church in the West controls vast amounts of finances and yet seems more interested in bigger and better building programs instead of laying up treasures in heaven. Churches spend millions every year for the next fad while congregations in 3rd world countries struggle to even offer a teaching pastor/elder a living wage of $100 per month.

The humility I found throughout Liberia was embarrassing to me as I was reminded of times that I had been less than generous with what God had given so freely to me. These people gave out of the abundance of their poverty. It was not done with the intention of earning any extra credit or kudos with the American/British missionary, but was simply loving a foreigner the way Christ loves us. They gave above and beyond and I am certain that at times it was at the expense of things they could use or need.

Willingly sharing of what they owned was another reminder of what true Christianity is all about. Loving others more than you love yourself is supposed to be a characteristic of a servant of Christ. I would be seeing more examples of love in action over the next few days that would remain with me for a long time.

Driving back down towards Monrovia, we saw an accident which is a common occurrence in Liberia. The roads are terrible and many drivers have little to no regard for the rules governing automobile usage. The accident we saw involved one of the conspicuous yellow taxis that had been traveling at a high rate of speed and hit a bridge. Sadly, there was nothing to be done for several of the passengers who had entered into eternity.

It was certainly a sobering sight and one that reminded each of us of our roles as ministers of the gospel. We never know who will be listening and it is vital that we approach each message as though it were either our last or the last for the hearer. I could not help but wonder whether the people who had been crowded into the car on their way up to Gbarnga had ever heard the missionaries speak or whether they had heard and remained in the depravity of their lost condition while loving all that was diametrically opposed to the holiness of our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and we arrived safely back at Pastor Togba’s home. Walking outside of the home, I saw Pastor Femi who served at Maranatha Baptist speaking with a friend. I sat down with them and learned that the friend had been a rebel soldier during the civil war. This young man struggled with many concerns in his heart and life, especially the things he had been involved in for about 14 years. It was a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel but it seemed to fall on deaf ears. He had too many questions that he was demanding an answer of God and felt that God owed something to him before he could place his faith in Christ alone. We spoke for about 3 hours eventually continuing on conversation in the darkness of the African night.

I called my wife that night and shared with her the conversation concerning the young man. I relayed to her how this former child soldier told me he had not even been to a church service since he had first been coerced to become a soldier. Our prayer began that night for P__________, but little did we realize that the Lord was going to perform another miracle in very short order.

(…to be continued…)

Scam Into Blessing – Part 6

The trip had already been planned and Bro. Trexler asked if I would like to go with him and Pastor Togba up to Gbarnga. This town is located in Bong County and was the main headquarters for the rebel groups during the long civil war. To get there, you travel through the town of Kakata and then on up close to the border of Guinea. Being the adventurous type (LOL), I decided that I would tag along for what was to be a 2-3 day trip into the interior where the US State Department and the British Foreign Affairs Office had highly recommended white guys like me not travel!

So with a straw hat on my head, no machete or gun for the wild animals we might encounter, a Bible in one hand and a “fa-tow” (face towel for perspiration) in the other, off we went on our African safari! The first place we came to was a suburb of Monrovia called Red Light District, so called not for any nefarious or immoral reasons but because this was the first district to get a stoplight – thus Red Light.

At an already crowded intersection, we saw a large part of the crowd circled around somebody shouting at the group. Pulling over to the side of the road, we were finally able to discern what was transpiring. The gist of the street preacher along with his thugs was this, “How many of you want a $100 US dollars only blessing? If so, then come up here and give us $100 US dollars! If you want a $50 US dollars only blessing, then come up and give us $50! God will only give you a blessing based on the amount of money you give to us!”

Listening to this health, wealth, and prosperity huckster, I was ashamed that fellow British and American preachers had done a great done exporting the false religion of charismatic phenomenon. The shameless badgering of the people for their money was nothing more than a way for the false preachers to earn a very nice living off the backs of their own people.

Moving back into the flow of traffic, I listened to Pastor Togba share that what we had just heard is about all many Liberians know of Christianity. They have been duped into believing that some deity called “God” will give them all they could ever ask for simply by scrimping their hard earned cash and giving it to a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The desire of these people is to simply provide for their families and to strike it rich. Those who claim religion as their employment are doing well in Liberia. In the meantime, countless thousands were passing off into eternity because they had never heard that “Jesus paid it all, all to whom I owe, sin had left its crimson stain, He washed me white as snow!”

Continuing north, Bro. Trexler made a stop at the village of Cooper’s Farm. It was something right out of National Geographic. A small grouping of mud huts covered with thatch roofs stood in a line overlooking a valley just off the main road. Bro. Trexler informed me that two weeks earlier he had stopped by at this location and had the opportunity to provide medical assistance to the assistant chief of the village. Afterwards, he was granted the privilege of sharing the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of the villages expressed further interest in knowing more about the Bible talks (as they could not read) and some of these people testified that their faith was in the One Whom they had heard about for the first time.

Exiting the vehicle, Bro. Trexler (who is a Physician’s Assistant by training as well as a missionary) enquired about the health of the man he had helped two weeks prior. Some of the men pointed towards one of the larger huts and we headed in that direction. Brother Trexler whispered that it would be fine if I did not want to go in to the hut or feel that I could. I whispered back that I would follow him wherever he went that day. Stooping low we entered the entrance to the hut and found it was divided into four living areas. One of them was where the assistant chief and his family lived. It consisted of one room and with the exception of one very old rickety looking wooden chair had no furniture. The floor was dirt, flies were everywhere, and the smell of sickness permeated the air.

I watched as Bro. Trexler got on his knees beside the asst. chief as he lay on his filthy blanket and gave him a medical checkup. There was nothing pretentious with this brother in Christ as he sought first to minister to the health of the man and then reiterated the words of life shared two weeks prior. The man lying on the ground was not doing well, but indicated that he would ponder what Bro. Trexler had shared.

We went back outside and a couple of men were working building what looked like crude benches. Considering there were no other pieces of furniture to be seen in the village, we asked what this was for. One of the men spoke up, “We were told about Jesus two weeks ago and placed our faith in Him. We have told everybody in the valley that they need to hear about Him as well. Therefore, we are building these benches so they will come and sit down with us and listen when Dr. Steve (what they call Bro. Trexler) comes back!”

Bro. Trexler and I looked at each with amazement and no words were possible as we considered what we had just been told. They had heard once and knew what the life-changing news meant to them and they wanted their friends and family to hear before it was too late for them. This was especially poignant considering the average life expectancy for a Liberian is around 42-44 years old.

The missionary humbled even more by the events informed the villagers that he would be back to their village in another week or so to teach them more of the Bible. Many might have just continued down the road and overlooked this small, seemingly insignificant village. However, just as the good Samaritan saw the need of the one who was bruised, bleeding and beaten, Bro. Trexler was willing to stop and render assistance and when he did, the Lord provided a sovereignly appointed opportunity to bring the message of light into another very dark corner of West Africa.

Our next stop would be Gbarnga.

(…to be continued…)

Scam Into Blessing – Part 5

The problem with prejudice is that it is pervasive. Its evil tentacles work their way down into the inner most part of your being. While your God-given conscience is screaming for attention and pointing out the error of your ways, prejudices become part of who you choose to become.

Prejudices take many forms, but the end result is almost always the same. One person thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think and in so doing puts down another. What is even worse is that when such events take place in the heart, they tend to manifest themselves outwardly in the life. And, of course, when that transpires, then the example of the Lord Jesus Christ is not being followed and we are in willful sin and disobedience to the Perfect Servant, Who died to save us, even when we were unlovable.

Sadly, this is part of the story for I found in dealing with issues of my own heart that prejudice had crept in. Ironic that even though I was a missionary pastor, I had allowed myself to consider that I was better than others. After all, I had been born in the affluent west. I had godly parents. I had been educated to a much higher standard than most of the people I was seeing around me, particularly in West Africa. And yes, to be honest, a part of me felt that I had been born with the right-colored skin tones!

If you had asked me if I considered myself to be prejudice, I would have categorically denied it. Yet, from the moment I got on the plane in London, England, and found myself surrounded entirely by passengers who were from Africa, a part of me was uncomfortable. I was concerned whether I would be safe during my travels into a part of the world I had never been, especially one that had only in the previous few months concluded a brutal civil war. And, I sure was thankful that I was not only much more civilized than that, but I came from a civilized nation! (Wow, who was I kidding!?!? – LOL)

Missionary books, documentaries, and liberal news articles had all done their part to slant my thinking about the continent of Africa in general and specifically the war-torn countries of West Africa. I got off the plane knowing that many mission groups were no longer in Liberia because home office and field staff considered the situation too volatile and dangerous for their missionaries and families.

My state of mind (and heart) was not faring much better as I realized the gravity of the situation once I saw that I had been royally scammed by an African, and not just any African, but one claiming to be a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and further claiming to be a minister of the glorious message of the gospel.

For the first few days, each person I saw was a target. I wondered whether it was safe to sleep at night, or to walk in the marketplace with my African pastor host. My thoughts were not dwelling on the spiritual plane, but on the earthly levels. To be brutally honest, I truly pondered much on whether I should have even gone to Africa. After all, I had been in England for almost 5 years as a pastor and the “results” of those years could be counted on one hand.

Africa was more or less a final hurrah in my mind. I was discouraged and just about ready to quit the ministry. My plans were to get the trip out of the way and enjoy my “safari” as much as possible for God was obviously not working in England, not pouring out His Spirit on “my” ministry, and therefore, probably not doing much in Liberia, West Africa, either.

I was not seeing people come to faith in Christ, no baptisms, discipleship was almost non-existent, and it seemed like church members were only putting on a show. In my mind, I had this ALL worked out, and all I needed was some confirmations from God proving that like Elijah, I had the right to have myself a pity party! But, like Elijah, I merely miscounted for I was not the only one with a misguided sense of purpose. No, there were actually others out there who thought more of others than they did of their own dire circumstances, and the lessons were getting ready to come thick and fast.

The weather was miserably hot. The humidity probably could not have gotten any higher without it actually raining. The reddish dust covering everything was thick and in just a couple of days felt like it had already permanently seeped its ways into my very pores. The shower which consisted of dipping a small plastic container into a 55 gallon water butt was quite cool, and while it felt good and was refreshing it was not what I needed to refocus my attention.

There was something that I was forgetting – the sovereignty of God! I had preached it and said I believed it, but I was getting ready to see it fully in action in ways I could only dream of, and at the end I would fully understand the phrase – SOLI DEO GLORIA – To God ALONE Be the Glory!

The heat combined with the new food and the incredible amount of stress was doing its work on me, so the remainder of Wednesday afternoon was spent resting until that evening. The shadows deepened until darkness finally overtook Liberia. There were no streetlights and it was very dark. A small ray of light shone from the small flashlight I had with me as I followed Pastor Togba from his house as we walked across the property to Maranatha Baptist Church for the mid-week prayer meeting.

I had already seen the building that would hold at least 175-200 people. The civil war had affected every level of society, and churches were not excluded. Maranatha Baptist had bullet and rocket holes throughout the entire building and rubble still existed in many parts of the building.

Pastor Togba shared that that an ECOWAS helicopter gunship pilot had met him after the war and shared that one day his patrol area against the rebels was Cauldwell, New Georgia District. They had known through surveillance and reports that the rebels were using the building as a headquarters in their relentless advance against the capital of Monrovia, but were not aware that it had been a church building. This pilot related that as they were responding to an attack from the rebels the building came under fire.

Radioing for instructions, the pilot stated that the order had been given to reduce the building to rubble and he had “firing discretion.” Flying in for a closer look, he maneuvered to the opposite end of the building and saw an hole up in the eaves that had been designed and built in the shape of a cross to label it as a church. The pilot shared that he was a Christian and could not bring himself to fire his missiles and destroy this location. While he had never met Pastor Togba previously and did not know about the church, the Lord allowed the building to remain in place for His own glory and honor.

That night, we walked through the darkness and moved into the stifling interior. There was only one light and it came from a lit candle on the pulpit. Each person had brought their own flashlight to church, but to conserve batteries, they would turn them off as soon as they arrived to the church to which they had walked, some for quite a distance.

I could discern a people in attendance as the song leader began to lead the congregation in songs that they knew by heart. In a later part of the story, I will relate the Liberian music style which is quite unique. After a couple of songs, one of the church elders brought a brief message on the responsibility of following Jesus as a true believer. When he completed, I listened as one after another, unseen individuals stood to their feet with a “Praise the Lord?” to which all the others would respond, “AMEN!”

They shared from their heart that they had so much to be thankful for. My own problems quickly went from insignificant to disappearing altogether as I listened with tears in my own eyes. I was glad that nobody could see me, but the Lord who knew my heart. He knew what I needed and the spiritual refreshment I had received not just from the ministry of the Word, but also from the simple giving of thanks from a people who had nothing to speak of in worldly terms. However, they did have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and because of that they had ALL things in common with one another – namely, the joy of the Lord.

Nothing was going to dampen their enthusiasm as they sang, or gave praise to God. Their own poverty did not prevent them in the least from lifting their voices in request for friends, family and even other nations who they felt were in need of a Saviour and who they felt were even in more dire straits than themselves. I will never forget one person who stood quite near to me exclaim, “Praise the Lord, we have so much to be thankful for. God has given us all we need.”

Walking back across the property, I didn’t turn on my flashlight as I followed Pastor Togba back to the house. I wanted to remind myself that all the things I had made me very rich in worldly goods compared to Liberians who have the 2nd poorest country in the world.

I was sobered as I thought about all I had heard and knew that some of the richness in the hearts of these people had worked its way through the darkness and filled my own heart with joy. My prayer would become that I would never forget what I had already seen and heard in just two days since landing in West Africa. With the Lord being my helper, I would learn to be thankful and any time I wanted to complain about what I didn’t “have” that the Lord would remind me of my brothers and sisters who were content with such things as they had.

Struggling through the night with heat and more of the “633 Mosquito Squadron”, I slept with peace in my heart knowing that whatever came next, it would be accepted as from the Sovereign hand of the Saviour who knew better than I what I needed to learn. And Thursday was going to bring more lessons in both humility and service in action!

(…to be continued…)

Scam Into Blessing – Part 4

Leaving with Pastor Togba and Bro. Trexler, we headed across Monrovia. To understand a little better what I saw next, the reader should be aware that Liberia had been one of the most modern countries in West Africa, if not in the entire continent. Running water, sewage, and electricity was common place, particularly in the large cities. People turned on a light switches as if commonplace. Women washed and dried their clothes in Maytag and Whirlpool appliances, and people drove to and from work in newer vehicles on paved roads bathed in the glow of electric streetlights.

Liberia was certainly a country that had plenty and it appeared she had been blessed by God. Religious services were abundant with churches from many denominations dotting every other street corner. But then war struck – hard! In the end, estimates of over 250,000 were killed and more than 1 million were displaced from their homes. Sadly, much of the killing, rampaging, looting, raping, etc. was conducted by children soldiers fighting only because they would have been killed by the militia group that held them captive.

It is hard to describe the land of Liberia in mere words for every aspect of this beautiful land assaults every one of the senses. Driving through Monrovia, the first thing you feel is the oppressive heat and accompanying humidity. The perspiration pooling on your forehead is almost forgotten as your nose wrinkles at all the smells which include: food cooking in roadside cafes that in America would constitute nothing more than a run-down backyard shed, burning rubber, open raw sewage ditches, and the ever present odors from trash-filled streets. Dust carries the taste of Liberia as it settles into your pores mixing with perspiration.

The streets reverberate with the sound of clamoring voices in marketplaces, the myriad of car and motorbike horns (no matter the time of day or night), and the occasional street preaching huckster striving to con more people out of their money with empty promises of huge blessings from God. The health, wealth, and prosperity gospel has been fully assimilated into Liberian culture as its evil tentacles have enslaved many countries around the world. On another corner, one of 34 languages would ring out as the speaker hailed a fellow tribesman.

The sense that struggles the most is that of sight. Your other senses have learned to pinpoint a certain trigger like the smell of burning rubber or the sound of a car horn. The saying is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, but a picture in Liberia is probably worth more than that. It is impossible to take a snapshot of a town or city in Liberia and adequately convey to the viewer all that the picture means.

Having just spent a restless night and already quite tired, I struggled to understand what my eyes had never seen before. Burnt-out vehicles dotted the roads and filled disease-filled pools or rivers. Every house, wall, office, and church pockmarked with uncounted bullet holes. Rockets left their mark with the evidence being destroyed bridges and buildings. Concrete hulks or shells accommodated dozens, hundreds, and in some high-rises thousands of people with no place left to go.

People rushing to and from various locations, many dressed in colorful Liberian garb, were a constant distraction. Children who should have been in school sat on steps or played with a stick. The fortunate ones managed to find a football (soccer ball in the USA) to play with and many of those were patched or stitched in order to extend the life once again.

Along the river banks and on side streets, dumps filled with trash were being combed through meticulously by adults and children alike. Each person intent on finding something to eat or a small treasure that could be translated into a mere pittance to be used to help buy food so their family could eat that night. Babies cried while laying on dirt-encrusted mattresses and in vain a sibling would listlessly attempt to swat away the flies that tried endlessly to reach the orifices of each little bundle.

The streets were crowded not just with people walking but with vehicles, buses, trucks, hand-pushed carts, bicycles, and motorcycles all jockeying for position three, four, and even 5 abreast on two lanes. Yellow taxis were crowded with passengers as were buses and open cargo trucks. Often a pickup truck would pass with 15-20 people standing in the back holding on to each other.

Each intersection produced endless supplies of vendors of all ages running up to your vehicle hawking “i-wa” or “fa-tows.” “I-wa” is the term used for small plastic bags of ice water that was more like cool water, while “fa-tows” were the small washcloths used by many to wipe the perspiration from the face or to try and shelter the top of the head from the merciless sun. These were inevitably followed by children, some as young as 4 and 5, coming up begging for a small handout. Their families sat to the side encouraging this while others not so scrupulous made a living by the use of these little ones.

It was a lot to take in and I would see even more that left a permanent mark in my brain, but there was only so much I would be able to assimilate. Arriving at Pastor Togba’s house, his family welcomed me warmly. As I rested before lunch, I looked again through the pictures I had already taken and tried to fill in the blanks of the previous hours my eyes could not understand or had missed.

There was much and while each photo re-emphasized my being in a very strange world, one thing was constant – the people. The people were what I had come to this country to see. I was not there on a sight-seeing tour or a trip to enjoy paradise or even to take an African safari, I was there to see people for whom Christ died. I had a greater purpose and it would not be long before that became a reality because “people need the Lord.”

As they had promised, the “three pastors” showed up promptly at 9am on the Wednesday to speak with us again in regards to conducting the Pastors’ Conference and the “Crusade.” The previous evening though had seen much discussion mainly between myself, Pastor Togba, and Bro. Trexler. We discussed all of the circumstances surrounding the events that had transpired, the fact that these pastors were of a highly charismatic group of churches, and what our response should be to what were obviously individuals who were lost on their way to a Christ-less eternity.

Pastor Togba being the gracious host that he was offered the men a snack and something to drink – Liberian style coffee. Most of the coffee I was given was quite strong and then liberally sweetened with generous handfuls of sugar cubes. It was a taste that did not quite agree with me, unlike the food which I really enjoyed. However, that is for another part of the story.

The “three pastors” took some coffee and an uneasy silence ensued as they very slowly dropped sugar cubes into their cups and all the while keeping their eyes turned down. From the time I had walked into the room upon their arrival, they had refused to make eye contact with me. Once again, we sat at another table – Pastor Togba, Bro. Trexler, and myself on one side, and on the other – the “three pastors” and the deacon/night guard, Moses.

Pastor Togba and Bro. Trexler had agreed that I should be the one who would have to make the ultimate decision in regards to the conference and crusade. Therefore, it would be left to me to carry the conversation and they would just be there for moral support.

We waited until the silence was broken by the ringleader. Continuing to stir his sugar-thickened coffee, he acknowledged that they had made some mistakes in their misrepresentation of who they were and their part in the emails. Finally looking up, he said, there has already been monies spent for the printing and pastors/elders/deacons were expecting to be taught by myself on the following Monday. So, he concluded, we would like to ask once again if you would be willing to come and teach at the church.

Based on the previous evening’s long conversation, I first responded by sharing my own personal testimony about placing my faith in Christ. Second, I informed them that what I believed was not even close to their own doctrinal position (if they really even had one). I had already found out from speaking with Pastor Togba that many churches had sprung up all over Monrovia of the health, wealth, and prosperity persuasion and were leading people astray with a works-based salvation, if they spoke of salvation at all.

With those basics understood, I told them that the crusade was not an option. This had been fully agreed with me by Pastor Togba and Bro. Trexler. The problems involved in such an event would have posed many more issues, most of which I would not understand due to cultural differences. At this point, the “sullen” pastor interrupted me to try and get me to reconsider. However, I made it clear that this could not be an option and we would continue discussing the Pastors’ Conference only. One thing I had learned from Pastor Togba is that conducting such a crusade (even without the faith-healing charade attached to it) would have raised the status of these pastors and made them very important in their local communities. The last thing we wanted was to perpetuate the myths that they believed about themselves and that they spreading to their congregations.

I concluded that I would conduct the Pastors’ Conference with Pastor Togba beginning the following Monday. However, a few things needed to be understood. I told them that I would be setting the agenda for the meetings, as well as the teaching material, and we would not be involved in any of the music that preceded each morning session on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Continuing, I told them there would be no laying on of hands and certainly no speaking in tongues, etc. would be tolerated or the meetings would not continue. The ringleader and the sullen pastor wanted to argue with me over my guidelines, but finally realized that I was not going to budge and they all agreed to my conditions.

After just over two hours of conversation, they took their leave and once again the deacon, Moses, came up to me and gave me an embrace. “Thank you for deciding to come to my church. You will be made very welcome.” None of the other pastors expressed any words of thanks or appreciation, but simply said good-bye.

Pastor Togba believed that it was a great opportunity for churches of different groups or denominations did not mix in Liberia. He said that another chance to speak to this particular charismatic group might never present itself again and he considered it a God-given opportunity. It would not be a chance to merge any churches, nor to convince these people to become baptistic in their doctrine. This would be one open door to clearly express the gospel message of the Lord Jesus Christ to pastors who were dead in trespasses and sins.

I left the dining room and walked back to my little bedroom. Sitting down on my bed, I pulled out all the notes that I had brought and knew they would not be used. I had written for pastors and church leaders who professed faith in Christ alone. As Pastor Togba had shared, the vast majority of those who claimed to be pastors in Liberia had never even heard the truth of the law of God that condemned them, nor had they heard the full account of the glorious message of the cross.

Although the rates were high, I called my wife to tell her everything was good. I shared what would transpire the following Monday and for her to spread the word so that friends and family could pray that the Lord would prepare the hearts of those who would be in attendance. I must admit that one heart that still needed some work though was mine.

(…to be continued…)

Scam Into Blessing – Part 3

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


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 1

The Pilgrim has asked if I would be willing to post the account of my missions trip to Liberia, West Africa. I am thankful to be able to do this, and I hope that this will be an encouragement to each of the readers and bring honor and glory to our Saviour.


In January 2007, I had the privilege of visiting Liberia, West Africa. Although during my first few hours of the trip, I cannot say that I counted it a blessing or a privilege for it was (humanly speaking) a scam artist that had managed to get me to Liberia. However, I am getting ahead of my story.

I was pastoring a small mission work in England, northeast of London about 80 miles. The Lord had been gracious to me through a very debilitating illness that saw me spending most of my days in bed for several months. I was finally able to start walking with a cane away from the house and it was just a handful of months later that I received an email from Liberia.

Our church was broadcasting my sermons on the internet and the writer of the email stated that they would like me to prayerfully consider offering some kind of training to their pastors. Over the next two months, the emails progressed to the point where they asked me if I would be willing to go to Liberia and conduct two groups of meetings. The first would be a training conference for local pastors and the second would be an evangelistic crusade in the capital of Monrovia.

Writing back, I informed them that I was just an unknown pastor in a small mission work and felt that they had the wrong individual or a misunderstanding about who I was or what I could offer. The next few emails assured me that they believed the Lord was in the contact and would love to have me visit their country which had just a few months previously come out of a devastating 15 year civil war.

Somewhat skeptically at first, then with growing courage, I applied for my Liberian visa, got a series of shots designed to protect me from tourist-hunting mosquitoes, and purchased my airplane ticket. I was now committed to leaving in January. However, once I had purchased my ticket and I was about 2 weeks away from going, the emails began to get really weird. Something seemed a little odd, but I could not put my finger on the problem.

My family went with me to Gatwick Airport in London, England, and with much trepidation we said goodbye not sure what would happen. The US State Department and the British Home Office had both advised against travel into Liberia and certainly not beyond Monrovia which was also part of the travel plans. The temperature was below freezing and I was wearing a winter coat. With my lighter British summer clothing, sunscreen, malaria tablets, anti-insect repellent, a case full of sermon cassette tapes and materials, and a few other things, I felt I was prepared to take West Africa by storm.

After an almost 7 hour flight due south, we flew into Freetown, Sierra Leone which also had recently concluded a brutal civil war. UN Russian-made gunships were sitting on the tarmac and there were guns everywhere being wielded by UN troops. We were on a 767 and the plane was completely full when we left London. At Sierra Leone, all but 10 passengers (including myself) got off the plane and after about 1 hour on the ground, we took off in a southeasterly direction headed towards Liberia as the last of the tropical sun faded from view. Unlike western nations, there were no lights twinkling up at us from the ground. No cities came and went underneath our wings, at least none that we could see.

After about an hour, the captain announced we were coming in to land and I began to worry as the plane went lower and lower. The wheels dropped and still we saw no lights. Finally, I saw the ground and small lights and flares right before the plane touched down. We taxied directly to what might be termed a terminal but was little more than a ramshackle concrete building. Collecting my bag, I left my seat wondering what the Dark Continent held in store for me.

Stepping from the comfort of the plane, I stepped into the open and promptly began to perspire in 95F heat at 9:30pm. The humidity was close to 90% and the mosquitoes began their quest for the pale white guy from England! LOL

Along with my 9 fellow passengers, we made our way down the steps and across the tarmac. Workers opened up the hold behind us to retrieve the few bags left under the watchful eyes of the UN soldiers manning their machine gun nests from a war-ravaged building that I later learned used to be a rather modern airport terminal, but was little more than a concrete hulk pitted and pockmarked with bullet and rocket holes.

We were ushered into the ramshackle building that now served as the Terminal for the Roberts International Airport of Monrovia. There were no other airplanes on the tarmac and nothing else would arrive for 2 more days. The airline I flew with only had one flight per week. After refueling, they would leave later that night and it would be about the time they took off that I would have given just about anything to be back on that plane flying to civilization and my waiting family.

Walking in, there was a sign reading Passports. I handed my passport through the window, but the person waved me off and pointed to a man standing in an open door one step to the right. I handed the passport to this man, who looked at it (upside down) then passed it back to the person sitting at the desk I had just tried to hand it to through the window! This individual also looked at the passport upside down and right-side up then stamped a mark in it. They then handed it back to the guy at the open door who reached out and handed it back to me. (Go figure! I thought well I guess both people need to earn their pay or maybe things are just REEEEEALLY different in Africa! Yep, to both thoughts as I would find out later.)

Turning around, I was instructed by the guy in the door that I needed to go to the next office and produce my vaccination proof for yellow-fever. I took 4 steps and reached the next office. Same routine, different office! This person could read and after verifying I had the appropriate serum running through my veins (at least on paper) as protection from a nasty disease, I was told to proceed to pick up my baggage.

5 more steps and the door opened to what I can only describe as sheer bedlam. As soon as I walked through, myself and the other 9 passengers were assaulted by a mass of people in a room that was lit with just one (1) lightbulb. Each passenger was being hit up for groups seeking the privilege to help you get through baggage control – for a fee, of course. Asking one of my veteran African travelers what the proper procedure was, he told me I should figure on paying a helper $1-3 dollars based on amount of luggage. This was the equivalent of a full day’s pay to a Liberian.

I agreed to a price and my luggage happened to be the last off. We walked a few steps into the other half of the building where my fellow 9 passengers already were in luggage control. Each had their bags opened on rickety tables and a group of Liberians were going through each piece of luggage. While I had nothing to hide, I would have preferred not to have my bags torn apart and then have to repack all the supplies for the pastors.

The three Liberians escorting me marched me to the front of the line. One of them was walking right behind me when we walked into this room. As we approached one of the tables, a heated conversation developed between the guys helping me with my luggage and the small group of people waiting to go through my Fruit of the Looms (LOL). The conversation was in another language which I later learned was probably Kpelle. The guy behind me had his hand on my back and was pushing me forward while the other two kept talking in a very animated fashion. Needless to say, the Lord answered a small prayer because the guys at the table stepped aside and I was allowed to pass into the night without opening a single bag!

With no knowledge of the local languages, barely understandable English being spoken by a few around me, and not exactly sure who I was supposed to be meeting, I walked through the doors to the outside and was greeted by a white missionary, Bro. Steve Trexler, with ABWE! Talk about a surprise. It was a real blessing because what came next would probably be the biggest surprise of my trip.

(…to be continued…)

Landcruiser for Liberia?

If you know of anyone who may have a Toyota Landcruiser they would like to donate to the work of Village Church Planters – Liberia, please have them contact VCP via the information from Village Church Planters or E-mail e-mail here. Also, you may write to us at This does not have to be a newer model but would want one to be in good repair and still have plenty of miles left on the engine. Liberians are very frugal and will make the vehicle last longer than many places in the west. It would also need to be 4-wheel drive due to the terrible road conditions.

We are praying that a suitable vehicle will be made available so as to further the work of VCP. Many places in Liberia are not accessible by taxi or motorcycle, especially during the rainy seasons.

Toyota Landcruisers are the best vehicles for West Africa due to the ready availability of parts. Many of the NGO’s (like the UN, etc.) have been using these, but they are very expensive in Liberia.

We have a Christian organization, Service To Servants, that ships vehicles and supplies to Liberia for missionaries. Once we have obtained an appropriate vehicle, we will be able to ascertain what the cost of import duty would be.

Please pray with us that this need will become a reality for the honor and glory of God as the work spreads further and further into the interior. Such a vehicle would be an extreme blessing to the pastors of VCP, none of whom are able to afford a vehicle.

The above picture is the type of vehicle we are looking for, and if you can throw in some snow to send to Liberia, that would also be a benefit! LOL

Another picture of an older style. The longer wheel base is necessary as this will hold 6-7 people comfortably, but would probably accommodate 10+ by Liberian standards.