I started making this website after a recent article in the Morris paper (down below). I've met a Liberian once before in Morris. She was actually a college student attending UMM, but I didn't really get a chance to get to ask her more about her and the country she came from. I decided to do more re"search" on this unique country today (Tuesday, January 30th of 2007) after PCS told me about some Liberians starting to work in their group homes. I found one of many interesting facts this evening, which is the origins of the name "Liberia" (free African-American slaves in the 1800's-cool!).
" The Orphan Grain Train semi trailer was fully loaded with the supplies and volunteers unloaded the desks and chairs from one trailer and into the semi. The Orphan Grain Train is a non-governmental Christian organization which aims to aid underpriveleged children and elderly around the world.
Cleo Harris: 'I just don't know what to do' "But indigenous tribes did not welcome the newly arrived "Americo-Liberians." Over time, this tension erupted into the violence that eventually drove Harris and throngs of others back across the Atlantic to America, seeking sanctuary.
And now they may be sent back once again.
The sudden departure of thousands would be a dramatic change to their communities. Officials are just beginning to assess what would happen if hundreds of houses are dumped on the market, if dozens of nursing homes lose skilled workers, if scores of children are pulled from school or left behind."
"As peacekeeping troops wait to enter Liberia, there's another, less visible, group waiting in the wings in Minnesota. More than 20,000 Liberians live in exile in the Twin Cities. Many of these are young Liberians who are in school receiving training and developing skills to rebuild their homeland. "
"MINNEAPOLIS — Two Minneapolis Liberian congregations who merged in January, exuberantly celebrated a recording breaking crowd that enjoyed rhythmic African music plus conventional hymns, powerful preaching, warm fellowship and great ethnic food.
Joy World Mission Church (JWMC) and Christ Universal Ministries (CUM) are now Joy World Universal Church (JWUC). Their Easter theme was “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”
Senior pastor at JWMC since 2002, the Rev. Samuel Vansiea, fills that role at JWUC. The Rev. Lee Anderson, founder and pastor of CUM, is resident pastor.
“Our week-long Easter celebration began Palm Sunday in a sanctuary decorated with palm branches,” said Vansiea. “From March 29 to Good Friday, adoration prayer/fasting expressed gratitude for the salvation, healing and hope that Easter brings. We fasted daily and then met at church at 6:00 p.m. for fellowship meals. Our Good Friday service lasted from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., with seven speakers highlighting Christ’s seven sayings from the cross.”
Both parent churches are a result of Liberia’s brutal civil war in the 1980s, when many refugees came to the Twin Cities. Joy World Mission Church began in 1986 as Minnesota’s first Liberian congregation, becoming a strong base in Minneapolis for salvation, hope and inspiration to the growing Liberian refugee population (see related story).
Vansiea holds a Master of Divinity degree and is pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry degree at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, besides being a staff chaplain at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.
"I am humbled by the congregation’s decision to make me senior pastor,” Vansiea said. His 25 years of pastoral experience include ministry in Liberia and the Ivory Coast before the United States. “Liberia’s brutal civil war caused many of us to walk for days along bush roads and villages seeking food and safety. We lost everything, frequently facing armed rebels and death,” he said.
While fleeing, Vansiea provided pastoral care to other displaced victims. His completed manuscript of those experiences is entitled, "Treasure of God’s Will."
Although JWUC consists primarily of Liberians, all peoples are welcome. They meet at 1121 Lowry Avenue. Both parent churches are excited about the union, the first known merger of Liberian churches here.
“Our church merger is an important step forward,” Vansiea said, “pulling resources together for ministry growth. Our immediate ministry target is to reach young people by developing programs that they enjoy. This summer’s camp will focus on issues like drugs, high school dropouts, teen pregnancy and other challenges facing young people.”
During the last 23 years, JWMC in turn has helped birth many more churches, including Garden of Gethsemane, Victory Temple, Christ Universal Ministries, United Christian Fellowship and more.
“There are currently 41 Liberian congregations in Minnesota,” said Anderson. "The vision to merge does not stop with us. God will do greater things among and through us as we combine resources and work as a team. I hope to see many other small Liberian churches meeting in classrooms and office buildings consolidate.”
"Our merger process was daunting and arduous, taking 15 months and 25 committee and congregation meetings besides numerous consultations, negotiations and planning times,” added Vansiea. “Now the real work lies ahead with challenges more daunting than the process that got us here. We did not merge just for the sake of merging, but to grow, make an impact on our greater community and reach the unreached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Supporters applaud the church merger as a step in the right direction. “That is the right thing to do,” said Kerper Dwanyen, president of Minnesota’s Liberian community.
"Every adventure starts with the first step,” Vansiea said. “As long as we are alive, we take first steps. We celebrate now because God made this happen."
ACTION BOX: For more information on Joy World Universal Church, visit www.joyworlduniversalchurch.org.
"TWIN CITIES — Doris Kaiyonnoh Parker remembers watching the war in her home country, Liberia, on CNN. Thousands of miles away in Minnesota she heard reporters say Monrovia, the Liberian capital, was under siege.
“They name the area where your family lives and you hear all kinds of horrible things that are happening and you cannot get in touch with your family members,” Parker, who now heads a home healthcare company and directs a Liberian women’s group, recalled. “That was just nerve wracking. I don’t know how to describe it. I remember I used to go to work and run into the bathroom and just cry.”
At the start of the war Parker, who moved to the U.S. in 1986, had limited support. She estimates there were three or four Liberian churches in Minnesota at the time, as refugees had not yet started flooding out of the country.
Now things have changed.
Today there are about 25 Liberian churches in Minnesota, according to a 2008 report by Bruce Corrie, an economics professor at Concordia University.
For Liberian immigrants in Minnesota, churches serve as a crucial social, emotional and spiritual support system. Churches facilitate advocacy on issues important to the Liberian community and mediate between Liberians and the general public.
The Organization of Liberians in Minnesota, an umbrella group for the community, estimates there are between 20,000 and 30,000 Liberians in the state. Many fled their country’s 14-year long civil war, which ended in 2003. Some, like Parker, came in the 1980s during the rule of an authoritarian president who persecuted those connected with the previous government. Still others immigrated earlier to attend universities in the U.S.
Addressing community needs
Liberian churches in Minnesota organize their missions around needs specific to the Liberian community.
Liberian children who reached the U.S. during the war often missed years of school while living in refugee camps. Schools in Monrovia would shut down for months at a time during the fighting. In Minnesota, refugees were placed in grades based on their age. As a result many have trouble catching up academically to their peers. Drop-out rates are high. Gangs and teenage pregnancy exacerbate this problem.
Joy World Mission Church, an interdenominational church in Minneapolis, used to have a program to help children reach their grade level and now encourages one-on-one tutoring among church members.
Local churches have tackled laws impacting immigration status, one of the most pressing issues for Liberians in Minnesota. Many came to the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status, an immigration status that allowed Liberians to stay in the U.S. because of ongoing armed conflict in their home country.
When this status was terminated in 2007 Liberians were granted Deferred Enforced Departure. When this new designation expires in March 2009 thousands of Liberians will have to choose between returning to Liberia—a country many have not lived in for over a decade—or staying in the U.S. illegally.
The Organization of Liberians in Minnesota coordinates most advocacy efforts around immigration issues but works through pastors to communicate effectively with the Liberian community, according to Samuel Vansiea, a pastor at Joy World Mission Church.
Churches also have helped the organization raise funds for travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with policymakers.
Liberian churches liaise between Liberians and the general public. The relationship between Liberians and the police in Minnesota is often contentious.
“Some of the people in our community fall into problems with the police just because the police don’t know our culture,” said Francis Tabla, a pastor at Ebenezer Community Church in Brooklyn Park. “If a policeman pulls you over in Liberia you get up and walk over to the policeman. [If you do that] here in America you could get shot.”
Ebenezer has taken a lead in bridging gaps between the police and the Liberian community.
The church takes its name from the Hebrew roots of Ebenezer, meaning “stone of help.” The word is used in Samuel 7:12, when Samuel names a stone Ebenezer, saying “thus far the Lord has helped us,” a phrase that resonates strongly with Liberians.
Adapting to a new culture
When Wilmot Kulah moved from Liberia to Minnesota in 1985 he found his new home isolating. In Monrovia, Kulah had been a math teacher at the University of Liberia, living in a city where everyone seems to know everyone. But in Minnesota people locked doors, Kulah said.
“You didn’t even know who lived next door.”
Two years after his move, Kulah, who now works at a nursing home, joined Joy World Mission Church. Here he could relate to people because of a common culture.
“This is almost like my second family,” he said, having been with the church now for 21 years.
Parker frequently sees the isolation Kulah experienced. As head of Liberian Women’s Initiatives of Minnesota (LIWIM), a local group serving the needs of Liberian women in the state, she has developed programs with the support of local churches to help older Liberian women learn how to use the telephone and write their names. Social recreation among older Liberian women in Minnesota is rare, Parker said.
“Prior to the war a lot of these [women] were leaders in their community, business owners. Even though they didn’t have formal education they were functional in their environment and very successful,” Parker said.
But in the U.S. these same women find it impossible to function in an environment where reading and writing skills are essential for independence.
“They’re kind of paralyzed,” Parker said, “they have to wait for family members to take them out.”
The spiritual role played by pastors and church communities, however, is perhaps the most vital role churches play in the lives of Liberians. Prior to the war going to church was just a way of life for many Liberians, according to Parker.
Parker said that during the war, though, “Liberians had to endure all kinds of torture and terrible things that happened to them, they had no one else to turn to but God, and that was their strength and that’s how they survived.”
Shelby Grossman blogs about Liberian politics from www.shelbygrossman.com. She can be contacted at email@example.com."
"The Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Project was launched by Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights on June 22, 2006. The project is designed to give Liberian refugees in the U.S. a role in promoting international justice and human rights as part of the truth and reconciliation process in Liberia. The project will also raise awareness of transitional justice mechanisms and the Liberian process here in the United States. Minnesota Advocates is working directly with Liberia�s recently inaugurated Truth and Reconciliation Commission to develop this project.
"MONROVIA, LIBERIA, WEST AFRICA (ANS) -- Malcolm Kelly, former standout receiver at the University of Oklahoma and 2nd Round draft pick of the Washington Redskins, is visiting the African nation of Liberia from July 5 - 10th on behalf of the global charity, Mercy Ships.
According to a media release from Mercy Ships, the five-day �Vision Trip� is designed to shed light on the medical and development effort Mercy Ships is providing to the people of Liberia, as they continue to improve their health and well-being standards within the country�s reconstruction.
Mercy Ships says that during the weeklong trip, the group will visit with crew onboard the Mercy Ships flagship, Africa Mercy, the world�s largest non-governmental hospital ship, which is docked in the nation�s capitol, the port city of Monrovia.
The group will view surgeries in one of the Africa Mercy�s six state-of-the-art surgical suites and tour parts of the country now recovering from more than a decade of civil war. Malcolm will also meet with Liberian officials and hold a press conference before leaving Liberia.
In addition, he will spend an afternoon working out with members of the 2008 Liberian Olympic Team and other Liberian athletes at the Samuel Doe Stadium.
The Mercy Ships press release says Malcolm has enlisted the help of his own personal trainer, world-renowned sports performance coach, Chip Smith and Competitive Edge Sports, based out of Atlanta, Georgia, to provide two coaching sessions for trainers and athletes to encourage the emergence of Liberian sport initiatives.
Liberia�s Deputy Minister for Sports, Mr. Marbue Richards states,� We are a developing nation and what we are lacking is trained trainers. Mr. Kelly bringing his personal Training Coach for our benefit is a wonderful opportunity. The fact that Chip Smith is world renowned and is willing to share his training techniques for free is very valuable because we want to produce more competitive athletes.�
Following involvement in college with Mercy Ships, Malcolm named the global organization as his charity of choice soon after declaring himself eligible for the 2008 NFL Draft.
The International offices of the global charity are located only 25 miles from Kelly�s hometown of Longview, Texas. Malcolm�s father, Moses Kelly will also accompany him on the trip.
�I�m honored and humbled to play a small part in this effort to bring both hope and healing to the people of Liberia,� said Kelly. �As I have come to know the history and spirit of the Liberian people through Mercy Ships, I feel a real connection to the country. I admire the way they are rebuilding their future and I want to do everything I can to help. My folks always taught me that giving is better than receiving�unless of course it is on the football field.�
Mercy Ships is a global charity that has operated hospital ships in developing nations since 1978. Mercy Ships brings hope and healing to the forgotten poor by mobilizing people and resources worldwide.
A crew of both professional medical and non-medical volunteers serves all people without regard for race, gender, or religion. This is the forth time a Mercy ship has visited Liberia.
For more information about this trip, or to schedule an interview contact:
For Malcolm Kelly in USA
Mercy Ships International
For International Media:
Diane Rickard, Director Media Relations
Mercy Ships International
UK Tel: 44 1438 727 800
"More than 300,000 people died in Liberia during the brutal wars of the 80's and 90's. Children suffered the worst as their parents were killed and they were forced to become soldiers as young as 10 years old. The orphans of Liberia need our help. Join us in making a difference for these kids."
Supermodel Naomi Campbell to testify at war crimes trial, Thu Aug 5, 1:17 am ETnews.yahoo.com "..Taylor is the first former African head of state to face an international war crimes trial. He is accused of instigating murder, rape, mutilation, sexual slavery, conscription of child soldiers and trading in "blood diamonds" during the 10-year civil war in Sierra Leone, which killed over 250,000 people. Blood diamonds, or conflict diamonds, are gems mined in a war zone and used to finance an insurgency. During his testimony, Taylor claimed that he never possessed such stones. ..
Stopping the international blood diamond trade
"When I arrived at one village, a young man about 17 years old came up to me and said, "Sir, will you tell us about God?" I almost cried as I told 75 people about Jesus. As I walked up they parted for me to pass. One man ran forward and fell on his knees. Folding his hands, he said, "Bless me, Jesus, oh, Jesus, bless me, I want to go to heaven." He was crying. The crowd pushed close around. He put my hand to his head. I felt so strange. Then I said, "I am a man, not Jesus. I am not Jesus but He is near. I will tell you how to talk to Him, how to know Him. He will bless you."
He pleaded, "Oh, yes, yes, tell me, tell me."
I told and everyone else heard. Then the two of us prayed. He leaped up in joy and happiness.
At the last home on a hill an old man stood with six boys near him. I waved to him and he called, "We've been waiting for you all day. We want you to preach to these boys - I will interpret. We've heard about you." I climbed up the hill to this elderly 69-year old man. He gathered up his six little boys lined in a row beside him and I preached to them. They all gave their lives to Jesus. I loved them so much. He asked if he could carry the cross a short distance. He and the six boys walked with me for about a half a mile, then we hugged, kissed and said good-bye, never to meet again until heaven. ...
As I preached today I almost fainted. I had no microphone, just my voice. I was so weak I could hardly stand since I had preached 15 times today, exhausted, but praising God. It takes a lot of energy to keep going across this vast continent. I usually don't mention much about myself so it is hard for anyone to see me as I really am. My feet are in bandages, my shoes are worn through and the rocks are cutting my feet. I must find someplace to get resoles on my shoes. My little toe and the soles of my feet are bleeding. I now weigh to 173 pounds.
Tonight I am in the bush. I feel Jesus so close to me, wrapping His arms around me. Oh, He must love me so much. I know God truly loves me and I love Him. I will go on, praying that I shine as a light in these distant lands for His glory.....
*see GoodnewsEverybody.com Movies: The Passion, Crucification, Easter, Resurrection, etc..