Our team of four arrived in Liberia with only one suitcase because the airline failed to put our luggage on the short flight from Accra to Monrovia. After we got over the shock of not having any of our belongings, we began to scheme on how we could make one persons clothes fit all four of us. That first night at the hotel, we even laughed about making the curtains into dresses. Thankfully we had a contact in Monrovia that could go get our luggage the next day at the airport while we made our way down country. We couldn't delay our trip down country just for three suitcases that would eventually show up...right?! The second day without our clothes wasn't too bad. There are ways around this little inconvenience. Joking turned to desperation on the third day. We realized how accustomed we are to having plenty. Mission Aviation Fellowship had flown us down country. They graciously offered to bring our delayed luggage on the next available flight. What a wonderful sight to see our luggage arrive on George's motorcycle!
This little mishap by the airline was really small in comparison to what the Liberian people have suffered. And what they do suffer both physically and spiritually. Physically, it was the fifteen year civil war and Ebola that made it's mark on Liberians. You can't walk a day on Liberian soil without hearing a tragic story of loss. It's scattered everywhere, touched so many people. And Spiritually, the damage is far reaching. It penetrates the soul. It has lasting effects. Eternal life or eternal death.
As we began to spend time with the ladies who came to the teaching we realized how they too were missing "outfits". I've learned that most Liberian women like to have a full complimenting outfit on with a nice head wrap to complete the look. I've tried to take just a casual snapshot and I've always heard the complaint, "I'm not dressed well." Yes, the women always look so beautiful in their colorful outfits against their smooth dark skin.
So, what's missing from their "luggage". Well, first of all, most Liberian women haven't had the privilege of going to school. They somehow missed out on an education (thanks to the war & poverty) An education that could give them the tools to read and write. One of the ladies said to us when we handed her a printed piece of paper with scripture verses on it, "What will I do with this? She had it upside down! Out of our class of fifteen women, only three could read and write. Now that's a challenge!
Another piece of missing clothing is whatever they hear from the radio or a preacher becomes the TRUTH. Wait a minute. Wouldn't it help if they could read the Bible for themselves, so that they could align what they hear with the Word of God? A lot of the questions asked throughout the week of teaching was a misunderstanding of scripture. Or it was something they heard and somehow it became the gospel truth. If they could read for themselves this may be an easier problem to solve.
We were greatly encouraged by those who could read & write! They were enthusiastic about learning God's Word so that they could pass it on to their kids & friends! One of the ladies teaches school so she was asking if we could print out the Bible Chronological pictures for her so that when she taught her class they would have a visual too. Another lady, a pastor's wife, was happy to receive the tools she needed to teach the Chronological lessons!
It was so encouraging to hear testimonies of what the Gospel means to these women. We were happy to hear many of them give a clear understanding to what Christ had done for them on the cross. This we do know, they have some important pieces of "clothing" in their suitcases! They know that it's only by Christ's shed blood that they have forgiveness of sins. Would you continue to pray for these dear ladies? Would you join in prayer with us as we seek God to know how to help the ones who don't know how to read & write? What would God have us do?