Friday, December 30, 2011

Year in Review: Liberia's 2011 Election

Missionary Helen Roberts-Evans shares the story of the
2011 elections in Liberia
(photo by GBGM Communications) 
On October 11, 2011, Liberians went to the polls to vote for their representatives, senators, and president.  There were 16 presidential candidates. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of the Unity Party received the majority of the votes at 43.7 percent. The Congress for Democratic Change received 32.9 percent of the votes. In order to win the election, a candidate must have 50 percent plus 1 vote.  Since this did not happen, Liberians returned to the polls for a presidential run-off election on November 8, 2011.

On November 15th, after ballot boxes were collected from all over the Republic, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was announced the winner with over 90 percent of the votes. From my trips to visit rural schools, I can appreciate the challenge of reaching villages by canoe, on foot, and on dirt roads to deliver and collect ballots.

Less than half of the population is literate, so the candidates’ photographs are on the ballots. Voters marked the candidates of their choice. The Liberia Annual Conference supports the Liberian Government’s efforts to reach Liberian children, youth, and adults with education in order to create a literate society.

During the June 2011 dedication of the community school building in Boegeezay, Rivercess County, I thanked President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her commitment to education in Liberia.

I also reminded her of her quote, “You know, if we get the resources, the technology, the manpower, we can fix the streets in six months. But we have the problem of a value system that has been destroyed- where violence, the dishonesty, the dependency is what has characterized our nation over the past twenty years.  That is the more difficult problem. We’re going to have to start at the elementary school level teaching the children ethics, morality, values.” ("After the Warlords," by Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, March 27, 2006)

President, in blue, beside Rev. Erlene Thompson, First UMC
(photo courtesy of Helen Roberts-Evans)
The school in Boegeezay is one of the schools built by our Community Development Program funded by the Central United Methodist Church of Oslo, Norway. In the photo, the President is seated next to her pastor, Rev. Erlene Thompson, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Monrovia. We are truly part of a connectional and caring church.

Thank for your prayers and support.
Helen Roberts-Evans

Read more about the missionary work on the bio page of Helen Roberts-Evans

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

UMCOR Academy

Church and Community Worker, missionary Dwaine Morgan
shares how a seed of hope can grow into God's Spirit.
(photo courtesy of Dwaine Morgan)

Several things registered with me when I attended the UMCOR Relief Network Academy at Sager Brown in Louisiana.

One was the variety of ministries performed by the cooperating depots in the Relief Network. No two serve God in quite the same way.

Another was that many of the relief centers seemed to begin with a vision of a few people (an individual, a handful of people, a church). Someone planted the mustard seed of faith, watered it carefully, waited for God to work, and a mighty ministry sprouted forth. Isn’t that the way that God’s Spirit is often manifested?..

Our conference pickup in October netted the largest load of gifts that we have received since the special emphasis on Haiti two years ago. Among the gifts are more than 1,000 AGAPE Children’s Christmas Boxes (with more coming each week) that are awaiting inventory at our Center. Last week I sent out a call to those who are on my “emergency work crew” list to catalog the boxes so that we can get off to an early start on preparation for our next Armenian shipment.

We have already sent relief supplies estimated at $585,145 to UMCOR, to Armenia, or to local ministries this year and that will probably be very close to our final total for 2011. By the end of the year we should also reach a milestone of sorts as we host our 400th work group.

I can never adequately express my appreciation for the exacting work of the volunteer teams. Without them we simply cannot provide the assistance that is needed by so many people around the world.

Learn more about the missionary work from the bio of Dwaine Morgan

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Christmas Message from Children

Hannah Hanson, on the left, Mission Intern, advocates for justice.
(photo courtesy of Hannah Hanson)

As I walked into the Haitian revival service, it reminded me of some of the services I miss form my time in other countries. So it may have been my first time in an all Creole environment, but it was still familiar.

It was a special children's service and just so genuine and sweet I truly was honored to be there. The pastor wanted me to introduce Justice for Our Neighbors, because our new Lakeland clinic will be able to serve people from the congregation. 

The pastor also wanted to take part in "A Wish for the Holidays: That all Families Be Able to Stay Together." (A project of We Belong Together.) So after the service I went back with all the children and we talked some about parents in other countries and deportation. Then they wrote to President Obama and Congress. It was amazing to me how much a connection the children got and how well the ones with parents still in Haiti took it.

So I wanted to share some letters with you:

Mom is in Haiti. I want my mom to be with me. 

My Christmas present is to stop deporting families.
For more of the children's letters, read Hannah Hanson's blog.

To learn more about the Mission Intern, link to the missionary bio of Hannah Hanson.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Go and Tell!

Rev. Krista Givens, left, met with young people at the California-Pacific Annual Conference.
(photo courtesy of Krista Givens)

This season, we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, God with us! As we celebrate Gods' presence among us, the incarnation of our Lord, we are charged with spreading the Good News. "Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born!" we sing, but many of us would like to be silent. After the busy-ness of Christmas is over many of us would like to climb into the protective shells of our beds, pull the covers up over our heads and hibernate until Easter. But God calls us to be 'messengers.' That means we GO and TELL!

But, we should be relieved to know, we are not the only messengers proclaiming the glory of God! Gods' amazing work is everywhere! In the ruins of Jerusalem, in the eyes of all nations, to the ends of the earth. Let us proclaim the love of God to the world, and as we do, may we be witness to the world proclaiming Gods' glory to us!

i went to the top of the world
to offer up my prayer.
i came with a collection
of concerns and worries
problems and everyday pains
i went to the top of the world to pray
and instead the world prayed for me.

i heard it in the wind
    pounding in my right ear
    and a gentle guitarsong whistling in my left.
i heard it in the language of the crickets,
    calling and answering from either side of the path.
i heard it in each footstep that followed me,
    or was I following them?
i heard it in the passing of the cars on the highway.
i heard it in the silent tears of strangers.

Rev. Givens writes about God's amazing work.
(photo courtesy of Krista Givens)
i went to the top of the world to pray
and instead,
the world prayed for me.

To read more of Rev. Krista Givens' writings, link to her blog at Clergy Freak.

Learn more about the missionary work at the bio page of Krista Givens.

View the 10-Fold video to learn why there is a missionary in Germany.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Is About Giving

Kim Cruz, son of missionary Ken Cruz, remembers what Christmas is all about.
(photo courtesy of Ken Cruz)

Without any signs of delaying, Christmas is poised to barrel its way into our busy lives once again. For many, the time of year has come to mean the accumulation of material possessions. And yet, so little of our Christmas cheer transcends the shiny boxes under our Christmas trees. This year, I realized that God epitomized the greatest form of generosity by giving us Jesus. Yet modern day presents have wrapped and confined our gifts into shallow conceptions when they can be so much more.

By Christmas, I will have finished my undergraduate degree in Development Studies. Had it not been for your unselfishness, your gifts, I would not have been able to cultivate the gifts that God has given me. I know that many people in the world are not as fortunate. Many have yet to experience the deep and meaningful gifts that God has in store for them. This is why I plan on pursuing a job in the area of rural development.

Just as you have given to me, I plan on giving to others in order to continue the cycle of generosity that God inspired. Just as you have given to me, I plan on giving onto others. Indeed Christmas is about giving, and as it draws near, I am reminded of those that have given, and those that have yet to experience the deep and meaningful gifts that God has in store for each and every one of us.

A very warm thank you. Merry Christmas.

Kim's father is a missionary serving in Cambodia. Learn more by linking to a bio of Kennedy Cruz.

Read about the Community Health and Agricultural Development (CHAD) ministry in Cambodia, by linking to the CHAD Cambodia blog.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World AIDS Day: Youth Speak Out

Global Justice Volunteers Africa participants wrote reflections on HIV and AIDS after their experiences volunteering with HIV/AIDs organizations in Kenya. 
Here are prayers, letters, and poems from the volunteers' experiences.

Pauline Kome Odinga, a United Methodist Global Justice
Volunteer, advocates for women's rights and social justice.
(photo by Ake Ble Leon Nathan)


Youth and Young Adults,

I know we are discriminated against, but this is the great moment in the Lord God has given us. 

Let us defend women's rights and defend social injustice all over the world.

I love you all wherever you are. Amen.

Pauline Kome Odinga, Democratic Republic of Congo

Madira Bwaza, Global Justice Volunteer,
leads Bible study. (photo by Gabriel G. Mungai) 


Who am I?
I'm the god and king of the earth.
People fear me though they don't see me physically
And talk about me in every gathering
I break apart families and cause injustices in communities
Leaving orphans and other vulnerable people
Because I am the boss.

I make the fat become slim
I fear no person, even rich, poor, strong, weak
Educated, uneducated, and people of high integrity obey me
Regardless of their position and religion
Even the devil fears me too because my weapon is strong.

I make people suffer in all sorts of lives.
I am tough but nobody can see me
and I make you more beautiful and handsome to spread me.
I feed on blood that fights against other diseases in the body.

Hahaaa! I only obey God.
If you keep far from me, I will keep a distance
But if you come in contact with me, I will deal with you and make you die.

Take care.
AIDS is real.

Madira Bwaza, Uganda

Youth and Young Adults,

This is not the time for crying or weeping but the right moment to raise up our minds because of building a nice and wonderful future.

When we hear from the TV and radios and some friends, we suffer ourselves from injustice, violence, discrimination, and many other issues in the world. We feel sad and disappointed, but this is the moment to defend our right to basic education, to speak, to employment, and to many other opportunities. By the help of God, we are conquerors and winners.

Mwilambwe Shabanza Cadet, Democratic Republic of Congo