Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Teaching and leaving "Phoebe" in Liberia

Cheryl D. Naumann giving a copy of "In the Footsteps of Phoebe" to The Revd. Amos Bolay, President of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia

Teaching Liberian deaconess students in Monrovia, Liberia.

From February 21 to March 5, 2014, I had the privilege of journeying to and from Monrovia, Liberia, at the invitation of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) Office of International Mission, to assist in teaching Lutheranism 101 to deaconess students of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia (ELCL), an African church body that just became a partner church of the LCMS at its synod convention in the summer of 2013.

This course in Monrovia was the second phase of deaconess training in Liberia organized under the directorship of Deaconess Grace Rao (Director of Deaconess Ministry, LCMS Office of International Mission), with whom I traveled to Africa. 

Our ten students came from all over Liberia, from five different tribes with five different languages, so the common language of instruction is English, which they all know as their second language. The two women that came the furthest traveled three nights and two days; one of them with her three month old baby!  Every day they were eager to learn.  We started at 7:30 a.m. and finished between 4 and 6 p.m. (even having class on Saturday).  We had to insist that they took breaks during the day and their whole lunch hour because when they finished lunch they would be back in their seats waiting for class to start again.

After our last day of teaching, ELCL President Rev. Amos Bolay took us to see the Liberian Lutheran Malaria Initiative office.  I thought of Bishop David Stechholz of the LCMS English District while standing in the office, since the Bishop is on the LCMS committee for this initiative and the English District has made such an effort to support the Malaria initiative.  It was very moving to see what a huge effect the LCMS is having in this part of the world that so desperately needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the hand of mercy that is simultaneously provided through the love of Jesus Christ.  What a privilege we have to partner with and serve the people of Liberia in so many ways!

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