Sunday, August 24, 2008

Liberian Connection

At Whipple Avenue Baptist Church we are enjoying the ministry of Pastor Jesse W. Quapourlee from Monrovia, Liberia.

Liberia has suffered many difficult things in recent history. A fourteen year civil war claimed the lives of about 250,000 people out of a total population of less than four million. That war only ended in 2003. The country suffers from an overall lack of infrastructure and industry. Unemployment is 85%. Most Liberians live on less than $2.00 (US) a day. The war left many orphans and widows who have very limited means.

Brother Jesse is the founding pastor the New Testament Baptist Church near Monrovia. This evangelistic church has grown from 10 members in 2003 to 70 members today with a weekly attendance of about 200. NTBC is doing what it can to help with the education of orphans and the relief of widows and orphans. They have also begun church plants in two other communities - Bong Mines 200 miles away and District No. 7 about 75 miles away.

Brother Jesse's preaching is very refreshing to me. He has a simple expository approach to preaching that is clear and compelling. He demonstrates a thorough knowledge the Bible, with large portions committed to memory. Part of this is due to growing up in the home of a pastor and hearing these things from his childhood. But I admire the way he has equipped himself with education and study over a period of time when he was often on the run or in hiding because of the war that raged around him.

Listening to him preach is a delight. English is taught in Liberian schools, but it is not a native dialect. Consequently Jesse's choice of words is sometimes unexpected. This is a blessing because it is clear that he is not just repeating cliches - but expressing things that he has thought about and brought into English for us.

Jesse preaches with authority. He knows what the Bible says and he proclaims it boldly. He uses situations that he has faced in Liberia to illustrate his points and makes it very clear that the sins and struggles of our country are the same as in Liberia. But beyond that, the salvation and spiritual work of the Holy Spirit are the same there as here. The same Holy Spirit uses the same word of God to produce the same fruit in lives all around the world and in very different cultures.

It is easy for me as an American to think paternalistically about the Liberian Christians. In my nationalism I tend to think that we are more sophisticated, educated, cultured, and technologically advanced than anybody - let alone a country that has had the problems Liberia has faced.

Jesse shows that to be baloney!

We are brothers and sisters in Christ. In many ways we have it easy compared to the difficulties they have faced and are facing, BUT they are every bit as spiritual, complex, inventive, educated, equipped, and devoted as we are! In many ways they have the spiritual advantage over us.

Jesse is about 36 years old and has a small build. When he came out of the gate area at the airport I had to look twice because he could be mistaken for a young teen at first glance. But Jesse W. Quapourlee is really a hero of the faith. He is facing tremendous difficulties and doing amazing things in the service of our Lord. He is putting himself on the line everyday for the cause of Christ. He deserves our respect, our prayers and our considered support in his work!

Come hear him preach Monday through Wednesday (8/25-8/27) at 6:30 PM at Whipple Avenue Baptist Church. Call 330-477-5069 for more information.

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