Recalling Liberia

Long time readers will know that I have had a love for the people of Liberia for many years. In fact, I have been involved with Liberia longer than I have been writing for Defending Contending. The older I become, it seems the faster the years go.

Nine years ago, I was recovering from a debilitating illness while pastoring in England. I was contacted by a man who later proved to be a scammer. However, it was not until I had flown from England to the steaming jungles of West Africa that I realized that I was in a very dangerous situation. Still, the Lord showed His grace and love and protection. During that trip, I was brought to love these Africans who were, and still are, in need of a Savior.

Many of you also know that our family moved to Liberia in 2012 only to have to return six months later. It was supposed to be a permanent trip, but one of my daughters and I contracted a severe case of malaria. I actually contracted malaria and typhoid two different times in less than three months.

During the intervening years since our return, I often wonder what our lives would be like had we been able to remain. We could have been there during the outbreak of Ebola which claimed the lives of several thousand including some Christian brothers and sisters that we personally knew. We could have been there for the first baptisms that took place in the villages of Foloblai and Tamayta where we started two mission works. We could have been there when Cyrus Smith began his first work in the village of Dentaa. We could have been there when the first Biblical marriages took place. There are many things we could have seen and been involved with.

However, today the work that God graciously, and in His sovereignty, only allowed us to plant seeds for continues to flourish and grow without the white missionary. The Bible Institute of Church Ministries still continues to train jungle pastors to teach the people of their village churches. Baptisms continue to take place as testimony is shared of the saving grace of God. Lives are still being changed. Another church plant is getting ready to take place under the guidance of Cyrus Smith.

The short time in Liberia still makes a difference in our lives today. We are thankful for every experience — the dangers, the lack of food and provisions at times, the fellowship of fellow missionaries who had no idea what we had or didn’t have, the prayers of family and friends through the dark nights when death was so close at hand, the village chief (Cyrus Smith) who surrendered all and became my Timothy, but most of all, the privilege of having served the Lord in a country where so many still need the Lord.

My prayer is that you will enjoy these pictures. They are not the best quality, but they represent a work that grows despite all the opposition. They represent part of my heart, but more importantly, these pictures show a Church and Bible Institute growing to the glory of God.

Should We Pray for ISIS?

The following post from Russell Moore can be read in full at The Gospel Coalition. These are some great thoughts about the juxtaposition of justice and justification.

“Over the weekend many of us watched with horror and heartbreak as reports of terrorism came from Paris. At least 120 people were killed in what appears to be a coordinated operation by the Islamic State (ISIS), a terror organization that has murdered thousands of innocent people over the last year, including many Christians.

ISIS is one of the clearest embodiments of persecution and evil that we in the West have seen in many years. Their very existence is a commitment to wiping out political and cultural opposition through violence. They prey relentlessly on the innocent, including children. There’s no question that ISIS is a menace that must be engaged through just war.

But is justice the only thing that Christians should pray for when it comes to ISIS? Should we pray that our military, in the words of singer Toby Keith, “light up their world like the Fourth of July”? Or should we pray that, as a friend of mine posted on social media, there would be a Saul among those ISIS militants, whose salvation might turn the Arab world upside down with the gospel?

These are not contradictory prayers, and to each of them I say, “Amen.”

Continue reading here

Paul Washer – The Great Commission

Paul hits another one out of the park with this little sermon jam. It is well worth just under 7 minutes of your time to watch this video. May we be encouraged to continue moving forward for Christ instead of staying stagnant. As Paul exhorts in this video, let us live for Christ in such a way that we will have no regrets when we die.

Your Only Hope – Christ Alone!

Dr. Steve Lawson produces an amazing impromptu message on the gospel. Truly, this is the only Biblical gospel that can and must be preached in the world today for there is NO HOPE in anyone or anything else. Flee to Christ while there is yet time!

Thanksgiving Perspectives

This Thanksgiving Day, we are providing a post written by the Pilgrim from Thanksgiving 2009. So much has happened and changed in the world in the last 4 years, but there are also many things that have not. This is a reminder we should have in front of us every year.

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As we in America celebrate Thanksgiving, and all the great freedoms, advancements, and benefits that the exporting of Christianity to this land brought with it, let us not forget about those millions of other people who are trapped in the bondage of their nations who are held captive to false religions and the human wreckage that those false religions bring.

Becoming Last had a post containing some pictures which reminded me exactly how thankful we should be, and exactly how starkly different the continent of North America may have turned out had the light of Christianity not pierced the darkness that covered this land.

The pictures in the post came from a piece in the Sacramento Bee. I’ve included some of these sobering but needful reminders below.


Let us not go to our graves having done nothing to see the advancement of the gospel to the uttermost parts of the world, where the worship of idols and demons keeps millions, if not billions, of souls in bondage.

Still Carrying the Torch in Liberia

I thought I would share a very encouraging letter I received from one of the men whom I was able to train over the six months we spent in the jungles of Liberia, West Africa. The brother is Cyrus Smith. He receives no regular funding but he remains faithful. This letter and accompanying picture will allow you to see what the Lord has used this godly man to accomplish. Please read and remember to keep this brother in prayer.

By way of further explanation, when God called this man to ministry, he was the town chief of one of the jungle villages. It was a position that provided income and a good status. When we moved into town for my health, he resigned everything to join us for continued nightly teaching. The Lord continues to bless this man for his faithfulness.

PS – I will add appropriate comments as necessary.

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Hello father and mother in Christ, (a term of honor towards Violet and I)

I am very encouraged about the work in Dentaa and Beletanah. God is really blessing this work.Now I have about 40 to 50 people who have put their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. They are studying with me now and God himself has chosen a place for this work to get started before it can expand in other village. The village is Dentaa.

(Dentaa and Beletanah were the next villages we had targeted to begin a new work after starting the two missions in the villages of Foloblai and Tamayta. The Lord gave Cyrus a real burden to go here and begin the work as a missionary church planter out of the two works we began.)

This happen because the numbers of people from Dentaa are many so, I decided to move in along with the few people from Beletanah there. The people are encouraged. My wife, Orpah, takes care of the children class but in this picture she was not with me because of her pregnant condition. The distant from Beletanah to Dentaa is about 30 minutes walk. We meet on every Wednesday evening, Saturday evening and Sunday morning for Bible study.

(This is a true sign of those who are interested in God’s Word. They will have a hunger to learn and to be taught the truth of Scripture. This is true whether in Liberia, England, or America.)

The elders of Dentaa have given us (2) acres of land on the car road that is leading in this village. It is a good place and I thank God for that. I have not introduced offering business in this ministry until baptism can be done but I need your advice. I thank God for the motorcycle as it makes the work effective.

(The only “church” that has been in this area is Roman Catholic. This brother recognizes from the Word of God that Catholicism is based on heresy from the teaching we were able to do with him. The elders giving up land for free is a very encouraging sign that the church has been recognized as being a permanent establishment in the community. To gain 2 acres right on the main road is an amazing blessing!)

My studies with the Bible school is coming on fine and I know God is in control. I am working with David Quinah in the Bible school matter in a possible way that this ministry B.I.C.M. (Bible Institute of Church Ministries) should grow.

(This is the Bible Institute we were able to establish while in Liberia. Each month they train 30-40 pastors and church leaders in the truth of Scripture. For the last fourteen months since we left, these men have continued with no promises of support. Many of them walk from 3 hours to 1 day away in order to gain training not otherwise available.)

Please extend my greeting to your family and the church, I miss you a lot. I am adding a picture of some of the people in the new church from Dentaa and Beletanah.

In Christian love and grace.

Cyrus Smith
Church in Liberia