“The love of liberty brought us here” was the motto the freed American and Caribbean slaves who founded modern Liberia. Unfortunately Liberia, “the land of the free” was largely destroyed in last decades by civil war (1989-1996 and 2002-2003).
Liberia was founded in 1822 by repatriated African American slaves. This West African nation had relative calm until 1980 when food riots sparked an overthrow and eventual civil war. With prayer and action the original vision of a free and prosperous Liberia can be restored.
Muslims in the Northwest
Liberia is a religiously and ethnically diverse country. Religiously, about 40% of the population is Christian, another 40% are animist and 20% are Muslim, primarily in the Northwest. It is made up of sixteen principal tribes and 5% referred to as Americo-Liberians. The predominately Muslim tribes are the Mandingo, Vai, Gbandi, and Mende. In Monrovia, the capital, many Muslims are from other countries. The Muslim presence is highly visible with many mosques, Islamic schools, and people dressed in the traditional robes and head-dress. Islam is growing in Liberia.
Many Liberian Christians know little or next to nothing about Islam. Some have bitterness towards Muslims because of the recent civil war. Charles Taylor’s government (1997-2003) encouraged Islamic practices. To further complicate matters, the current UN peace keeping force is dominated by Muslims. Mosques are being built and renovated around the country. Some of the visiting peace keepers have had children with Liberians and those children are automatically considered to be Muslims.
The country is under-developed. The ethnic or inter-tribal struggles which led to civil war are still active. The church is in its embryonic stages, both numerically and qualitatively. Paganism is at an all time high.
“To maintain Christianity … as an influence in Liberia society, the Liberian Christian community has to do a better job in attending to the needs of the poor, fighting against the systemic corrupt practices in government, condemning ritual killings, and above all fighting for economic and social justice for all. Failure to appropriately address these social ills will result in Islam filling the void and Christianity becoming the marginalised religion.” J. Patrick Flomo, The Perspective
Pray God’s vision for Liberia:
* Charles Taylor’s civil war (ending in 2003) always had religious undertones. Pray that God’s true message of peace can be proclaimed.
* A large number of foreign missionary groups work in the country. Pray that the seeds of truth they have sown will come to bear mighty trees giving hope and refuge to many.
* The Poro and Sande secret societies teach young men and women to seek “supernatural power”. Pray for those locked into these societies to be freed from the chains of darkness.
* The beginning and ending dates of Ramadan cause conflict every year. Pray that the conflict would instead turn to a time to present the Gospel. “All things are possible, only believe.”
* The churches are not prepared adequately to reach out to Muslims nor to train those who are seeking to become disciples. God’s heart for the lost must be the vision of all Christians in Liberia. Pray for practical training for Christians and for those coming to the faith.
Background on Liberia (World Factbook)
Settlement of freed slaves from the US in what is today Liberia began in 1822; by 1847, the Americo-Liberians were able to establish a republic. William TUBMAN, president from 1944-71, did much to promote foreign investment and to bridge the economic, social, and political gaps between the descendents of the original settlers and the inhabitants of the interior. In 1980, a military coup led by Samuel DOE ushered in a decade of authoritarian rule. In December 1989, Charles TAYLOR launched a rebellion against DOE’s regime that led to a prolonged civil war in which DOE himself was killed. A period of relative peace in 1997 allowed for elections that brought TAYLOR to power, but major fighting resumed in 2000. An August 2003, peace agreement ended the war and prompted the resignation of former president Charles TAYLOR, who was exiled to Nigeria. After two years of rule by a transitional government, democratic elections in late 2005 brought President Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF to power. The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) maintains a strong presence throughout the country but the security situation is still volatile and the process of rebuilding the social and economic structure of this war-torn country remains sluggish.
Economics of Liberia
Civil war and government mismanagement have destroyed much of Liberia’s economy, especially the infrastructure in and around the capital, Monrovia. Many businessmen have fled the country, taking capital and expertise with them. Some have returned, but many will not. Richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture, Liberia had been a producer and exporter of basic products – primarily raw timber and rubber. Rebuilding infrastructure and raising incomes will depend on generous financial and technical assistance from donor countries and foreign investment in key sectors, such as infrastructure and power generation.
Statistics for Liberia
Population: 3,887,886 (July 2012 est.) World Rank: 127
Life expectancy at birth: 57.41 years, World Rank: 194
Ethnic groups: Kpelle 20.3%, Bassa 13.4%, Grebo 10%, Gio 8%, Mano 7.9%, Kru 6%, Lorma 5.1%, Kissi 4.8%, Gola 4.4%, other 20.1%
Religions: Christian 85.6%, Muslim 12.2%, Traditional 0.6%, other 0.2%, none 1.4%
Languages: English 20% (official), some 20 ethnic group languages, of which a few can be written and are used in correspondence
Literacy: 60.8% – male: 64.8%, female: 56.8%
School Life Expectancy: 11 years