My fellow Liberians, on behalf of the Liberia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, I wish you a very Happy New Year! We are grateful to God for allowing us to enter 2013 by His Power, Love and Grace. We praise God for our leaders and we thank all who lead in the religious, political, business, educational, family and other areas of our society for the sacrifices they continue to make, even though there are mountains of challenges in our rebuilding and reconciling efforts. We commend the international community for their role in providing security and peace. Our army, police and other security agencies deserve our love and thanks for keeping peace in 2012.
When a new year begins, it is the practice of many to make resolutions that will overcome negative qualities or promote more positive ones. This year, I call on all Liberians to join me in making a resolution that we can all commit ourselves to and hold each other accountable to implement. The resolution I call on all Liberians to declare is that, In 2013, We Will Give More And Give Our Best To The Country We Call, “Mama Liberia.” In Acts 20:35, Paul wrote these words when he encouraged believers to be generous to one another: “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” One of the reasons why it is more blessed to give than to receive is stated in II Corinthians 9:6-7 when Paul wrote, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
A popular statement among many Liberians when describing the jobs they hold is, “This is not my Pa’s farm.” This statement implies a low level of responsibility to our jobs and very little obligation to accomplish the duties we have been given. As a result, many Liberian civil servants, politicians and technocrats take weeks to accomplish what they could achieve in one day. They usually expect their clients and constituents to bribe them before they even perform their responsibilities. Moreover, they often view their positions as possessions to be exploited for personal benefits without consideration of the public interest. They tend to ignore the fact that giving one’s best to his or her country is mandatory and ordained by God. As a great man, Arthur Ashe once said, “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.”
We are a people noted for saying a lot about how Liberia should be the pacesetter for national growth and development in Africa by virtue of being the oldest republic on the Continent. But the irony is that we are fond of talking too much, yet we do little or nothing to make our expectation a reality.
Liberia is a precious gift from God to all of us. Since the founding of this great nation, we have never experienced droughts. Year after year, “Mama Liberia” has provided us with foods of all kind, including the fruits we pick from the trees, the roots we dig up and the “once” bountiful harvests of rice, our staple food. It is important to remember that God made Adam and Eve and told them to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) God also gave seeds, plants, trees and the fruits of the trees as plants. Through this action, God made Adam and Eve stewards of the earth and managers of creation. In the same way, God gave us this beautiful country, Liberia, and made us stewards of the land and managers of its resources. God therefore requires that we become more responsible managers by becoming honest and committed givers of our services to the country and not just exploiters of its wealth for selfish ends.
As stewards and managers, we do not own this country. Liberia belongs to God and we have been placed here as tenants. Since we are stewards and tenants, we are responsible to love and care for Liberia, as well as be ready to give account of our stewardship of how we are maintaining and preserving this beloved country of ours. David reminds us about God’s ownership in Psalm 50:10-12, “All the animals in the forest are mine and the cattle on a thousand hills. If I were hungry, I would not ask you for food, for the world and everything in it are mine.” Since God has given Liberia to us, He expects us to develop an attitude of gratitude through giving back to Liberia in terms of commendable stewardship and leadership.
As an ongoing generational process, Mama Liberia continues to bestow upon us the gifts of good education, international exposure, special leadership skills and abilities, economic potentials, etc., for nation building. It is therefore an imperative that we give these valuable gifts back to Mother Liberia in order to make her the truly great nation she ought to be in Africa and the world. And despite all of the odds, I fervently believe we can make it based upon our innate endowment as a people with kind and merciful hearts, and noted for extravagant and radical hospitality.
My fellow Liberians, let us agree this year to give back to Liberia than before. Our God loves us so much “that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God has given us His highest, so we must also give God our best through making “Mama Liberia” the best she can be. We must love Liberia. We must respect Liberia. We must work hard together to develop it by doing away with the undermining spirits within us. However, it is still required of every Liberian to speak out in truth on issues affecting the nation, and to speak this truth in the spirit of calmness and gentleness without malice and hostility. Liberia needs improved roads, development in all the counties, better schools, enhanced technology, improved medical facilities, cleaner drinking water, and healthy and abundant food for the entire nation. We must give to make Liberia better because giving is an act of human kindness and a sign of our maturity.
We will be able to offer more to Liberia if we become sincere, accountable, and exhibit greater loyalty for our nation. Through the education we have received, we must promote Liberia’s image abroad based on the economic, political and social achievements right here at home. Many nations in Africa are advancing in socio-economic growth, thereby experiencing rapid development and transformation. Hence, we would be committing a moral error of great consequence if we should continue to make Liberia to lag behind. Let us therefore put aside selfish interests and put the national interest ahead. Let us highlight patriotism and do away with individualism. Let us stress the greater good and minimize the personal good. Let us put Liberia first rather than our personal needs foremost.
In order to realize these goals of giving more to Liberia to make her better, every segment of society must do its part. Church leaders and Christians must set commendable examples of good and redemptive leadership. Jesus showed us the highest form of Love when he said in John 15:3, “Greater Love has no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” If we love Liberia, we must be ready to offer our best to make Liberia better. I urge those of other faith communities to live according to their values and virtues. Government officials, civil servants, academics, those in the private sector, students, working people are all encouraged to collaborate in this resolution of giving back to Liberia by becoming honest advisers, positive motivators, and trusted inspirers of the entire nation. Political leaders of all persuasions can dedicate themselves to their leadership calling by being faithful stewards to the nation that has made us who were are. We must build each other up and be considerate to one another.
My Liberian brothers and sisters, God has been kind to us by giving us another year. Let us live 2013 in a new and different way by committing to a resolution that we give Liberia more than we have done in the past. Let us begin by living in peace and love with one another, by celebrating Liberia as a valuable gift from God, and remembering that, because God has given us this land to manage well, we are managers who will give account to God. When we accept and become faithful to this resolution, we will build a country where we can minimize poverty, increase the literacy rate, develop every county, and create a nation that will be a Light to the world and leave future generations a beautiful country. Let us continue to challenge and encourage our youthful population so that we will empower them to prepare for nation building. If Liberia becomes our priority in our call to duty, God will look upon us with favor and abundantly provide our needs.
Finally, we wish to sincerely commend the leadership of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for the daunting sacrifices her government continues to make in the rebuilding process of post-conflict Liberia. We encourage her to remain focus, unwavering and committed to the great task of nation building.
As we move into 2013, I pray that God will give us the willpower and ability to accept and implement this resolution to give more to make Liberia a great nation. God bless us all!