The Liberia Partner Summit of 2014, hosted by Nardin Park United Methodist Church in the Detroit, Michigan area opens Thursday, November 13.
Bunny Wolfe, a name known to many in connection to Liberia opens the 2014 Liberia Partner Summit with a call to solidarity. Recalling a message from a pastor friend in Liberia who said it has been months since he has shaken hands or hugged anyone in his congregation, Bunny called the Summit participants to adopt the new West African greeting of crossing hands over the heart as a non-contact way of greeting.
Hugs and handshakes turned to crossed hands in recognition of our friendship with Liberia.
The opening devotion by Rev. Kelly Crissman of Plowpoint Missions in North Carolina called the gathered participants to join together for Liberia. Using the Blessing of Aaron found in Numbers 6:22-26, Rev. Crissman blessed the gathering saying:
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you.
The Lord life up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Realizing that we can share the blessing the group built upon the prayer by praying together:
The Lord bless Liberia and keep Liberia.
The Lord make his face to shine upon Liberia, and be gracious to Liberia.
The Lord lift up his countenance upon Liberia, and give Liberia peace.
Rev. Patrick Friday, director of In Mission Together spoke to the group about a new concept of mission involvement that is now evolving: Short term needs- based-relief is moving to Long term asset-based development.
Relationships are driving this new movement. The new 50/50 Partnership is dedicated to an equal relationship between the groups that are designed to benefit both partners.
This new movement is calling us to “move from writing a check to building a relationship.” This statement from a video shown to the Summit participants reminded the group of our deepening relationships with Liberia and the LAC.
The cornerstone of the 50/50 Partnership is the Partnership Covenant.
Moving around the room Rev. Friday calls on participants to read from the Partnership Covenant. Responding to his question of “What do you see as important in this statement?” Responses are: “Healthy relationships,” “collaborative partnership,” “sacred covenant.”
A comment from the crowd, “Money no longer has all the power.” Rev. Friday asked the group if partnership is no longer about money what is the partnership about? “Building relationships.”
Bishop Innis responded to the presentation with “The imperative for the church is teaching and learning together.” Sharing an example of the African bishops of the UMC banding together to raise money in Africa to build a building on the campus of Africa University Bishop Innis reminded the gathering of power of indigenous leadership.
The website for In Mission Together is simple: www.inmissiontogether.org
Dr. Olusimbo Ige of Global Health and the project manager of Imagine No More Malaria reminded the attendees about the danger of Ebola by stating that more people have died of the flu in the United States this year than have died of Ebola.
She shared information from the World Health Organization that has been used to promote health and awareness of Ebola in Liberia and West Africa. With a voice of authority and love Dr. Ige spoke of progress in sharing the information throughout Liberia.
Rev. Jack Amick, Assistant General Secretary for UMCOR International Disaster
Response shared with the Liberia Partner Summit the work of UMCOR in addressing the Ebola disaster. Saying thank you to all United Methodists who have continued to contribute funds to the ongoing work of UMCOR, Rev. Amick shared a long list of funds, training events, and personal protective equipment delivered to Liberia.
Rev. Amick closed his session with prayer calling on God’s compassion, healing and presence for those affected in Liberia.
Bunny Wolfe shared Helen Roberts-Evans presentation about the United Methodist School System in Liberia. Sis. Helen Roberts-Evans, Director of Education for the LAC has returned to Liberia just recently and was unable to attend the Summit. After pictures of schools, children and classrooms, Director Roberts-Evans calls on the Summit and friends of Liberia to support scholarship opportunities for children. One hundred seventy-five dollars will provide a year’s worth of education for a child in Liberia.
As the Ebola virus loosens its grip on Liberia, Director Roberts-Evans presentation shared the impact of Ebola on everyday life. Recognizing that while hand washing is stated as mandatory for the nation most people in Liberia do not have access to water.
School leaders have been active in distributing sanitation buckets in their communities.
A conversation with Director Roberts-Evans utilizing Skype allowed the Summit attendees to have a direct conversation.
Joining Sis. Helen in the conversation from Liberia were Mary Zigbuo and Rev. Priscilla Jaiah. All three stated that they were very glad to be able to be back in Liberia after a few months of absence due to the Ebola outbreak.
In response to a question from a Summit participant in Detroit about availability of Liberia textbooks for schools, Sis Helen reminded the group that text books are still needed for all schools. UM Churches can always partner with Liberian schools through the Advance Specials.
Anticipating an eventual re-opening of the schools, Sis Helen said the schools need to have routine maintenance performed. Since the absence of students routine maintenance has been
The last payment of salary to teachers was at the end of June 2014. “We would
like to be able to support our teachers.”
A concern being addressed is how to move beyond just Ebola prevention to help communities deal with those who have either had family members die due to Ebola or have recovered themselves. A discussion at the Connectional Ministries Office of the LAC covered ideas of how to provide education for communities to remain Ebola free.
Bishop Innis expressed appreciation to these three missionaries to return to Liberia to take care of the people.
Dr. Ige shared with the Summit that all five UM hospitals/clinics in Liberia are open and receiving patients. Here are some statistics:
- Ganta UM Hospital 233 staff / 2800 Average patients per month
- Diecke UM Clinic 34/252
- George Z Dean Memorial UM Clinic 6/116
- John Dean Town UM Clinic 7 / 66
- Weala UM Clinic 12 / 65
The Health Board will concentrate our strategic efforts towards financial strength and development, quality of care, and providing health care services and programs.
Dr. Charles Boayue shared a letter from Victor Taryar.
Dr. Boayue reminded the attendees of the powerful presence mission hospitals have in their communities. Relating a story of his own birth at Ganta UM Hospital years ago, Bro. Charles thanked the hospital for bringing him into the world and for subsequently saving his mother’s life after a car accident on the way home.
“The hospital is a witness to our connectional system bringing healing and salvation to babies, mothers and families.”