Though the pomp and pageantry that usually marked the United Methodist Student Day in Liberia was missing due to the Ebola crisis, the Stephen Trowen Nagbe United Methodist Church celebrated the day with the “Physically Challenged” leading the liturgical part of the Sunday service. Speaking to the congregation from his braille, Joshua Shadra, who is Blind, of the First UMC called on worshipers to always hope in tomorrow. He said the desire to see what tomorrow will bring is what keeps people alive.
Using the story of the “woman with the issue of blood…” Bro. Shadra said she met
Jesus Christ because she did not give up on life. “She was always hoping that one day she would encounter the right doctor and that doctor was Jesus Christ,” the Physically Challenged preacher man asserted. Narrating his own life story of how he became blind, Bro Shadra said he did not give up on life, but always hoping for the day that he would serve humanity. “Preaching to you on this unique occasion, the UM Students Day, I want you to know that my hope for this day and days to come will not be a waste,” he concluded.
The “Physically Challenged” included the blind and the deaf read the scriptures while another blind group sang. Their involvement in the celebration added different flavor to the UM Students Day unlike previous celebrations.
According to the senior pastor of the church, Rev. Dr. Matthew A. Jaiah, the authorities of the S. T. Nagbe UMC have decided to provide the “Physically Challenged” with the opportunity of experiencing their human fullness by leading the worship service. “We want them to feel a part of us in this church, not as helpless individuals who cannot play any important role in the church,” Rev. Jaiah said.
The UMC Liberia clergyman indicated that UM Students Day was part of the S. T. Nagbe UMC annual activities and as such his church was celebrating the day amidst the closure of schools due to the Ebola crisis. He also said funds generated from the UM Students Day is used to support the “Physically Challenged” individuals who are the members of the church and then those who are around Monrovia. “The S. T. UMC provides monthly food package for all the “Physically Challenged” within Monrovia and its environs,” he added. The rest is usually sent to the UMC Liberia Department of General Education and Ministry.
When contacted, the Director of the Department of General Education and Ministry, Helen Evans-Roberts, beside bring the students together to celebrate the day, local churches are expected to lift offerings in honor of the UM Students Day. As to whether that was done, the Education Boss said she was not sure whether churches lifted offerings as required by the Book of Discipline. At the First UMC in Monrovia, the Associate Pastor, Rev. Dr. Julius Y.Z.K. Williams said UM Students Day was not on his church agenda due to the Ebola crisis. The Principal of the Ganta United Methodist School, Roger Domah also said the Miller McAllister UMC did not mention the UM Students Day, neither was there offering lifted.
In the last five years, the United Methodist Students Day always brought UM students together either in Ganta, Gbarnga, or Buchanan for the celebration. The day has been hampered in Liberia due to the Ebola crisis.