By Varney K. Sirleaf
The Guest Speaker of the Liberia Council of Churches Bishop Dr. Chibuzo Raphael Opoko has warned Liberians not to revert to the past.
Bishop Opoko said that Liberians should not go back to war never again. He said going back to the old days will be a blow to the Liberia Council of Churches national plan to fight against hunger and poverty.
“We all know that war increases hunger and poverty and bring total destruction upon a nation something the church in Liberia is fighting against”, he stated.
He further stated Liberia has 16 tribal groupings which he said if one is eliminated; the country can no longer be called Liberia because you have eliminated one of your members that made you Liberia.
Bishop Opoko spoke on Sunday during an interview with journalists after the worship service at the New Water in the Desert Assembly in Brewerville where he commended the Council of Churches for the hard work and step taken towards the elimination of hunger and poverty within Liberia.
He commended the church for its efforts to come up with a robust program at the national level on the first against hunger and poverty stating that hunger and poverty are part of justice and peace and that there will be no peace when were not prospering and being in good health.
“I must commend the Liberian Council of Churches (LCC) for coming up with this robust programme at the national level and also utilizing the opportunity of the 29th General Assembly to focus on the fight against hunger and poverty in the land. The LCC President and all the organizers are here well appreciated for this outstanding contribution to human and national development”, the Bishop said in his addressed.
He further stated that the LCC concerns are also in line with the World Council of Churches in addressing the issues of hunger and poverty which is a pilgrimage of justice and peace.
He emphasize that the church must go beyond turning people to objects of charity in their various intervention programs in hunger and poverty, but the church must evolve a sustainable and transformative livelihood intervention projects to target individuals and groups within their community spaces through micro credit system among many small but beautiful initiatives.
“The church must like our lord and Saviour Jesus Christ fulfill the biblical injunction to be in solidarity with the poor, the needy and the hungry including the oppressed. Our faith must be relevant to all the facets of the human life and society. Any faith in Christ that is not relevant to the holistic needs of the society equals to fatality. Any lack of relevance would mean complacency and the keeping of silence in the face of devastating impact of hunger and poverty that has ravished millions of people especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia”, he stated.
He challenged the church to be silent no more, must be awake and rise up in solidarity with the poor, must become responsive to the issues of hunger and poverty in every given space where issues of justice must not be unattended by the church.
The Methodist Bishop said the gulf between the haves and have not’s is increasingly growing in significant proportion something which prompted him to ask if we need research from the Food and Agricultural Organization before we see the grave impact of hunger and poverty in the land?
He concluded by calling on the church to empower and encourage members to live responsibly within their spaces to avoid exacerbating livelihood that promote climatic change such as cutting of trees for firewood without replanting them among others.
“The church must work assiduously against conflicts and wars that turn people to refuges in their own land and destroy lives and properties including the environment. The church must condemn nation and states who use starvation as a weapon of war as such devastating war strategies leave women and children helpless and hapless. The church must promote the spirit of brotherhood that cares for each other. How many members see their fellow members who come to church without shoes and do something when they have so many pairs of shoes they may never wear in a year? What about giving out some of our many dresses that we may never wear in a year to fellow members who come to church Sunday after Sunday with the same dress”?
He said the church must become a caring community of believers where members share with other members and other people in the village what they lack; where the poor must be given access to food, clothing, shelter and job as well as given a voice in the church.
Bishop Dr. Chibuzo Raphael Opoko, TFG, JP, DOB, is the Secretary of Conference, Methodist Church of Nigeria and an Executive Committee member of the World Council of Churches (WCC).