On yesterday (Thursday April 3, 2014), there was a front page banner headline in Stanley Seakor’s Analyst Newspaper titled: Big Intercession for Liberia, as Liberia Council of Churches announces National Fast and Prayer. The Analyst said the fast and prayer is being held under the theme, “Heal our Land Lord”. My gracious God! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
So there is a Council of Churches in this country? And they keep silent, with all that is going on in this country? We hardly hear about the Council anymore. For me, I had forgotten there ever was one.
After some thought, I cannot help but wonder if it is Philip Sandi’s God that, as the representative said, ‘is beating them so?’ We know the Philip Sandi story. But for the benefit of those who do not, at one time, Philip won the Secretary-general post of the Liberia Council of Churches through balloting. The post was not given to him because, ‘he had a temper’. The post is a sensitive one, and needed to be held by someone who is not temperamental. So why allow him to go through all the rudiments in the first place, knowing he has a temper? Find some way of disqualifying him in the preliminary stage. But he was allowed to go to elections, win, and then get denied the post. But let’s not dwell on that. This is not the issue at bar.
So it has to be Ebola, who like HIV, even worse than HIV as a matter of fact, is no respecter of persons, to wake the multitude conglomeration of religious leaders, (bishops, priests, pastors, reverends, deacons, etc.) we have in this country? Ohh, so they are afraid of contracting Ebola, so they call fast and prayer?
According to the release, the fast and prayer is to be held with a focus on hunger, pestilence, poverty, insecurity and the lack of love among the people of Liberia. Funny, the Council realizes this at the last minute, when but for God above; Ebola is on the verge of wiping us all out.
It is often said, nothing is the same anymore. Nothing could be further from the truth. With all going on in this country, claims and counter-claims of missing money, you say I say, you recorded me, the tape was greatly edited, extreme hunger in the midst of plenty, poor educational facilities, children fending for themselves in the streets, passing gay bill, and oh, I almost forgot, the 80 million roads project money, for which donors are hesitant to give another cent till proper accountability for the amount can be made, poor border protection, I could go on and on.
Sometimes it is sad, but you realize that there are individuals who do leave an indelible mark on the face of the earth. When some people die, you hear tributes such as, ‘We don’t know who will replace you’, and ‘Who will fill the void?’ They really mean it. Let’s take for example a case in point: the late Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis. This is one human being who is sorely missed, both by the church he led and Liberians in general. This is not to say he was not human; he was also not liked by many. Nevertheless, the late Archbishop was a driving force in Liberia’s fight for equality, justice and equitable distribution of wealth. When there was any problem affecting Liberians, even if it is a handful of them, he did his part. He spoke out without fear or favor. Had he been alive and well, trust me; he would have spoken out against many of the ills meted against people in our society.
For the Council of Churches to wait till this late day, before calling for fast and prayer for this nation, something that should have been done years ago is beyond me. The only plausible reason I can think of is that Ebola is a scare, can kill anybody and the Council is afraid of dying. Of course now, they are human beings. Though death is a necessary end, and the only way according to the Holy Bible we can see heaven, human beings are still afraid of dying. I am. But you have to understand now; nobody has been there and returned to give feedback as to what is actually obtaining on the other side, so of course we have fear of the unknown.
Why has the Council taken this long, so long to act? Is it that they are not personally affected by the trends of events in the country, so decide to play a blind eye or look the other way? If this is the case, I will pass on this parable I learned from my maternal grandmother: Our people say, if you hit nose, eye run water. So to think the events unfolding in this country has nothing to do with them, or as they said to the health workers association, their case is political, is, to say the least, a mistake. The Council of Churches is the group of people in charge of shepherding God’s flock, us now. To keep silent when all this is unfolding, and all of a sudden wake up one morning and say, let us fast and pray, is, in my eyes, makes me wonder if there is no motive.
I must commend the Council, however, for the text they chose: 2 Chronicle 7:13-14. To quote the verses from their release verbatim, God says, “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people; if my people who are called by My Name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, then I God will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” They could not have chosen a better text. It is an embodiment of everything that is going on in this country, plus more. Why did they keep silent all this while? My only confusion is whether or not Ebola had to rear its ugly head before they realize that their flock is gone astray and needs to be brought back into the fold.
It is reminiscence of the Mary Broh days at the Monrovia City Hall, when the City Council under her administration instituted a city ordinance: On the first Saturday in every month, residents and business people should clean up their homes, communities and places of business. Therefore, no business is to be opened before ten o’clock in the morning. To her credit, the day is still being observed today. What made me really embarrassed for us is that, if we have to wait till someone says to us, ‘clean your house; clean your business place, before we get it done, is a low down dirty shame. To say it is a shame in fact is an understatement.
It brings me back to the discussion under scrutiny. Does the Council have to wait for the Almighty God to send pestilence among His people, in this case Ebola, before they can wake up and realize this country is fast going back to whence we came, maybe even beyond that?
I will not say I am disappointed in the Council, because I am not, for the simple reason that all of us are human beings, liable to error. None of us is infallible.
The Council may say she does not want to get into politics; but let her not forget that politics existed from the days the world was made, in the Garden of Eden. It is politics that brought sin into the world. You are the ones who study the Bible more; you know it better than I do. If your argument is that you do not want it to be seen as the Council that wants to run the government, okay. But sometimes, many times in fact, you just cannot afford to stay silent. You must be able to speak up for the people you are called to serve. As they say, the leader is always the servant.
A period of fasting and prayer has been declared. I see this as a good sign, a wake-up call for the Council of Churches. It is not too late for us to make amends with our God, Who is always merciful. But my fervent plea to you is, let this not be the last. Let the Council be what we have always known it to be: the voice of the voiceless, the peacemaker.
Liberia, our common patrimony!
About the Author:
Ade Wede Wee-Wee Kekuleh is a Liberian woman, women advocate, journalist, writer, student of Law and an accounting technician. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.