By Varney K. Sirleaf
The Bishop of the United Methodist Church, Bishop John G. Innis, has urged Liberians to remain patriotic.
Bishop Innis in his Independence Day message called on all Liberians to demonstrate genuine love and encourage them to give back to Liberia what they had illegally stolen from her.
The Methodist Bishop also called on the youths to exhibit good moral attitude by respecting their leaders and doing their best for the country in whatever capacity they are offered.
The Man of God encouraged the young people to be more patriotic than ever to claim Liberia as the best and live into its claim by preparing themselves educationally and morally.
“Young Liberians in Liberia; help beautify your country by giving your time to protect the environment in which you reside,” the Bishop urged.
He said Liberia has every good thing to be a great and powerful nation, but for that to happen the Bishop stated that Liberians must first stop exploiting and despising their country; but they should rather honor her in deeds and words.
He further stated that no one should use Liberia’s resources for any unwholesome reason calling on Liberians to be generous and hospitable to Liberia just as they are to strangers.
The Bishop explained that there are habits Liberians must exhibit to commensurate acceptable qualities of a happy Independence Day celebration; stressing that Liberians should volunteer to clean their cities, streets, highways to bring pride to the country.
“Our cities across the nation deserve our honest attention. We must stop trashing it and instead, volunteer to clean them. Our streets and highways must bring pride to us, and to those who will visit our country from time to time. These and many more are acceptable qualities we must always exhibit as being commensurate with a happy Independence Day celebration,” he said.
For those in the Diaspora, the Methodist Bishop said Liberians in the Diaspora should take the opportunity to visit their homeland to contribute sincerely to the ongoing growth and development of it.
He said,“ You do not have to be government officials to affect positive change. Simply, be the best business moguls, nonprofit starters, faith leaders, entertainers, teachers, students, parents, community members and citizens you can be. In faithfully doing this, the greatness of our country will be made known to all,’ he warned.
He concluded by calling on Liberians to respect the rule of law and also called on Diaspora Liberians to come back home to meaningfully contribute to the development of their country.
“Finally, Liberia’s greatness must also rest on the rule of law. We must respect and abide by the law of our country. Our leaders must be loved and respected. Equally so, they must reciprocate the same gesture. On the whole, we must learn to respect and love each other as a people, no matter our social, economic, religious and political status. The Bible says when we respect and honor each other; our days on earth will be blessed, prolonged and well lived,” the Bishop stated.SEE BELOW FOR FULL SPEECH:
By Bishop John G. Innis
On July 26, 2015, we, the people of Liberia, once again celebrated another Independence Day.
This year’s celebration marked the 168th birth anniversary of our homeland. The venue was the historic county of Sinoe. Historic because Sinoe was the third of the three original counties that signed the landmark declaration of Independence in Monrovia on July 26, 1847. Montserrado and Grand Bassa were the first and second historic counties.
The President, Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, led an array of government officials, diplomats accredited to Liberia, prominent and ordinary citizens, business people and others went to Greenville, capital of Sinoe County, to witness and participate in the activities of the celebration. The event, as has always been the case, was particularly intended to remind the people of Liberia and to also inform the rest of the world why we celebrate in terms of our achievements and how we can move forward to achieve more by the grace of God.
On Sunday, the main day of the celebration, thousands of Liberians throughout the country, gathered in their places of worship to praise and thank God. I believe that the focus of the worshiping community was God’s love, kindness, provision, protection and deliverance of us from the fatal Ebola disease and other overwhelming challenges, which Liberians were able to overcome through the power of God.
I need not say much about the severe consequences the disease had on our lives. We witnessed, with a sense of looming fear and hopelessness, the rapid and alarming death toll of this horrifying disease. We also witnessed how it paralyzed our economy, our educational system, and how it inhumanely separated families, friends, neighbors and made us a despised people, internationally.
Nevertheless, we remained hopeful in our distress because the Book of Life says that “in every circumstance, we must give thanks to the Lord.” The fact is that the Lord’s watchful eyes and healing hands covered us with love and mercy and therefore constrained us to say thanks to our Maker, Keeper and the Sustainer of our lives. I imagine how during the Independence Day Sunday Services, people sang gloriously and joyously the popular song of praise, “What the Lord has done for us we cannot tell it all…” I also imagine how preachers of the day called our attention to honor and uplift Liberia in faith, hope and love.
To God be the glory! God’s love and kindness for Liberia will last forever. God, by God’s command, has given us this glorious land of liberty with all of its natural resources to sustain us nutritionally and to provide us with other basic needs. “And God said, behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree in the land which is the fruit of the tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.: (Genesis 1:29)
But in addition to the natural resources, God has also blessed us with the institution of government and has given us successive leaders so that together we can wisely utilize the resources God has provided to lead us from economic instability to prosperity and to lead us from the darkness of illiteracy to the light of academic freedom. Our leaders, like all leaders of God’s word, are also placed in authority to “execute judgment and justice” (Matt. 23:23; Jer. 23:5). That is, our leaders have taken an oath before God, and before a multitude of national and international witnesses so that God’s leadership of love for all would stand as a beacon of hope, peace, happiness and joy for Liberians and guarantee greatness and prosperity of nation.
So, as we have celebrated 168 years of independence, we must continue to ask ourselves these questions: How well has it been with us for the past one century, three score and eight years? Are the intended purposes for which our nation came into existence being achieved to our pleasure and satisfaction and, most importantly, to God’s honor and glory? Each year, we celebrate from city to city. Are our hearts over-filled with joy by the Independence Day Projects undertaken in those counties? Are those cities only intended to host our Independence Day celebrations, or is the rotational strategy meant to bring about sustainable and lasting development?
To some appreciable degree, we may answer these questions in the affirmative. But we still have a long journey ahead of us. However, we praise and thank God for our leaders of the past and present. They, in good faith, attempted and continue to forge ahead to lead us from being a least developed country toward sustainable growth and prosperity. Their sacrifices in the areas of education, health, road building, among others, are relatively commendable.
But let us remember that Liberia is 168 years. This suggests that our nation deserves more than what she is. By now, Liberia, Africa’s oldest Republic, ought to be the shining star of the continent and she can be if all of us are willing to work with love, commitment, transparency and accountability. Liberia has every good thing to be a great and powerful nation. We must therefore stop exploiting our country. We must stop despising our country. We must honor Liberia not only in words but in deeds.
Please, fellow citizens, let us demonstrate genuine love for Liberia. Whatever job one is called to do for our country, we must do it well. Hence, we must give back to Liberia what we have illegally taken away from her. The Word of God encourages us to practice good virtues because they make a nation great and prosperous. On the other hand, the vice of sin such as corruption is a reproach to the people of a nation. Let us remember that we are who we are because of Liberia. No one should use Liberia’s resources for any unwholesome reason. We must be generous to Liberia. We must be hospitable to Liberia just as we are to strangers. Remember that Liberians are known to be a people of hospitality.
Our cities across the nation deserve our honest attention. We must stop trashing it and instead, volunteer to clean them. Our streets and highways must bring pride to us, and to those who will visit our country from time to time. These and many more are acceptable qualities we must always exhibit as being commensurate with a happy Independence Day celebration.
Once again, I am grateful to the leadership of our country for where we have come from thus far. We are heading in the right direction. Before we turn 200 years, I’m confident that we will reflect on the past, look far ahead into the immediate and distant future and exclaim, “Liberia is indeed beautiful!” The validity of this exclamation is based on the next generation’s commitment to Liberia. Young Liberians we need you to be more patriotic than ever, to claim Liberia as the best and to live into this claim by preparing your selves educationally and morally. Young Liberians in Liberia, help beautify your country by giving your time to protect the environment in which you reside. Liberians in the Diaspora, take the opportunity to visit your homeland, not for self-gain but to contribute sincerely to the ongoing growth and development of it. You do not have to be government officials to affect positive change. Simply, be the best business moguls, nonprofit starters, faith leaders, entertainers, teachers, students, parents, community members and citizens you can be. In faithfully doing this, the greatness of our country will be made known to all.
Finally, Liberia’s greatness must also rest on the rule of law. We must respect and abide by the law of our country. Our leaders must be loved and respected. Equally so, they must reciprocate the same gesture. On the whole, we must learn to respect and love each other as a people, no matter our social, economic, religious and political status. The Bible says when we respect and honor each other; our days on earth will be blessed, prolonged and well lived.
Happy Independence Day, Mother Liberia! Happy Independence Day to the President, Vice President, the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives, the President Pro-Tempore , members of the Senate, to His Honor The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, other officials of government, fellow Liberians at home and in the Diaspora.
May God continue to bless our nation and our leaders who will lead us with a good heart and according to the true meaning of Independence to the honor and glory of God.